The first meeting of the 2017 series of the Start Fitness sponsored North Eastern Grand Prix,
took place at Jarrow’s Monkton Stadium, on the evening of Wednesday 19th April.
Several Morpeth Harriers were in action on a fairly busy and competitive night,
being the opening fixture, which ended with the final track
event getting underway at approximately 9.40pm.
Amongst the clubs many performances were no fewer than twelve new personal bests.
Ten of these were achieved on the track, with two excellent bests
coming from two of Morpeth’s star field event athletes.
Andrew Knight, and Bobbie Griffiths both set new figures respectively
in the Under 17 Men’s and Under 17 Women’s Shot Putt events.
Knight Putted a distance of 14.48m, adding a massive 34cm to his previous figures
set at the North East Throws Festival at Whitley Bay, ten days previously.
This gave him victory over his closest rival Zak Zuccaroli of Gateshead Harriers
by a clear margin of 3m39cm, and now places him fourth in the UK rankings.
Griffith’s won by 65cm over Gateshead’s Amelia Bateman, by putting a best of 10.68m,
adding an excellent 57cm to her previous figures, a performance that
also sees her rise to 65th in the UK Rankings in her second best event.
In her best event, the Javelin, Griffiths won on the night with her best throw of 40.19m,
which gave her a winning margin of nearly twelve metres over her closest rival
Jasmine Sharp of Darlington Harriers, and was only a mere 18cm short of her personal best.
Both Knight and Griffith’s are already qualified for the forthcoming
English Schools Championships in July, which are very much
prime targets for these much talented athletes.
Another Morpeth Harrier showing excellent early season form on the night was Rory Leonard,
who produced a superb new personal best of 4m07.1s, to finish sixth in the seeded 1500m A race.
The Under 17 athlete, who also recently finished third in the Mile
at a North East meeting at Whitley Bay, and also took Bronze
in the Northern Athletics 5k Road Championships in Blackpool,
can certainly feel well pleased with this performance, which not only saw him
take a whole six seconds off his previous figures, it also saw him rise
to seventh in the UK rankings, and keeps him in first place regionally.
In addition to Leonard there were six of his Morpeth Harrier
colleagues in action over the four remaining 1500m seeded events.
Jordan Scott and Alistair Douglass, who were running in the Senior Men’s Grand Prix,
finishing sixth and seventh respectively in the B race, posting times of 4m14.9s and 4m17.7s,
in Douglass’s case it was his first 1500m as a returning Senior,
and they were twelfth and thirteenth in the overall times.
No less than three Morpeth Harriers lined up in the C race.
First home was Ross Charlton, competing in his first event as an Under 17 Man,
and he excelled by recording a new personal best of 4m27.0s, when finishing third.
He was eighth fastest in his new age group.
Two places behind Ross was his club colleague Liam Marsh, who posted a time of 4m29.4s,
and he was followed home in eighth place by Connor Marshall, who clocked 4m33.0s.
The fifth 1500m race saw Morpeth’s Gracie Hufton take to the track for her first piece
of seasonal action, and she can certainly feel well pleased with her first outing.
She was fourth fastest Under 17 Woman, posting a time of 5m18.6s, when finishing third in her event,
which improved her personal best by a mammoth eight seconds, certainly an encouraging start,
especially after an excellent Cross Country season, which saw her reach the English Schools,
and it shows great promise for a busy Track campaign, which will include a number of outings
for the Morpeth Seniors, in addition to some possible calls to their Young Athletes squad.
Morpeth Harriers had three athletes in action in the younger age group 1500m events.
Dylan Davies was the pick of these, as he improved his personal best by an excellent
nine seconds when he posted a time of 5m00.8s, which gave him the tenth fastest time in his age group,
fractionally ahead of his club colleague Jonnie Kidd, who was eleventh fastest with 5m03.0s,
having overcome illness and injury problems to make his much-awaited track debut in a Morpeth vest,
following his recent transfer from North Shields Poly.
Davies younger brother Ryan can also feel well pleased with his first Under 13 Boys track outing
in a Morpeth vest, when he finished eighth fastest in his 1500m race, posting a time of 5m42.8s.
Morpeth Harriers Under 15 Girl Hurdler Amy Lott can also feel well pleased
with her first outing over the 75m distance, when she won her heat in 12.5s,
which was second fastest behind North East Champion Philippa Ellis of Houghton Harriers.
Another Morpeth Harrier having a first outing over the distance was Finton Ward,
who was second fastest Under 13 Boy, posting a time of 16.7s.
These two also competed in their respective 100m events.
Lott was seventh fastest Under 15 Girl, with her time of 14.3s,
and Ward was seventh fastest Under 13 Boy, posting a time of 16.8s.
Ellie Longstaff of Morpeth Harriers was a clear fastest
Under 13 Girl in her debut 100m, posting a time of 13.5s.
Club colleague Olivia Gent was fifth fastest with 16.1s in the same event.
Alfie Ward, older brother of Finton, clocked 14.6s in his first ever 100m,
which proved to be seventh equal fastest in the Under 15 Boys age group,
with his Morpeth Harriers club-mate Jacob Clayton clocking the same time.
Morpeth Harriers Senior sprinters, coached by Eddie Hedley, also gave early
season pointers to their respective form, as they tackled the Graded 150m distance.
Fastest on show was Sean O’Hara, who this coming season, will step up to
exclusively Senior competition after entering the Under 20 Men’s age group.
O’Hara proved to be the third fastest overall, and second in his age group,
as he posted a new personal best time of 17.2s for the infrequently raced distance,
however it showed that the former star young athlete is in fine early season form.
Next best Morpeth performer was Senior Man David Storey,
whose 17.6s, was third equal fastest in his age group.
Making a competitive comeback after a year out of the sport, Jake Jardine
of Morpeth Harriers was third fastest Under 20 Man with a time of 17.7s.
Posting a time of 17.9s, his Morpeth club colleague Kenny Harrison was fourth fastest Under 20 Man.
In the Under 17 Men’s 150m competition, Morpeth Harriers newcomer Robbie Anderson
posted a time of 19.1s, which made him ninth equal fastest in his age group.
In her first outing of the season, Morpeth’s Kirsty Lang
produced a new personal best of 21.9s in her 150m heat.
This also gave her the fifth fastest Senior Women’s time of the night.
Close behind her was he new Morpeth Harriers club
colleague Lynsey Cunningham, who clocked 23.0s.
Matthew Waterfield, Joe Dowd, and Naomi Arkle of Morpeth Harriers
all competed in respective heats of 300m Graded events.
Waterfield finished third in the B race, and was the fastest Under 17 Man on show,
when he posted an excellent time of 37.4s, which in turn represented
a four second improvement on his previous best.
Having missed all of the Cross-Country season, mainly due to an injury early on,
followed by Morpeth Rugby commitments, it was good to see another
Morpeth Harriers Under 17 Man back in competitive athletic in the form of Joe Dowd.
In the C race, Dowd finished third, posting a time of 38.5s, which was an improvement
on his previous best by half a second, which also gave him the second fastest time
in the Under 17 Men’s age group behind Waterfield.
Morpeth Harriers may well have found the ideal pairing for 400m competition
in these two for the forthcoming Young Athlete and Senior fixtures.
Another good Morpeth performer over the 300m distance, was Under 20 Woman Naomi Arkle.
Arkle finished fifth in the sixth of seven heats, posting a time of 45.1s, which improved
her previous best at the distance by one second, and made her fastest in her age group,
and fifth equal fastest Woman overall.
Returning briefly to the Field events, Morpeth’s Alfie Ward finished fourth
in the Under 15 Boys Long Jump competition, with his best effort of 4.33m.
Club colleague Jacob Clayton finished fifth with 4.10m.
Jumping 3.51m, Finton Ward finished second in the Under 13 Boys competition.
In the Under 20 Men’s Long Jump, Morpeth’s Jake Jardine
finished second, with his best jump of 5.13m.