Twenty four athletes from the ranks of Morpeth Harriers & AC took part in the NECAA Track and Field Championships, being held in August for the first time, and also for the first time since 2019 because of the Coronavirus epidemic, at the weekend (21 and 22 August).
Saturday’s first day experienced the most of the weekend rainfall, but Sunday’s competitors faced a decent amount of warm sunshine, laced with an intermittent moderate breeze, which kept conditions mostly ideal.
The club saw a return of sixteen championship medals in total, which included ten Gold, one Silver, and five Bronze.
Two athletes were double Gold medal winners, and the only age group not to get a medal in the club were the Under 13 Boys, however, William Hodgson came mighty close in the 100m, which we shall report in more detail later in this report.
Amongst the Gold medallists were two double winners, in Under 17 Man Edward Gardiner, and Senior Woman Jessica Young-Rogers.
On Saturday, despite still suffering the effects of a back injury, Edward threw a decent 32.30m to take his age group Discus title from closest rival Ryan Cook of Gateshead Harriers (31.91m), with Thomas Mann of Gateshead Harriers taking the Bronze with 31.40m.
In the Under 17 Men’s Hammer on Sunday, Gardiner managed a best throw of 31.57m, ahead of Gateshead Harrier Fynn Errington (26.15m), to take his second Gold of the weekend.
On Saturday, Jessica Young-Rogers won the first of her two Gold medals in the Senior Women’s 200m in 25.42s, and returned on the Sunday to win the 100m, posting a time of 12.49s.
Also on Saturday, Morpeth Harrier Bobbie Griffiths added the Senior Women’s Javelin title to the Championship titles that she had won as an Under 20, Under 17, and an Under 15 athlete, a fine achievement in itself.
Although, mainly because of a lack of competition, she only managed a modest distance of 36.08m, but it was enough to secure the Championship ahead of Sunderland Harrier Vicky Haswell, now an Over 40 Veteran (27.01m).
Another two Gold Medals from the Field Events by Morpeth athletes were achieved on Sunday, courtesy of Jessica Gardiner, older Sister of Edward, and Charlotte Earl, both competing in the Under 20 Women’s events.
Jessica added the Hammer title to the one that she secured in 2019, when she had been competing as an Under 17 athlete at the same venue.
She threw a best of 36.55m, to just fend off New Marske’s Jessica Coapes (36.20m), to clinch Gold, with Coapes’s New Marske colleague Charlotte Gunn, getting the Bronze medal with a best of 33.40m.
Charlotte Earl won the Under 20 Women’s Triple Jump Gold medal, with her best effort of 10.71m, ahead of North Shields Poly’s Evie Perrett (8.99m).
The remaining three Gold medals were secured on Sunday, and all came from the track.
In the Under 15 Boys 800m, Joseph Close stole away to win by almost two seconds from Elswick Harrier Elliot Kelso, who after being third throughout the first lap, attacked at the bell to oust early leader Harry Lyons of Darlington, who took the Bronze.
Close posted a winning time of 2m11.84s.
Hard work in training with her Club Coach Eddie Hedley, certainly paid rich dividends, as Under 15 Girl Victoria Hodgson pulled off a superb victory in the 300m Final, after also winning her earlier run heat in 44.44s.
In the final, she clocked 44.53s, winning Gold from Blyth’s Sadie Parker 45.0, with Derwentside’s Isla Fishwick, who had also won an earlier heat, securing Bronze in 45.21s.
Considering Hodgson had had no previous experience of the distance, it was an excellent victory for the Morpeth girl.
In the Senior Men’s 800m, Morpeth’s Alistair Douglass's time of 1m57.17s was not a personal best, but still earned him a Gold medal.
Morpeth Harriers Under 17 Man Joe Dixon, ran well throughout his 3000m event, to secure a well-earned Silver medal in 9m23.97s, behind Gosforth Harrier Ethan Bond (9m23.28s).
Another Morpeth athlete in the event was Ralph Robson, who finished just adrift of the medals, despite posting a new personal best of 9m49.78s.
Five more medals were added to the Morpeth Harriers tally, all of them being Bronze.
Three of these medals were achieved on the track, with two coming from the Field, and all of them on Sunday.
Mia Belton, just managed to finish third ahead of Gateshead’s Lucy Webster, as she posted a time of 43.39s, behind Lois Creasey and Leonie Pye of Middlesbrough AC, who were first and second with respective clockings of 42.31s, and 42.97s.
Tayla Murdy finished third in the Senior Women’s 400m in 70.75s, and fellow Morpeth Senior Rachelle Falloon, also secured Bronze in the 1500m, posting a time of 4m58.66s.
Alexandria Hodgson, younger sister of Victoria, who has recently linked up with Throws Coach Neil Ellerby, threw 15.53m on her first appearance in the Under 13 Girls Javelin, securing her Bronze, behind Gateshead Harrier Skye Marshall, and Chester Le Street’s Hollie Anne Sudder.
On Sunday Morpeth Under 20 Man Max Marr made a welcome return to competition in the Long Jump, securing Bronze with a best effort of 5.60m.
However, younger brother Bertie was not so fortunate when running in the Under 17 Men’s 1500m on the Saturday.
In a very fast run race, he just lost out for a medal when the pace became hotter, as triple Gold medal winner Chris Perkins of Birtley made his move to the front.
Despite clocking a new personal best of 4m09.54s, which was a three second improvement, he lost out by a mere second to Gosforth’s Reece Slater in the final run to the finish line.
Also in the event for Morpeth was Will De Vere-Owen, who finished seventh in 4m17.65s, taking a whole second off his previous figures for the three- and three-quarter lap event.
Evan Logan was probably one of Morpeth's hardest-working athletes throughout the weekend.
He managed to get through to three finals, but just missed out on medals, particularly in the Under 17 Men’s 100m on Saturday.
He clocked 11.85s, with Gateshead’s Joshua Hickson (11.55s), just denying him a Bronze medal.
Also on Saturday, Logan competed in a 400m for the first time, finishing fifth in 55.56s.
Logan returned on the Sunday, where he finished third in his heat of the 200m, where in the later run Final, he equalled his personal best with 23.96s, which saw him just run out of the medals, when he placed fifth.
Earlier we mentioned Morpeth Under 13 Boy William Hodgson, twin of Alexandria, who narrowly missed out on a medal in the 100m, which he ran for the first time, posting a time of 13.94s.
A hat-trick of medals in the Hodgson household would have proved most welcome, but it will come, given time.
Hodgson also got through to the final of the 200m on Sunday, after finishing third in his heat in 28.99s.
He was not far adrift of the medals in the Final, where he placed sixth in 29.43s.
Another hard-working young man from Morpeth was Under 15 sprinter Conner Phillips, who on Saturday finished third in his heat of the 100m in 12.9s, then finished sixth in a hard run Final later, posting a time of 13.27s.
On Sunday, Conner returned to the venue, where again he placed third in his heat, in the 200m in 26.81s, and in the later run Final, he posted a better 26.72s, however, again it was only good for sixth.
In both cases he needs to squeeze another couple of seconds out of himself to get amongst medals.
Morpeth Under 15 Girl Tabitha Robson, younger sister of Ralph, finished sixth in the 1500m Final, posting a time of 5m17.03s.
In the Under 17 Men’s 800m Final, Morpeth’s Liam Roche finished seventh, posting a finishing time of 2m07.82s.
After being at the front in the early exchanges, Morpeth’s Joe Anderson finished outside the medals in fourth place in the Under 20 Men’s 1500m, where he posted a finishing time of 4m19.86s.
In the Senior Men’s 1500m, Morpeth Veteran Alistair MacDonald finished seventh in 5m07.03s.
In addition to the competing athletes, Morpeth Harriers also had a number of hard-working officials at the Championships over both days.
Micky Groves was a Timekeeper, being Chief Timekeeper on the Sunday.
Hemant Desai and his wife Vina were Clerks of Course on Field and Track respectively on Day 1, Hemant was a Field Referee on Day 2, and Vina was an Official on Day 2.
Mike Bateman, in his role as NECAA President, was on hand to do medal presentations on both days, and George Patterson was the event announcer on both days, all being part of a genuine backroom effort, to ensure that the Championships were successful, and enjoyable for the competing athletes.