Morpeth Harriers Senior Men and Women’s Track and Field squad made a disappointing start to their 2019 Northern League Division 2E campaign, when they finished fifth of six competing teams in their opening fixture at the re-arranged location of Beckett University in Leeds, on Sunday 19th May.
However Men’s Team Manager David Swinburne still held an optimistic view for the remaining four fixtures, despite the distinct lack of numbers, that both he and Women’s Team Manager Vina Desai had faced in putting their respective squads together, and he felt that the end result had been better than he had expected.
In the case of difference of match points between third, and their finishing position of fifth, he was fairly correct, as there was only thirty nine points between the Morpeth squad and Harrogate, and they had only lost out for fourth place by a mere six points, the ironic thing being that the fourth place just happened to be the closest rivals,
the combined squad of Wallsend Blyth.
Rock bottom on the day were Middlesbrough AC (Mandale),
who host the next match in June, who were sixty-five points adrift of Morpeth.
Match hosts Leeds City were obviously strong, and came out on the day winners,
twelve points ahead of Gateshead Harriers, who also showed many strengths.
Nevertheless, there were some bright spots within the Morpeth team performances,
particularly Under 20 Man Matt Waterfield, who was effectively a Talisman for the squad,
being the fastest performer in the Blue Riband 100m and 200m events.
In the 100m, Waterfield was selected to run the B Race, which he very clearly won, posting a time of 11.22s.
Morpeth were very close to a double victory here, but club colleague Sean O’Hara was just edged out in the A race, where he posted a time of 11.55s, which was just outside his own lifetime best.
In the later run 200m, Waterfield competed in the A Race, where his sheer speed excelled to edge out Gateshead’s Josh Errington, posting a personal best of 22.55s, in his first outing in the distance for two seasons.
Meanwhile in the B Race, O’Hara was again just edged out for victory, as he finished second in 23.57s.
In terms of workload, Morpeth’s Senior Man Mark Snowball can easily be singled out for special praise by Swinburne, as he tackled no less than four events in search of vital points, three on the track, two of them over obstacles, plus a field throwing event, no doubt getting home to Northumberland after a lengthy journey,
feeling a fairly tired man.
He firstly tackled the 400m Hurdles, finishing fifth in the A race, posting a time of 70.49s,
very fractionally eclipsing his previous best time.
Shortly afterwards, again over obstacles, however this time over Steeplechase Barriers and Water,
covering the seven and a half laps of 3000m, where he was fourth in 10m48s,
agonisingly just twenty-six seconds adrift of his lifetime best.
How he managed to muster himself to complete the later run 5000m, (twelve and a half laps),
to finish third in the A Race in 17m21.03, clearly demonstrated his dedication and willingness
to help his club to a respectable on the day result.
Graeme Thorpe also played his part well here, to get around, to finish third in the B Race in 18m18.15s,
his first track 5000m for a period spanning seven years.
Snowball also found time to throw a Javelin for the first time on the clubs’ behalf,
finishing fifth in the B String with a best of 17.52m.
This backed up a good effort by Hayden Richards, who was Morpeth’s only established Field Eventer on duty.
Richards finished third in the A String Javelin, throwing an on the day best of 47.38m, however his best effort in terms of points, came in the Hammer, where he managed a best of 34.25m, losing out by 70cm to Gateshead Harrier Fraser Wright.
Nevertheless, it was a lifetime personal best for Richards, bettering his previous figures by almost two metres.
Richards also finished fourth in the Discus with an on the day best throw of 20.90m.
Making his Morpeth Northern League debut in the Field events was Under 17 athlete Charlie Lane, who finished sixth in the A String Long Jump, producing a best of 4.68m, which was just slightly adrift of the personal best that he had achieved at Hexham in the NEYDL, the previous day.
Back on the track, Dean Lonsdale and Phil Winkler teamed up well in the 400m and 800m events for Morpeth Men.
In the single lap 400m, Lonsdale finished fifth in the A race, posting a finishing time of 55.57s.
Winkler meanwhile ran a faster time of 52.93s, to finish a very close second in the B Race, which was won by Gateshead’s Justin Cooper, who won by a one second margin.
It was a new lifetime best for Winkler, who is truly in the form of his life at the moment.
In the two lap 800m, the Morpeth pairing reversed their roles, with Winkler finishing third in the A Race in 1m57.41s, which was very close to his lifetime best.
Meanwhile Lonsdale was particularly delighted in winning the B Race, where he posted a time of 2m11.93s, and this following a lengthy period of inactivity, with little or no winter cross country outings of note.
Sam Hancox and Thomas Innes teamed up well in the 1500m,
where Hancox finished third in the A race in a time of 4m14.86s.
Meanwhile Innes excellently won the B race in a time of 4m22.06s.
In the Men’s 4 x 100m Relay event, Morpeth finished third in 52.05s,
courtesy of Charlie Lane, Dean Lonsdale, Sean O’Hara, and Matt Waterfield.
Morpeth Men’s 4 x 400m squad finished second to Gateshead, posting a time of 3m37.25s,
courtesy of Charlie Lane, Dean Lonsdale, Phillip Winkler, and Matt Waterfield.
On to the Women’s events, where Morpeth had ten athletes in competitive action.
The club had three event wins, all in the Field Events, courtesy of Under 17 Athlete Jessica Gardiner,
Under 20 Athlete Bobbie Griffiths, and seasoned Veteran Claire Reid,
who is always a shining example of determination.
Gardiner, who on the previous day broke the Under 17 Hammer record at Hexham in the NEYDL Match,
won the Hammer here, and throwing the heavier 4k implement for the very first time,
and this was her first ever Northern League outing.
She produced a best effort of 39.51m, which won by a 1.40m margin over Gateshead’s Leah Weatheritt.
This also takes Gardiner to No 1 regionally and puts her just outside the top 100 nationally.
Backing Gardiner up well for Morpeth in the B String was Claire Reid, who was very happy
to also acknowledge later that Gardiner had also just broken her own club record in front of her own eyes.
On the day, Reid managed a best of 27.38m, to finish second in the B event.
Gardiner and Reid teamed up again later in the Discus, where Gardiner finished third in the A String, producing a best of 33.62m, which was not only a new lifetime personal best for her, it also earned he an entry standard for the English Schools Championships, something she is already actively seeking in her favoured Hammer event.
Meanwhile Reid busied herself well, by winning the B String event, by producing an on the day best of 31.39m, which also makes her third regionally behind Gardiner, and Gateshead’s Sophie Littlemore,
who on the day won the A String Shot Putt, plus the B String Javelin.
Reid finished fourth in the A String Shot Putt, producing a best of 9.61m, whilst Morpeth’s Lauren Smith,
normally a sprinter, stepped in to Putt, finishing fifth with 5.26m, scoring valuable points.
Bobbie Griffiths showed her prowess, by producing a best of 40.31m to win the A String Javelin,
and once again it was Reid providing good B String backing, when finishing second with a best of 17.68m.
In the Long Jump, Jess Young-Rogers produced an on the day best of 3.95m to finish as fifth in the A String,
and Lauren Smith was a supporting B String for Morpeth, producing a best of 3.18m, also finishing fifth.
Although there were no track victories for Morpeth in the Women’s events, t
here were some good efforts on the day by their small band of athletes.
In terms of match points, the best points for Morpeth came from the 3000m and 4 x 400m events.
In the 3000m A Race, Gracie Hufton finished second, posting a finishing time of 11m34.15s, which was just short of her lifetime best, and Claire Calverley in her very first Northern League, finished third in the B race in 12m53.55s.
Also making her Northern League debut for Morpeth and running over the two lap 800m
for the first time was Rachelle Falloon, who finished third in the A Race in 2m24.96s.
Falloon also clocked a personal best when placing fourth in the A race of the 1500m,
with Claire Calverley claiming excellent points for Morpeth, when finishing third in the B Race.
Jessica Young- Rogers finished fourth and fifth respectively in the A Races
of the 100m and 200m, posting times of 13.13s, 27.65s.
In the corresponding B Races, on her debut Laura Kincaid finished fifth in 14.60s,
and Lauren Smith finished fifth in 28.88s.
Kincaid also teamed up with Lily Heaton for Morpeth in the 400m.
Clocking 68.45s, Kincaid was fourth in the A Race, and Heaton
managed the faster time of 65.95s, to finish third in the B Race.
For Heaton, it was her first outing over the distance.
Earlier in the day, she had also tackled the distance, but over Hurdles, where she had finished fourth in 77.18s.
In the Women’s 4 x 100m Relay, Morpeth finished fifth, courtesy of Laura Kincaid,
throws specialist Jessica Gardiner, Lauren Smith and Jess Young-Rogers, posting a time of 56.97s.
Lily Heaton, Rachelle Falloon, Lauren Smith, and Laura Kincaid combined to
give Morpeth second place in the Women’s 4 x 400m Relay in 4m39.10s.
FINAL MATCH RESULT
1st Leeds City 400pts,
2nd Gateshead Harriers 388pts,
3rd Harrogate Harriers 327pts,
4th Wallsend/Blyth 288pts,
5th Morpeth Harriers 282pts,
6th Middlesbrough AC (Mandale) 217pts.