Team Perform Despite Traffic Chaos

A severe delay on route to Cambridge for the penultimate match of the year for the junior green vests could easily have spelled disaster for any hopes of maintaining a top twelve league finish.  However, swift thinking by those who had managed to arrive in time and a day of lengthy team changes by Team Manager Michelle Martin-Whymark and parent helpers, meant all was not lost.

At the end of a remarkable day with the team showing not just talent and resilience but great spirit, and despite an already depleted team, those who were able to attend, rose to the occasion and amassed a total nearing 600, for a solid third place finish; and importantly held onto ninth in the league.

Six athletes shared the top point earners slot at this meet; all amassing 19 points each with Hollie Martin- Whymark and Samuel Shippey claiming two first places and a third respectively. 

Outstanding performances of the day came from middle distance queens Lyla Belshaw and Milly Presland.  First year Under 13 Belshaw set off at a determined pace and had already opened up a 20m lead at the first bend.  With the rest of the field forming a chasing pack she didn’t give them an inch and carried on opening up her lead to 50m at the bell.  In a display of superlative running this diminutive athlete pushed on hard for a brilliant last lap, crossing the line some 100m and 21s ahead of the next athlete.  Her time of 5.06.2 smashed her previous Club Record by 6s and propels her up the UK rankings to 33rd with just five other first years ahead of her in the category.

Having competed the U17 women’s High Jump earlier in the day where she came second, Presland, was then able to relax and focus on just the one-track event and not to be outdone, lead the 1500m from the gun to the tape amassing an enormous lead. Presland continued to apply the pressure finishing strongly to break the line just outside her PB in 4.56.80

Credit must be given to U17 Missy Buxton who has consistently lowered her 1500m PB at each outing this season, her time on Sunday lowering it by another 4 seconds to 5.53.4s.  Thomas Colsell has been a steady member of the team this season, doubling up over both the 800m and 1500m at each match to accumulate a decent score each time, his efforts at the weekend rewarded him with two great PB’s, knocking a whopping 9.5 seconds off his 1500m time (4.48.1s) and a good 3.0 off of his 800m (2.16.2). This time out he was joined by Luke Orrin who made his track debut and ran the majority of the race with a niggly lower leg injury. George Mann recorded a great new PB in the 800m coming home in third to finish in 2.18.17s and further added to the team tally with his second place in the B string 400m and a PB of 59.5s . Young Harrison Leek bagged himself a PB in the 800m in 2.35s whilst William Long lowered his 1500m time to 5.07s. Under 13 Emily McGill returning to her favoured event the 1500 after some time out through injury, improved her PB by 11s running 5.51.80 placing first in the B string. Maisie Waterson and Maddison Filer Sinclair both found themselves bumped up the team in their U17 800m and both conducted themselves well.  Alice Begg, unable to compete the 800m due to delays took on a non-scoring role in the 1500m and did herself proud with a new best time of 6.06.00.

Opening up the day’s competition, U17 Josephine Larkin held the fort in the Hammer cage, producing a great effort to bring home maximum points with a best of 43.36m, she also put in solid showings in the Shot and Discus to gain second place positions in both. Mum and Coach Denise Larkins ensured the event was still open for Olivia Simon, who literally had the swift walk from the coach to the track as her warm-up before her first effort. Hardly ideal conditions for this youngster who next week will be pitching her wits against the best of the nation at the English Schools Championships in Birmingham.  Undeterred, she obliterated the competition with a best throw of 39.55m – once again some 20m ahead of the next best athlete. She then went on to claim a PB in the Javelin with a best of 18.57m, she also competed the Discus.

Swiftly making names for themselves are U13 Field duo Alfie Harris and Wyatt Larkins.  Between them these two very young throwers gained 38 points from their respective events with each of them taking a first and two second place finishes. Harris enjoyed a fantastic day claiming a trio of PB’s with best throws in the Shot (8.20m) Discus 19.18m and 20.19m in the Javelin – no wonder he was grinning from ear to ear.  Larkins took B string first place in the Shot with 7.83m, followed by a great second place in the Javelin with 17.99m and closed his day with second in the Discus with 16.07s.

New U13 signee Archie Smith, will certainly be one to watch as he progresses: unable to compete his scoring Long Jump Competition due to the delays, he decided to make use of the day by entering the non-scoring event and earned himself a great official PB of 4.45m.  He shows natural aptitude as a sprinter, clocking a second PB of the day with 13.9s in 100m with his hat trick coming at the end of the day in the 200m where he ran 28.3s. He also formed one quarter of the U13 boys relay team. Alex Walder gained an enormous improvement in his Long Jump PB. Competing early in the day he leapt to a best of 4.36m from a previous best of 3.29m.

Success came for U15 Jakub Walecki who in the space of an hour bagged himself two new PB’s; adding over half a meter to his Shot Put best to throw 9.92m and third place points, he then  followed that up with a decent increase of just under 2m in his Javelin best, to throw 34.93m for a good second place finish . Although disappointed not to achieve a new PB in the U15 Boys High Jump, Walecki performed well to claim maximum points with a clearance of 1.65m. 

Team-mate Sean Emeka-Ugwuadu proved equally profitable as B string in the same High Jump competition gaining first place with a best of 1.60m.  In the U17 event Harvey Daniels had to settle for 1.60m but was still elated from his Pole-vault competition where he took second place by adding 10 cm onto his personal best to clear 2.80m and edges closer to that 3m Club Record.  Daniels also added great points in the Javelin where he took a good second place.  U15 Zion Ateba was using the match as a warm-up for her English School debut in the High Jump.  Entering the competition at 1.40m she looked in control but sadly was out jumped into second place with a best clearance of 1.55m. She went on to add a further second place in the Long Jump with 4.63m.

In near perfect conditions for the sprint events, Decorum and Tring certainly were the team to beat; and that was exactly what Hollie Martin-Whymark achieved; taking a decisive lead from the middle lane after 70m and holding out for a clear win in the shorter event. Her 200m was a closer battle, but she did well to relax whilst under pressure and edged into the lead to cross in 29.3s.  In her penultimate meet as an U13, she also ran a clean neat 70m Hurdles to take third place in 13.6s.  Jess Scotchmer added a hand timed PB to her profile in the 200m, committing to the race from the gun she held out against athletes much larger than her slight frame, to cross in 30.9s.

U15 Olivia Gillon was suitably pleased to have nudged her 100m time down by .16s to 13.5s whilst achieving second place.  In her 200m she came off the bend in third place and despite losing form over the last few meters she held on well for third in her second PB of 27.7s. Maya Rattray was pipped on the line into third place earning herself a long overdue PB in her U17 100m race clocking 12.8s. Her 200m event saw her compete a better race, looking strong throughout she drove off hard down the straight to stay relaxed and held off a challenge to snatch first place. Training buddy Shanii McLean, unwound those long legs to stretch out ahead of the field in her 100m B string race to lower her best time to 13.1s. Despite looking unbalanced as she came off the bend in the A string 200m, she found a new gear and drove hard for second place to smash her PB crossing in 26.1s for a top 100 UK ranking.  U15 Oliver Crisp ran a superb race, smashing his PB by.3 to lower his time to 12.6s, claiming with it good third place points against tough opposition and equalling the time of his team-mate Sean Emeka-Ugwuadu who ran the A string race to match his PB.

Stepping into the U17 A string position for the first time, Joseph Clarke was delighted to cross the line in fourth place with a PB of 11.8s, and now needs to learn how to relax in fields of this calibre.  He also added to the team score by gaining a deserved second place points in the B string 200m.   After a disqualification at the first time of asking in the U17 men’s 100m B race Sebastian Jacobs in his first ever scoring position rose to the occasion to smash his Season’s Best  by over 1 second to finish in 12.5s and  earned excellent second place points, whilst Jack Banyard running as non-scorer was close on his heels in 12.7s.

A week on from taking bronze medal on the same track in the 200m, Sam Shippey looked confident going into his 400m. From Lane 5, he opened up a significant lead and kept adding air between himself and the opposition, and with no one to challenge, the win surpassed a slow’ish (for him) time of 53.2s.   His 200m was a much closer affair altogether and provided excitement for Harriers spectators as he and Decorum and Tring battled hard for pole position, with Shippey being given the win in the same time of 23.3s. 

Jennifer Palmer equalled her PB in the 300m of 44.7s and will no doubt see this time drop now that she has moved coaching group to work with Steve Garnham. As B string, Madeleine Claydon having missed her first two events due to the delayed coach, gave it her all and performed well, staying with the leading three she claimed a new PB of 45.00s and maximum points in the B string. Eve Hood set off cautiously in her U15 event over the same distance but pushed hard for home to edge through the field and gain a great second place. Running her first ever 300m Emily Henderson never gave up and was cheered home for a new PB of 50.6s.

Special mention must go to new U17 signee Anna Simon who earnt valuable points for the team at the last minute in Long Jump and Javelin as well as the Taylor sisters, who both stepped up to scoring positions or changed events to help secure points for the team. Megan Taylor took on A string 75m Hurdles and graced herself with a new PB of 14.6s to run a clean race.  She went on to add a PB in High Jump of 1.30m and for the first time ever leapt to 4.03m in the Long Jump earning with it second place points. Younger sibling, Amelie sacrificed a much wanted official 100m time to replace those stuck on the coach in the U13 High Jump to clear 1.10m, she gave a great showing in the Discus to claim second place and also competed 70m Hurdles.

Anna Ritchie enjoyed a good day out; having stepped into the 800m at the last minute she achieved a good time of 2.52s, then had a big PB in the High Jump to clear 1.35m and second place.

George Harvey joined the team late in the afternoon and looking fresh after a night of Proms fun stepped up to cover Shot with a fourth-place finish and then accomplished a fabulous PB and second place with a best throw of the javelin of 43.12m. adding 3m onto his previous best. Reliable team member Aliyah Soames was unable to continue her run of PB’s but still put out a very respectable best in the U17 women’s Javelin and shot events to complete them both in third place.

In the Triple Jump U17s training partners Milly Presland and Madeleine Claydon had their own mini competition, each one pipping the other on each jump with the final outcome Milly placing 4th in the A string with a jump of 8.36m against Madeleine’s B string 2nd place of 8.35m.

To close the day, the relays saw some odd lane draws, with Harriers having to run blind from the outside lane, whilst non scoring teams were given central positions. Harriers U13 girls and U17 women were the highest placed, both finishing in good second place positions. 

This season the club have also consistently managed to field a full complement of Officials, for which the club is allocated extra points to the total result; some of whom miss watching their own child’s events due to their duties during the competition.  Thanks also go to the many parent helpers who assisted throughout the day.

The final match of the EYAL calendar takes place at Allianz Park on Sunday 11 August, where the team will need to secure a strong team to guarantee a chance to compete the Plate Final in Bedford on 15 September.