It definitely felt like Track and Field season had finally arrived at the new University Athletics Facility,
at Heslington, near York on Saturday 7th May, as Morpeth Harriers embarked on their
2016 Northern Athletics Senior League programme, by finishing
in a well earned fourth place, in their opening round match in Division 2E.
Unfortunately both the club’s Men’s and Women’s squads
had been decimated by late withdrawals for varied reasons,
some valid, some not so, which gave respective Team Managers
David Swinburne and Mike Bateman some much unwanted headaches
in having to seek last minute substitutes in order to fill gaps,
in order to achieve a respectable start to their league campaign.
It did mean that some athletes were asked to try relatively unfamiliar events
in search of valued points, and thankfully with a great deal of willingness
and flexibility in motion, a very creditable result was achieved at the end of the day.
Morpeth Harriers had one of the youngest squads that they have ever assembled,
and the way they got down to the task in hand on a warm sunny day, was very much there to be admired.
Whilst host club City of York proved dominant in winning the match by the significant margin of 104 points,
only a mere 24 points divided Gateshead Harriers, Skyrac and Morpeth,
who were respective second, third, and fourth placed clubs.
On the day the Morpeth Men’s squad managed three A string, and four B string victories,
with the Women achieving one A string, and three B string victories.
Sprinters David Storey and Sean O’Hara, who is still an Under 17 athlete,
achieved a superb double victory in the Men’s 100m,
both posting respective times of 11.3s, which were also both new personal bests.
They very nearly pulled off a second double victory in the 200m, however Storey just missed
out for a win in the A race with 23.2s, whilst O’Hara won the B race in a very impressive 22.9s.
Again as in the 100m it was new personal bests for them both.
Morpeth achieved a second double victory in the Men’s 5000m,
with Thomas Straughan very clearly taking the A race in 15m52.7s, a new personal best,
and Robert Balmbra just securing a win in the B race by one second, posting a time of 16m55.0s.
Balmbra had another B race victory in the earlier run 1500m, where he clocked 4m32.0s,
backing up Jordan Scott’s excellent 4m20.6s, for second place in a very competitive A string.
Mark Snowball, who has recently run an excellent series of 10k races on the road,
certainly showed his versatility, and willingness to try out new events,
when he convincingly won the Men’s 3000m Steeplechase in 10m53s,
taking an early bath at the water jump during the process, and clearly showed
a keenness for gaining points for his club, when finishing fifth in the A string 400m Hurdles in 69.3s.
Morpeth also gained solid results from the 400m/800m partnerships of
Under 20 athlete Phillip Winkler, and Under 17 athlete Matthew Waterfield.
Winkler was fourth in the A race in the 400m, and third in the A race of the 800m,
with respective clockings 54.6s. and 2m03.3s, and in the B races,
Waterfield finished respectively second in 54.0s, and third in 2m10.5s.
It was Waterfield’s first experience of 400m, and he can take added pleasure
that his 800m time gave him new figures for the two lap event.
to add to the club’s rising tally.
Morpeth were hoping for a set of excellent results from the Men’s Field events,
especially the long throws; however they were dealt a very heavy blow to their fortunes,
when unfortunately newcomer Craig Charlton became a late withdrawal
because of family reasons, and was unable to travel.
This left Steven Appleby as the clubs only recognised thrower,
and he was forced to do the bulk of the work in this section.
Appleby’s best individual performance in positional terms came in the Discus,
where he achieved a best of 34.12m to finish fourth, this being his best performance since 2010.
In the Javelin, although he was sixth A string, he did produce a lifetime best of 20.20m.
He finished sixth in the Hammer with 19.53m, and 8.64m in the Shot Putt saw him finish fifth.
In the unfortunate Charlton’s absence Thomas Straughan competed in the B string Javelin,
managing a best of 7.08m for fifth place, and also in the B string Shot Putt,
achieving a best of 5.14m for sixth place, which added more points to their clubs rising tally, small as they were.
Once again it was the oldest of the Women’s squad who did a lion’s share of the work in the Field,
with Claire Reid taking part in no less than four throwing events.
Reid’s best results came in the Discus and Shot Putt,
where she finished second in both A strings, with best efforts of 27.11m, and 10.45m.
She was well backed up in these events by newcomer Charlotte Pickering – Pruvot.
The Under 17 athlete finished second in both B string events, with respective best efforts of 23.41m, and 8.93m.
Reid also finished third in the Hammer (28.15m), and second in the B string Javelin (16.36m),
backing up Under 20 athlete Abby Sheldon’s A string effort of 20.69m,
which saw her finish a well deserved third, and achieving a new personal best.
On the Track, Emma Holt’s win in the A string 3000m was undoubtedly one of the clubs best achievements on the day. She won with seven seconds to spare over Gateshead Harrier Mary Ferrier in a time of 10m27.3s.
Holt later went on to finish second in the A string 1500m in 4m57.2s, running the event for the very first time.
Backing Holt up for Morpeth in the respective B string events were Under 17 athlete Gracie Hufton,
and Under 20 athlete Abby Sheldon, who took respective victories in 12m25.8s, and 5m29.2s.
It was not only Hufton’s Northern League debut, it was also her first experience of running 3000m on the track,
and this was a truly splendid effort, and a victory was truly heaven sent,
and richly deserved by this hard working young talent.
Sheldon and Hufton also shared success in the 800m, with the former finishing fourth
in the A race in 2m34.1s, and the latter finishing fourth in the B string in 2m48.9s.
Back with the Women’s Field events, Under 17 athlete Jessica Young-Rogers
achieved two excellent second places in the A string Long Jump and A string High Jump events.
She produced a personal best of 5.06m in the Long Jump,
and cleared 1.45m in the High Jump to equal her best ever figures.
Fellow Under 17 athlete Katie Hilton finished third in the B string Long Jump with 4.34m,
a personal best, and another Under 17 talent Harriet Priest cleared 1.40m,
to take second place in the B string High Jump.
The Women’s Triple Jump saw Charlotte Pickering Pruvot finish as third A string,
with a best of 9.26m, and Katie Hilton was third B string with 8.40m.
Jessica Young-Rogers finished third in the A string 100m in 12.8s,
and was well backed up by Naomi Arkle, who finished as third B string in 13.3s.
Under 17 athlete Arkle finished third in the 200m A race in 27.5s.
Hannah Brown and Harriet Priest proved to b a formidable pairing i
n the 400m Hurdles for Morpeth for the very first time over the distance.
Brown finished second in the A race in 75.7s; however Priest
went one better by taking the B race in a faster 70.9s.
Priest later finished third in the A string 100m Hurdles in 17.2s.
The Women’s 4 x 100m Relay saw Morpeth Harriers finish a close third in 51.8s,
courtesy of Katie Hilton, Jessica Young-Rogers, Hannah Brown,
and Naomi Arkle, who are all Under 17 athletes.
Morpeth Harriers Women’s 4 x 400m squad comprising
Abby Sheldon, Gracie Hufton, Emma Holt, and Naomi Arkle,
combined well to also finish third in 4m40.4s.
Summarising the overall result, this was a good performance by those
who turned out in both Male and Female events,
and in competitive terms gave their all in pursuit of valuable points,
and this was very much a positive pointer
for what could be achieved over the remaining three fixtures.
Success will only come from commitment however, and while
that was no doubt in abundance from those who competed at York,
they were largely a young squad, some of them with little experience,
who very much need the support of some of the older squad members
to augment what has the makings of a very good end result.
FINAL MATCH RESULT (Subject to further Scrutiny)
1st City of York 461.5pts,
2nd Gateshead Harriers 357.5pts,
3rd Skyrac 345pts,
4th Morpeth Harriers 333pts,
5th Wallsend/Blyth 281pts,
6th New Marske 161pts