Early morning rain did nothing to dampen the spirits of athletes competing in the
first round North East Youth Development League Division 1 match,
held at Churchill Playing Fields, Whitley Bay,
and hosted by newly promoted club North Shields Poly, on Sunday 1st May.
It also saw many athletes competing in brand new older age groups, and some in
the youngest age groups experiencing Track and Field athletics for the very first time.
Some of those athletes were from Morpeth Harriers,
who were also led by brand new Team Managers,
Steve Garrett (Male), and Mark Brown (Female),
who had gained some initial experience, by acting as assistants last year,
and both were hoping for an encouraging beginning from their respective charges,
who this season are defending the league title that the club had won at Middlesbrough last July,
albeit with a much changed personnel, with some athletes having become too old for the competition,
and were now knocking on the door of the Senior team.
Thankfully Morpeth Harriers did make an encouraging start to the season, finishing a close second,
and only a mere twelve points adrift of very strong winners New Marske Harriers,
with the only other Division 1 Champions, since the league’s 2014 formation,
Blaydon Harriers, slightly adrift in third place.
The clubs successes were spread across the two genders and three age groups,
which saw no less than 21 A string and 11 B string, with 8 of them proving to be well earned double victories.
Under 17 Men’s sprinter Sean O’Hara certainly proved himself to be in excellent form,
by taking the 100m A race in 11.6s, with David Thomas providing superb backup by taking the B race in 12.7s.
Morpeth’s Mitchell Cryer also had an excellent run, clocking 13.7s as a non scoring competitor in the 100m.
O’Hara did well also in the 400m, which he was running for the first time, as he was a clear winner in 52.9s.
Middle distance specialist Kieran Hedley gave superb versatile B string support by winning in 56.3s,
also his first attempt at the distance.
Not far behind Hedley in terms of time, were the clubs non scorers Joe Dowd (56.5s),
and Matthew Waterfield (57.8s), who were also both running the distance for the first time,
having now joined the Under 17 ranks.
Hedley had another moment of personal glory when he won the Under 17 Men’s 800m in 2m05.2s,
and was well backed up by Joe Dowd’s win in the B string in 2m12.5s.
The club again proved strong in this event, with non scorers Matthew Waterfield and Jamie Duguid
both making very respectable clockings of 2m13.5s, and 2m19.6s, and both personal best performances.
Morpeth’s Connor Marshall took the Under 17 Men’s 1500m in 4m44.4s,
winning by five seconds from his nearest challenger,
which was agonisingly just short of his personal best.
The club secured two excellent Under 17 Men’s Field Event double victories,
courtesy of Ruaridh Lang and Charlie Chisholm in the Discus and Shot Putt events,
however exact distances are still requiring clarification due to officials recording errors,
the Morpeth pair were very worthy winners however in both cases.
David Thomas added two A string Field Event victories to his Track B string victory,
when he won both the Long Jump, with a best of 5.85m, and the Triple Jump with 12.0m,
the Long Jump performance being a fractional new personal best.
Backing him up in the B string Long Jump was Mitchell Cryer,
who finished second, with a best of 4.18m.
Morpeth Harriers other winner in the Under 17 Men’s Field events
was Matthew Waterfield, who won the High Jump.
The clubs other Field Event performer in this age group was Jack Andrews,
who was second in the A string Javelin with a best throw of 22.25m.
Morpeth Harriers Under 17 Men rounded off their very competitive day,
when they finished a very close second to Blaydon Harriers in 51.7s, in the 4 x 100m Relay.
There were some excellent performances by the clubs Under 17 Women,
who managed no less than four A string victories, and four B string winning performances.
Jessica Young-Rogers won the 100m A string in 13.3s, and agonisingly just lost out in the 200m with 28.0s.
Giving excellent winning B string support however was Naomi Arkle,
who very much enjoyed victory in the 100m in 13.7s, and also in the 200m in 28.9s.
She also finished second in the B string Shot Putt with 7.92m, which was a new personal best,
giving excellent support to Charlotte Pickering-Pruvot’s excellent winning A string performance of 10.71m.
Arkle made her day very much complete however by helping Morpeth’s Under 17 Women’s 4 x 100m Relay squad to victory in 52.8s.
Pickering-Pruvot also finished second in the A string Discus, with a best of 24.29m, which was a new personal best.
Back on the track, Hannah Brown superbly won the Under 17 Women’s 300m in 53.50s,
and narrowly missed out for victory in the 80m Hurdles with her clocking of 13.7s.
Morpeth’s Katie Hilton, who produced an excellent 14.0s as a non scoring 100m competitor,
produced a winning performance in the Long Jump with 4.53m, which was a new personal best performance,
which saw an excellent double victory for the club provided by Hannah Brown,
who took the B string with 4.06m, also a new personal best.
Jessica Young-Rogers cleared 1.45m, which equalled her personal best,
to take second place in the Under 17 Women’s A string High Jump.
In her first Under 17 Women’s Track outing since moving from Under 15 age level,
Gracie Hufton performed superbly to finish second in the 1500m in an excellent new personal best time of 5m36.7s.
It was certainly a good day for Morpeth Harriers Under 15 Girl athletes,
who managed no less than five A string victories.
Sprinter Nadine Arkle, younger sister of Naomi, took the example of her older sibling,
and carved out two excellent wins in the 100m and 200m, with excellent respective clockings of 14.2s and 28.5s.
She had good Morpeth B string support in both of these events by Grace Bathgate
who finished third and second respectively in 15.3s, and 31.8s.
Morpeth also had two non scorers in the 200m in Charlotte Bruce (33.8s),
and Lauren Cummings (34.7s), who were both first timers at the distance.
In the Under 15 Girls 1500m, Morpeth’s Holly Peck renewed rivalry with Darlington’s India Pentland.
The pair had not faced each other for a couple of years as Peck has only just moved up an age group,
and the talented duo made for a very interesting contest throughout the
early part of the three and three quarter lap contest.
Eventually Peck took the initiative to steal away from her rival, to win in 5m03.1s,
which gave her a four second winning margin, and was only a fraction
short of her new personal best run four days previously.
Morpeth Harriers B string competitor Lauren Cummings clocked 5m47.5s,
to finish as fourth B string, and eighth fastest in the race.
Another excellent Under 15 Girl victory for Morpeth came courtesy of Lily Heaton in the 800m,
where she clocked 2m30.4s, which was just under a second winning margin from Darlington’s Ellie Phillips,
and was a new personal best by two seconds.
Morpeth B string support came from Ella Maley, who finished fourth in 3m07.7s.
On to the Under 15 Girls Field Events, where Morpeth’s Lottie Hume had an outstanding day.
She won the Discus with a best of 19.50m, was second in the Shot Putt with 8.50m,
and third in the Javelin with 21.19m, which was a new personal best.
B string support respectively came from Cara Wray (3rd) (7.25m),
Lily Heaton (2nd) (5.26m), and Grace Coffey (2nd) (9.24m).
In all three cases they were trying these events for the first time.
Many of the clubs Under 13 athletes in both Male and Female genders were experiencing
Track and Field athletics for the very first time, and on the day for some it was very much a learning curve.
Nevertheless there were some very encouraging performances, which did give support to the team effort.
One athlete from the Under 13 Girls section who did shine for Morpeth,
was the more experienced Rhiannon Hedley, who won the 1500m with
eleven seconds to spare over her closest rival in 5m26.1s.
Lola Jackson provided excellent B string support by finishing second in 6m30.9s.
Hedley also had an excellent B string win in the Shot Putt, with a best of 5.41m,
which was the first time she had done the event.
Good points were scored in the A string by Niamh Sanderson, who finished third with 5.58m.
Showing great appetite Hedley also finished third in the A string High Jump, with her clearance of 1.05m.
Another Morpeth athlete with great appetite was Mia Belton,
who finished fourth in the A string 70m Hurdles with 17.50s,
and also fourth in the A string Javelin with 2.14m.
The Under 13 Girls Long Jump saw Morpeth’s Orla Callaghan finish as fifth A string with 3.05m,
and Katie Fraser giving B string support by finishing sixth with 2.08m.
Morpeth’s Under 13 Girls 4 x100m squad finished fourth in 69.20s.
Bobby Stone and Koffi Avornyo were the star performers in Morpeth Harriers small band of nine Under 13 Boy athletes. Stone’s best performance was in his much favoured Long Jump, which he won with his best effort of 4.00m, albeit by the margin of 3cm over Darlington’s George Peacock.
Making his Track and Field debut for Morpeth, Zachary Phillip did well to finish as third B string with 3.19m.
Stone just missed out by one second for a second victory in the 100m with his clocking of 14.7s,
which was a new personal best.
Backing him up well in the B string was Avornyo, who finished third in 15.1s.
Avornyo did have his own personal moment of glory however in the High Jump,
which he won with his clearance of 1.29m.
Ben Walker ran well to finish second in the A string 1500m in 5m17.0s,
and the excellent B string support came from Jack Barrett, who won in 5m56.3s.
Josh Adams and Jack Livingstone were Morpeth’s representatives in the Under 13 Boys 200m.
Adams finished fifth in the A string in 32.7s, with Livingstone placing third in the B string in 33.0s.
Jack Barrett clocked 38.6s as a non scoring athlete in the 200m.
In the Under 13 Boys 800m, Jack Livingstone clocked 2m53.7s when finishing fourth in the A string,
and Zachary Phillip finished second in the B string with an identical time.
Oliver Bruce was a non scoring Morpeth athlete in the 800m with a clocking of 2m54.8s.
Morpeth Harriers Under 13 Boys 4 x 100m squad performed well to finish second
to host club North Shields Poly, with their clocking of 62.4s.
The only disappointing aspect of the day for Morpeth Harriers was the poor turnout from their Under 15 Boys,
who managed to cover what events they could with only three athletes at their disposal.
Luke Haxell finished an excellent second in the Javelin with 24.85m.
Andrew Knight was up against a very formidable opponent in Luke Allen in both the Shot and Discus,
where he finished in respective second and third places, with best efforts of 11.25m and 24.93m.
Bradley Brown lined up for Morpeth in the 300m and 800m,
finishing fifth and fourth respectively in 46.6s and 2m30.5s.
Morpeth Harriers Team Managers Garrett and Brown felt that their
respective squads had all performed well on the day,
and that the only major disappointment had been the lack of turnout from Under 15 Boys,
which on the day had left too big a hole to fill, and it was left to the rest to chase valuable points,
however on a positive note it is hoped to have a much better commitment over the remaining three matches.
Both reflected on the fact that some athletes had warmed to being flexible
in their choice of events on the day, and had discovered that they had
a talent for events that they had not previously considered, and had performed well,
and indeed had enjoyed the experience, for which as respective Team Managers
had been most pleasing and encouraging to see.
Garrett felt that defending a title is a major thing, and had faith that the squad will fight on in the forthcoming matches, and that the points deficit on the day was not great, and a better result can,
and should be achieved if flexibility and general all round commitment is maintained.
Both Managers thanked parents for their help and understanding on the day,
especially with the very youngest, who had never competed at such a level before, and had done well.
They were also very pleased with their respective Under 17 charges,
who had certainly made a superb and very mature effort in leading the quest for points,
and had shown a very responsible and supportive attitude towards their much younger club colleagues.
The next North East Youth Development League Division 1 fixture
is at Darlington on Sunday May 22nd 2016 .
FINAL MATCH RESULT (Subject to further Scrutiny)
1st New Marske 632pts,
2nd Morpeth Harriers 620pts,
3rd Blaydon Harriers 588pts,
4th Harrogate & Wetherby 561pts,
5th North Shields Poly 545pts,
6th Darlington Harriers 292pts.