The second NECAA Open Meeting of the Summer took place under UKA Covid-19 guidance at the KEVI track on Sunday, and there was once again widespread gratitude shown by all present at the opportunity given, however belated, for some track and field competition after the months of enforced inaction. With the morning rain abating, little or no wind and, as the afternoon progressed, the sun even showing its face, conditions were excellent for both participants and spectators and the track certainly looked at its best.
Events this time round included shorter distances of 200, 300 and 400m as well as the 1500m, all being graded races (athletes having submitted anticipated times) and in the field, long and triple jumps as well as shot, discus and javelin.
There were some twenty-one 200m races with nearly 100 sprinters involved. The stand-out performance for Morpeth was perhaps by Under 17 sprinter Melody Brooks, who ran 26.28 seconds in heat 14 to come home first, bettering her personal best by over half a second and recording the third fastest female time of the day into the bargain. U/15 girls Kaityln Waddell (29.42s) and Hannah Lott (29.43s) both won their heats and colleague Ellie Wickens (28.42s) was second in hers, all three recording pbs. For the boys, U/17 Charlie Lane ran an impressive 24.98s to win heat 17, while veteran O/40 Phil Pitt (24.59s) just pipped younger teammate U/17 Josh Adams (25.09s) in heat 18. Fastest times of the day overall were by Gateshead Harriers U/20 Philippa Ellis (25.48s) and Ben Schofield (23.40s).
The 300m – a distance rarely competed over – was understandably less popular with only some four heats. U/15 Reuben Moss won his heat in 43.01s while Alice Geoghegan recorded 42.47s in hers, keeping her as the fastest over the distance in the NE. Rebecca Grieve of Pitreavie ran 40.12s and Jemes Bell of Carlisle Aspatria 39.41s for the fastest times of the day, both athletes having travelled considerable distances to take part.
The busy Charlie Lane was Morpeth’s only competitor in the 400m, coming home third in a time of 55.12s in heat 4. Jason Nicholson of Gateshead was the only athlete to break the 50s mark, recording 49.94s with Ellie Maxwell of Middlesborough Mandale clocked 1m 3:53s for the fastest women’s time.
Most popular event of the day proved to be the 1500m, with six athletes in most races, although seeding meant the strange sight of some U/13 and U/15 athletes running up against others old enough to be their granddad!
In the early heats, Morpeth O/60 Andrew Dippie ran 5 minutes 45s in heat 2 and Tayla Murdy 5: 38:74 in heat 3 with O/40 Elswick veteran Judith Nutt a highly respectable 5:34:38s just ahead of her.
Heat 5 was won by U/13 Oliver Tomlinson in a very impressive 5:03:03, a big personal best by nearly 15 seconds for the youngster, while U/20 Junior Kirsty Duffin was fifth in the same heat in 5:30:53 but also knocked over 10 seconds off her own pb. Sandwiched between them was one of the club’s leading veterans, O/65 Gavin Bayne recording an excellent 5:25:75 - a time which makes him the leading runner in the country for his age in 2020.
Another stand-out performance followed in heat 7, U/17 Abi Leiper easily going under the five minute mark to win with a time of 4:52:47 and knocking over fifteen seconds off her previous best. In her first race in a Morpeth vest meanwhile, Millie Breese (U/17) placed second in the following heat in 4:48:54.
U/15 Liam Roche (4:28:45) and U/17 Sam Tate (4:28:54s) battled it out at the front of heat 9 for a Morpeth one, two, with Roche knocking a whole 17 seconds off his pb, while there was a perhaps even more impressive performance in the following race, U/17 Joe Anderson taking it out hard from the front – much to the concern of his watching coach Mike Bateman – but hanging on with a bit to spare to record 4:17:78s, another fine pb. In the same heat, U/20 Alex Cunningham was second in 4:20:70 and U/15 Joe Dixon sixth in 4:37:88, both also pbs.
There were two more notable runs in Heat 11, U/15 Bertie Marr finishing second in 4:23:53, a time that puts him eighth in the country for his age group and particularly pleasing after an injury hit cross country season. Meanwhile Guy Bracken, newly transferred to Morpeth from NSP but running with a niggling injury, ran 4:23:62, some way off his best but still showing he remains a class act.
Fastest times of the day were of course run in the day’s final two races. In heat 12, U/20 Connor Marshall was fourth in 4:19:87 and U/15 Ryan Davies sixth in 4:27:67, both pbs.
Final race of the day featured a terrific battle between early leader Josh Blevins of Gateshead and Blyth’s Josh Fiddaman, with Fiddaman judging his effort to perfection over the last 150 metres to win in the day’s fastest time of 4:03:24. Morpeth’s Ross Charlton, admittedly race-rusty, clocked a respectable 4:06:29 for third. The day’s fastest time by a female runner was Emily Chong of Chester-le-Street in 4:43:94.
Two Morpeth athletes took part in the Long Jump, U/17 Abbie Ross recording 4.57 metres and U/15 Olivia Gent 3.96m, both pbs. Blyth’s Alfie Ward recorded the day’s longest jump of 6.36m and Gateshead’s Lucy Turner 5.53m.
The triple jump had fewer competitors by comparison, with the day’s longest being that of 12.20m by Jarrow and Hebburn U/17 Thomas Paterson. Morpeth’s U/17 Charlotte Earl did, however, record the furthest distance by a female athlete, 11.11m for perhaps the club’s stand-out field performance of the day. Kayleigh Wenn jumped 9.48m.
Morpeth’s javelin specialist Bobbie Griffiths threw 37.14m with U/17 Alice Geoghegan hitting 30.33m. With few if any competitive opportunities for throwers this Summer, although distances were understandably down both were grateful to have had the chance to flex their arm. Blyth’s Alfie Ward threw 40.45m for the longest mark of the afternoon.
The brother and sister team of Jess and Ed Gardiner (U/17 and U/15 respectively) lined up in the discus, Jess recording 30.16m, the furthest female throw of the afternoon, with Ed 24.94m. Fellow U/15 athlete Georgia Turner threw 16.61m, in her first time at the new weight. James Woodward of NSP had the day’s furthest mark of 42.58m.
There were no Morpeth athletes in the Shot Putt this time, with the busy Woodward throwing 14.94m and Kaitlin Enderwick of Middlesborough Mandale 10.94m for the day’s biggest marks.
Another very successful afternoon for NECAA then; so successful in fact that a third meeting has been scheduled for Sunday 27th September, which will hopefully include some track 3000m races bound to be popular with Morpeth’s distance specialists.
Thanks and congratulations to all officials, and once again to Hemant Desai who worked tirelessly to liaise with the school, despite having had a busy Friday and Saturday at the British Championships supporting daughter Nisha, and also doing some officiating himself in his first British Athletics Senior Appointment.
PHOTOS FROM MEETING AT MORPETH ON SUNDAY
COURTESY OF PETER SCAIFE