Track and field action got underway for young athletes for the first time since 2019, with the hosting of first round NEYDL matches being held at Middlesbrough Sports Village, Monkton Stadium, Jarrow, and Churchill Playing Fields, Whitley Bay.
Morpeth Harriers & AC, who were the 2019 Division 1 Champions, were in action in the season opener at Middlesbrough. But it was clearly evident that a full year without competition had left its mark on the club, with very few of the championship squad still remaining, and a good number of athletes testing themselves in track and field for the very first time.
There is clearly a great deal of development needed to be put in place in the Morpeth squad, as they could only finish fifth of six competing teams, with a very strong Harrogate squad taking the match, securing just over 800 points, to win by around 112 points over North Shields Poly.
Those who did turn out for Morpeth on the day did their level best and only around a dozen points separated third placed Darlington/Allerton, fourth placed Gateshead Harriers, and fifth placed Morpeth, with Blyth/Alnwick sixth, just over 200 points further adrift.
Strongest results for the club, perhaps not unexpectedly, came from their section of Under 17 Men, with one excellent offering coming from the Under 17 Women.
William De Vere-Owen is to be very warmly congratulated for his first-time solo effort in the 400m Hurdles, where in a torrential rainstorm, he got round the single lap circuit, obstacles included, clearing every one, to post a time of 89.70s.
He was the first Morpeth Harriers young athlete to tackle this since Karl Taylor did so at Middlesbrough (Old Stadium) in July 2007, in what was then the National Junior League.
William also enjoyed a superb victory in the A String 800m, posting 2m06.20s, being very ably supported in the B String by Liam Roche, who won in 2m09.30s.
Another Under 17 Men Morpeth double victory came in the 1500m, where after an early rush of blood to the head by the two Harrogate runners, Bertie Marr and Ryan Davies carefully carved out double success, by posting times of 4m20.10s and 4m25.30s, respectively.
Morpeth’s other Under 17 Men’s victories came courtesy of specialist thrower Edward Gardiner, who won both the Hammer (29.52m) and Discus (27.53m).
Specialist sprinter Evan Logan made a very sound Morpeth debut, finishing third in both the 100m and 200m, posting respective times of 12.40s, and 24.00s.
Morpeth Harriers best Under 17 Women performers were Olivia Gent, who finished second in the A String Triple Jump (8.78m), and Emilia Grundy who won the B String (8.70m).
The Under 17 Women also had a B String winner with Martha Hiscock (2m57.50s), supporting Caitlin Flanagan’s fourth place in the A String (2m37.30s).
Best performance from the Morpeth Under 15 Boys came from Joseph Close (2m15.50s), and Finn Tilmouth (2m34.30s), who secured a club double victory.
Tilmouth showed much aptitude for hard work, as he went on to finish second in the A String Javelin (15.33m), supported by Sam Livingstone’s second in the B String (12.30m), and also second in the B String Long Jump (3.83m), supporting Owen Omoigui’s third place in the A String (4.48m).
There was good team pairing for Morpeth in the 100m and 200m events, courtesy of Omoguie and Conner Phillips.
Omoguie placed third in the A String 100m in 13.00s, and Phillips finished second in the B String in 13.30s.
Phillips finished third in the A String 200m in 27.80s, and Omoigui finished as second B String in 28.30s.
Back to the distance events, and Oliver Tomlinson finished third in the A String 1500m (4m55.40s), with Ollie Calvert finishing second in the B String (5m09.30s).
Morpeth Under 15 Boys achieved the clubs best 4 x 100m Relay performance of the day, when they finished second to North Shields Poly in 56.40s.
Best Morpeth Under 15 Girl performances came from sprinters Freya Caygill and Victoria Hodgson.
Caygill finished third in the A String 100m in 13.60s, with Hodgson taking second in the B String (13.70s).
It was a swap over in the 200m, where Hodgson was third A String (28.10s), and Caygill finished as second B String in 28.30s.
The club’s youngest performers, the Under 13’s, (all of them making League debuts), produced encouraging performances.
Most of their strengths lay in the Girls section, where Molly Roche and Megan Potrac, both enjoyed B String wins.
Potrac won the B String Shot Putt with a best of 4.26m, backing up Charlotte Marshall’s A String performance of 4.95m, which saw her finish third.
Molly Roche secured an excellent win in the B String 800m in 2m55.10s, and Emma Tomlinson and Charlotte Marshall teamed up well in the 1500m, where Tomlinson finished as third A String in 5m56.0s, and Marshall finished as second B String in 6m15.80s.
Despite not securing any wins, Morpeth’s small band of only four athletes fought hard for points, with Daniel Scott and Kyle Phillips in the 100m, securing their best result.
Scott finished as fifth A String in 15.40s, with Phillips finishing fourth in the B String in 16.00s.
With two matches remaining, again at Middlesbrough in June, and Morpeth in July, Morpeth certainly need to re-energise their strengths in order to ensure a respectable finishing position which team managers Mark Brown (Boys) and Vina Desai (Girls) will seek to do over the forthcoming weeks, but willing athletes and willing parents are what is undoubtedly required.
Final match totals are awaiting further confirmation.