Morpeth Harriers and Athletic Club were at long last able to present their much-delayed Athlete of the Year Awards for 2019 last month despite the difficulties caused by lockdown.
Given at the NECAA Open Meeting at the KEVI track by club president Jim Alder MBE and sponsored by Reeves the Pension Specialists, the awards are chosen over the course of the year for the best three Young Athlete performances of each month, the winners going forward for consideration for the annual prize.
With a wide variety of stand-out regional and national performances by Young Athletes at the club, there were once more a number of leading contenders which made judgment as ever challenging.
In the end, the winner of the 2019 award was throws specialist Jessica Gardiner for a string of outstanding performances that have seen her gain national recognition after only a handful of years in the sport.
Beginning her throwing career under the watchful eye of her father - himself a Discus and Hammer thrower - in the fields of the Upper Coquet behind her family home in Rothbury, Jess soon took to the sport while at the same time playing rugby as an Under 12 at Alnwick RFC.
In her first year as an U/15, when she was still finding her feet in all four throws, she was already a winner in the North East Youth Development League for Discus. The following year, still U/15, she won a silver in the Scottish National Championships for Discus, was North East Counties Athletics Association Discus Champion and Northumberland Schools double champion for both Discus and Hammer, setting a new county Hammer record, as well as qualifying for the England Schools Championships.
Moving to the guidance of specialist coach Neil Ellerby in 2019 as an Under 17, Jess was a double Northumberland Schools champion at both Discus and Hammer, and placed 7th in the English Schools Championships for Discus. She was NECAA hammer Champion and once again topped the rankings for the NEYDL at both Discus and Hammer.
Representing Morpeth in the Senior Track and Field team, who participate in the North of England League Division, she not only won the 4kg Hammer when throwing the heavier weight for the first time competitively, but in the process managed to break the Senior club record. In 2019 her performances have seen her ranked in the top 20 nationally for her age in the Discus and in the top 5 for the Hammer.
Now a sixth former at Morpeth’s KEVI, Jess was recently accepted onto the England Athletics Youth Talent Programme (along with fellow Harrier Amy Lott), the start of a two year diploma with the England Athletics and GB pathway which will hopefully enable her to develop her potential to the next level with support from National event coaches and the wider England support staff structure.
Alongside this, she has somehow also found time to continue her rugby, captaining Alnwick Under 18s from number 8 or the second row, representing Northumberland for three consecutive seasons and being invited into the RFU North of England Centre of Excellence Development group.
Runner-up in the awards was sprinter and Javelin specialist Alice Geoghegan. Another youngster with a very impressive CV in 2019, Alice was a winner in her U/15 age category in the North East Counties Athletics Championships at Middlesbrough over 300m, won the Northumberland Schools County Championships and went on to take part in the New Balance English Schools’ Championships in Birmingham over the same distance. She was a winner in the Javelin in every NEYDL match in which she took part, again won the Northumberland Schools Championships for the implement, and was 2nd in the NECAA Championships. Coached by Dave Thomas, the RGS pupil continues to make tremendous progress in her first year as an U/17, despite the very challenging circumstances that currently affect the sport.
In third place was Ross Charlton. Charlton, who also attended KEVI High School, has been both with Morpeth Harriers from a young age, being guided in his running initially by the late Tony Ward and subsequently by veteran Harriers coach Mike Bateman. Turning out on a regular basis for the club throughout the year, among other achievements Ross was 14th in the Northern Counties Cross Country Championships at Pontefract where he led the club’s team to Gold medals and was 4th in the North East County Championships at Alnwick. Another consistently strong year for Ross, and not just in running, has now seen him accepted onto the University of Bath’s prestigious Modern Pentathlon course.
Nigel Reeves, owner of Reeves the Pension Specialists, said: "Reeves is delighted to sponsor Athlete of the Year Awards as club sponsor. Grassroots sport is something we’re passionate about and it’s great to be able to support such talented young athletes."
The club has confirmed the cancellation of all forthcoming events and training sessions as a result of the lockdown that came into effect at midnight today (5 November).
On Wednesday evening England Athletics published its response to the UK Government's nationwide Covid 19 restrictions. This guidance applies until at least 2 December.
Exercise is now only permitted with members of the same household or with one other person in a public space.
The immediate consequences for us as a club are the following:
Thanks to all in advance for your continued understanding and cooperation.
The first events in the series of 2020 Morpeth Harriers Young Athletes Championships take place this Monday (2nd November).
Action gets underway on the usual Single Lap Lancaster Park circuit (approx. 1.25mile) with the Under 11 Boys and Girls (School Year 6 & some Year 5), first to take to the road.
Club Members need to meet at the Morpeth Harriers & AC Clubhouse at 7.30pm. and to please make sure they are fully fit and well (Covid 19 Regulations), and it is a requirement that all participants are wearing something reflective or white (be safe, be seen).
Other age groups will compete in their championships on Monday 9th November- Under 13 Boys & Girls (School Years 7 & 8), and Under 15 Boys & Girls (School Years 9 & 10), and Monday 23rd November- Under 17 Boys & Women (School Years 11 & 12)
Championship Medals will be presented to the first three finishers in each group, at a later held presentation, date to be decided, and the Winner of each Age Group and Gender will receive a Championship Trophy, to be held for a year.
Three athletes from Morpeth Harriers figured amongst the top twenty finishers at the annual Cheshire 10k Road Race, held at Northwich, on Sunday 18th October 2020.
Excellent runs by Chris Parr and Alex Brown saw them
finish second and third, with respective times of 29m36s and 29m37s.
The event was won by Birchfield Harrier Omar Ahmed, who posted a time of 29m27s.
Parr was agonisingly only six seconds adrift of his personal best time;
however, Brown was well inside his previous best of 33m28s, set in the Tynedale 10k in 2016.
Morpeth Harriers third participant George Lowry came home in nineteenth place in 30m47s, which was another personal best, by a margin of thirteen seconds.
The fourth in the North East Counties Athletics Association’s series of Open Meetings, held under UK Athletics Covid 19 competition guidance, took place at the Morpeth Harriers track at KEVI on Sunday with the highlights being the awards of the Jimmy Hedley Trophy over 800 metres and the Stan Long Trophy for the mile.
Both legendary North-East middle-distance coaches, since their deaths the races named in their honour have regularly seen some of the best local talent turning out to compete, with Sunday being no exception. In the event honours were evenly shared between Morpeth Harriers and longstanding rivals from South of the Tyne Gateshead, with Morpeth taking the Jimmy Hedley Trophy and Gateshead the Stan Long. lick here to edit.
The earlier 800m saw Alistair Douglas taking revenge over local rival Oliver Telfer of Alnwick Harriers who had pipped him three weeks ago over the same distance. It was a gun to tape race lead for Douglas who this time proved to have a bit too much in the tank for Telfer when challenged in the home straight, winning in a time of 1 minute 57.13 seconds in front of coach Jimmy Alder, with Zak Old of North Shields in third.
In the later run mile race – a distance sadly not raced over so much these days, with the preference going to the 1500m or ‘metric mile’ – David Race of Gateshead proved to be comfortably the strongest in the field, and having like Douglas led from the off finished in a time of 4 minutes 18.01 seconds with Gala Harrier Darrell Hastie some three seconds behind in second place and Adam Russell of Darlington AC in third. It has certainly been a productive Summer on the KEVI track for promising Under 20-year-old Race, who has now won 800m, 1500m and mile races here. (Sadly, Morpeth’s Joe Armstrong and Rory Leonard, who had both entered the event, were unable to take part due to coronavirus isolation.)
There were also many noteworthy performances by athletes from Morpeth in the earlier heats over both distances, as well as in accompanying 200m races and Field events.
U/15 Tabitha Robson won her 800m heat with a big personal best of 2:42:65, as did U/20 Connor Marshall his with a time of 2:06:20. There were pbs for Freya Caygill, Joe Close, Liam Roche and Sam Tate, while Emma Tomlinson and Elliot Mavir competed over the distance for the first time.
Senior Woman Lindsey Quinn had a busy afternoon, running a pb in the 800m then only a couple of hours later running away from the rest of her field in the mile to win her heat in a time of 5:37:43, her first ever run over the distance.
The following mile saw an exciting race won by U/17 Caitlin Flanagan – another tackling the event for the first time - who was led round at an even pace for over three and a half of the four laps by O/65 veteran Gavin Bayne, and then found the speed in her legs to overtake long time race leader Gateshead’s Kim Simpson and win in 5:46:57. Bayne clocked a highly respectable 5:51:50 while fellow Morpeth O/65 veteran Dave Nicholson went a few seconds better (5:43:82) in his heat.
U/13 Daniel Scott, Under 17s Will De Vere Owen, Bertie Marr and Joe Dixon and O/40 veteran Claire Calverley were also all running the distance for the first time, with Marr’s the standout performance in the penultimate race as he chased home Ethan Bond of Gosforth Harriers for second place in 4:39:64.
Meanwhile O/55 Neil McAnany ran an impressive 5:26:13 only an hour or so after taking part in a keenly contested 200m.
Oliver Geoghegan (U/17) and sister Alice (U/17), Harrison Scott (U/15) and Sam Parker (U/17) all won their 200m heats in pbs, with Parker competing over the distance for the first time. Parker and Geoghegan were the two fastest male U/17s of the day, in fact, with Alice and Melody Brooks the two fastest female U/17s. Alice’s run was a grade 4 performance under the AAA Standards Scheme. Freya Caygill placed 2nd in her heat but also ran a pb, with Rosie Winter 3rd. Melody Brooks was 3rd in her race, with Owen Omoigui 5th but still managing a pb. As mentioned above, Neil McAnany managed to narrowly squeeze ahead of younger club colleagues Hannah Lott and Olivia Gent in his heat.
Perhaps the stand out performance in the field was by Under 15 Hammer thrower Georgia Turner, who recorded a big personal best of 33.29 metres, as well as taking part in the Shot where she threw 8.31m. Longest throw of the day in the Hammer was by the club’s Athlete of the Year for 2019 Jess Gardiner with 39.69m. U/15 Kaitlyn Waddell managed 31.54m behind her.
Both Gardiner and Waddell are now in the top 20 in the UK for the event. A busy day for Gardiner saw her also record 32.40m in the Discus, with younger brother Ed not far behind in 29.03m with the best male performance of the day.
Some three Harriers jumped in the Long Jump event, with all three recording longest jumps of the day in their age categories. Olivia Gent recorded 3.76m and Hannah Lott 3.50, with Owen Omoigui the longest of the day for the club with 4.22m.