Strong races despite winds

Strong, prevailing winds played havoc with athletes’ personal performances at the second round Northern Athletics Track and Field League Division 2 E match on Saturday, writes George Patterson.

Despite this, the match itself, held at Churchill Playing Fields, Whitley Bay, was very competitive.

Morpeth Harriers finished fifth on the day and only 44 points separated them from second-placed Skyrac of Yorkshire.

Gateshead Harriers added to their season’s tally, by achieving their second victory of the campaign, winning by a comfortable margin of 85 points.

The club also gave Senior Northern League debuts to Sean O’Hara, Will Kelly, and Naomi Arkle, and all three certainly stepped up to the plate in their respective requirements.

One of the stars of the show for Morpeth Harriers in the Men’s events was Richard Morrell, who, having his first track outing since playing his part in his club’s 12 Stage Road Relay triumph in April, won both the 800m and 1500m A-string events.

In the 800m, Morrell clocked an excellent 2m03.4s, considering the very windy conditions, and returned to the track a little later to win the 1500m by a comfortable seven-second margin in 4m15.6s.

Morpeth Harriers also did well in the B-string races of these events, with U17 athlete Jacob Hopkins finishing third in the 800m in 2m15.9s and James Young enabling a double victory for his club, by winning the B-race in 4m28.8s.

The club had another excellent double victory on the day in the Men’s 5000m, courtesy of Ady Whitwam (15m43.1s) and Jonny Nisbet (16m53.6s).

Joe Elder ran well to equal his pb performance when he finished third in the A-race of the Men’s 400m in 53.2s, and Jacob Hopkins added to his earlier 800m performance by finishing third in the B-race in 59.7s.

With regular Morpeth sprinters Jack Hepple and David Storey both being unavailable, Kenny Harrison finished fourth in the A-string 100m in 11.9s and fifth in the A-string 200m in 24.8s.

Hans Paulsen finished sixth in the B-string 100m, however, Sean O’Hara truly excelled on his debut in the B-string 200m, by winning in 24.3s, a factor which will surely gain him a regular senior place in future fixtures.

In the Men’s field events, duties were spread among five competing athletes.

Paul and Stephen Appleby did the lion’s share in the throws.

In the hammer, Paul was fourth in the A-string with his best effort of 24.88m, and Stephen was fourth in the B-string with 19.30m.

The pair reversed roles in the discus, with Stephen producing 30.95m for fifth in the A-string and Paul getting third in the B-string with 28.04m.

In the shot putt, Paul produced a best of 9.40m for fifth in the A-string and Stephen found a best of 8.04m for third in the B-string.

The Men’s javelin was a very tough competition, with the wind continuing to play havoc with flight technique, and Paul could only manage a best of 28.28m, which saw him finish as sixth A-string.

Hans Paulsen threw 19.02m for sixth in the B-string.

The prevailing wind also affected the Men’s pole vault; nevertheless, Morpeth Harrier Mitch Green still managed a best clearance of 2.25m for third place.

Green had a fairly busy day; as he secured more vital team points in the A-string long-jump and triple-jump events.

He produced a best of 4.92m in the long jump for fifth place and an excellent 11.31m for third in the triple jump.

Backing him up in the respective B-string events were Hans Paulsen, who finished sixth in the long jump (3.92m), and Joe Elder, who produced a best of 9.72m for third in the triple jump.

Morpeth Harriers performed well in the 4x100m and 4x400m relays, finishing third on both occasions in 48.4s and 3m52.2s.

Sean O’Hara on his Northern League debut played a very instrumental part in the club success in the 4x100m, as did another Morpeth debutant Will Kelly in the 4x400m, also making an encouraging competitive comeback following a broken leg sustained while playing football.

In the Women’s events, Morpeth Harriers managed one double victory in the 3000m, where Emma Holt took the A-race in 10m38.6s and Vicky Gibbs won the B-race in 11m15.5s.

Another Morpeth race-winner was Amber Cormack, who won the 400m A-race in 65.7s, and more good points won by Abby Sheldon, who finished second in the B-race in 70.5s.

Sheldon also did well when winning the later-run 1500m B-race in 5m38.3s, backing up an excellent third by Hannah Sheerin in the A-race, with a time of 5m27.1s.

In the absence of Beth Laidler, Morpeth Harriers Women’s team manager gave a well-earned call up to U17 athlete Naomi Arkle, who did not let the squad down when she responded by running into two excellent third places in the B-strings of the 100m (13.8s) and 200m (29.2s), backing up Megan Deakin’s A-string performances, which also saw her gain two third places in 13.6s and 28.5s respectively.

Arkle also later played her part in Morpeth Harriers Women’s 4x100m squad, who finished a close third in 55.4s, accompanying the efforts of Deakin, Kirsty Lang and Amber Cormack.

Deakin, for her part, just lost out to Gateshead in the 4x400m, on the final leg, by a margin of one second in 4m31.8s.

Hannah Sheerin, Amber Cormack and Abby Sheldon were Morpeth Harriers’ other athletes in the squad.

In the Women’s field events, Morpeth Harriers had the services of five athletes, who all did their best in very testing conditions.

Claire Reid took part in three of those events. Her best result came from the shot putt, where she achieved a best of 10.15m for third place.

She also posted a best of 19.13m in the javelin, where she placed fourth in the A-string, which was well backed up by Abby Sheldon’s third place in the B-string with 19.07m.

Reid produced a best of 24.90m in the hammer, which gave her sixth place.

In the discus, Kirsty Lang produced a best of 17.93m for fifth place. Lang also produced a best of 6.37m for third place in the B shot putt competition.

She showed a determined thirst for competition, when she finished third in the high jump, with her clearance of 1.35m, and a fourth place in the long jump, with a best of 3.97m.

Finally, Morpeth Harriers’ field-event performances were fully rounded up by Hannah Sheerin (8.25m) and Amber Cormack (6.55m), who got respective sixth places in the A and B-string triple-jump competitions.

Following this result, Morpeth Harriers Senior Men and Women’s track-and-field squad now face an uphill task if they are to retain Division 2 status for next season; they have remaining fixtures at Cleckheaton in Yorkshire in July and a final match at the new facility in Middlesbrough in August.

Team managers David Swinburne (Men’s) and Mike Bateman (Women’s) will hopefully be engaging their respective squads with success very much in mind.

Final match result (subject to further scrutiny): 1 Gateshead Harriers 424pts; 2 Skyrac 359.5; 3 City of York 357; 4 Middlesbrough (Mandale) 321.5; 5 Morpeth Harriers 315; 6 North Shields Poly 272.

Despite the fact that it was Monday, June 1, unseasonal weather prevailed at the second in the series of BMC Regional Standards Meetings, held at Maiden Castle Sports Complex in Durham.

Four athletes from Morpeth Harriers took part in the 1500m events and only two of them managed to emerge with pb performances on the night.

It was very much a father-and-son act in that light, with Rob Hancox finishing second in the later-run E-race, in a new time of 4m58.7s.

Son Sam, also produced new figures of 4m33.3s in the B-race, where he finished ninth, and two places behind his Morpeth Harriers club colleague Scott Beattie, who will feel disappointed to be well adrift of his best when clocking 4m23.5s.

Also disappointed was Jacob Hopkins, who was 10th in the C-race in 4m45.2s.

The conditions were definitely to blame, with strong winds being accompanied by squally showers – the joys of the track-and-field season continue with abundance.

Monsoon conditions of an extraordinary proportion forced the abandonment of proceedings at the second in the series of North East Masters Track and Field League meetings, held at Jarrow’s Monkton Stadium, on Monday, June 1.

Morpeth Harrier Gavin Bayne competed in the earlier-run 1500m, where he finished as first in the Over 55 Veteran Man’s section in a time of 5m21.4s.

He had intended to compete in the later 800m; however, those events were cancelled due to the worsening conditions.

Fourteen days after her excellent victory in the Clive Cookson 10k Road Race at Monkseaton, Morpeth Harrier Emma Holt was once again in winning action, when she took the Women’s title on a totally different terrain, at the annual Penshaw Hill Race, held on Wednesday, June 3.

Holt finished 23rd overall in a field of 127 competitors, in a time of 19m33s, which made her three minutes and eight seconds adrift of race-winner Nathan Reed of the host club Sunderland Harriers.

Nick Swinburn of Morpeth Harriers made his seasonal return to the Fells, when he finished an excellent third in the European Uphill Mountain Trials Senior Men’s event, held in Glenridding in the Lake District National Park, on Sunday, May 31.

Competing on a course of 11.6k distance, to a summit of 950m, Swinburn clocked a time of 48m06s, which saw him finish only 29 seconds adrift of race-winner A Douglas of Inverclyde AC, with C Smith of Thames Valley Harriers finishing second in 47m47s.