23/07/2009: Individuals shine amid end of season team gloom…

19th July – UKA Young Athletes’ League, Northern Premier Division, Derby

There were a lot of counter-attractions on Sunday, The Scribe understands; and after the Match of Death the previous month had more or less made certain that the Club wouldn’t reach a Final this year there was a certain degree of lapse in interest. However, whatever the excuses, the fact it that from a team point of view finishing third behind Gateshead and Chesterfield represents a recent low point in Young Athletes’ fortunes. There were simply too many gaps in almost every department, and it’s worrying that it’s hard to see at the moment how many of them can be filled. On the individual front there was no lack of good efforts, with twenty or so PBs up and down the team, and there was no lack of commitment by those who were there; but the absentees were a worry. (Details, as ever, on the Results’ Page.)

Two of the six sections at least had a full turn-out. The Under-13 Lads covered all 17 events (though the Relay team’s result was for some reason missing) and had six wins, including two maximum-score events. In the Shot Jack Gape (who also had a good High Jump) and Louie Hurley (who wasn’t quite up to recent Hurdling form) were way ahead of all the opposition, even though jack only got one putt in (trying too hard with the others!); while in the 1500 Ben Tootle, having looked to be out of it with 300 to go, found a finish to lower his PB, while Kieran Savage is looking more like the real thing every time out. Marcus Tredgold took the B High Jump and added a second in the Long Jump, and the other winner was Cameron Robinson – not, as might have been thought, in the Hurdles but in the B 800. Harry Ansell-Wood lowered his best mark in that event, and the tiny but fiery Tom Harrison sprinted and jumped with his usual determination.

The Under-15 Girls didn’t have as many winners prorate – six out of 21 events – and five of them came in the sprints. Claudia Chrappah, Georgia Yearby and India Wilson raked in maxima in the 100 and 200, Claudia looking particularly classy setting a PB in the former and both the other girls being close to theirs in the latter. Georgia also ran a very sound 1500, which could indicate future possibilities over 400 and 800, while Claudia set another PB in second place in the Long Jump and wasn’t far off in the Hurdles. Needless to say, when the trio combined with Hannah Ukandu (who had a good Shot and decent Long Jump, but managed to tangle herself up in the Hurdles – something to do with adolescent lack of control over growing limbs, The Scribe suspects) The other winner was Millie Parkinson, and like Cameron it was her second-string event, the Javelin, in which she was successful, though she equalled her best High Jump. Grace Coburn looked a lot more like her pre-injury self in the 1500, both Georgina Shaw (who filled an emergency High Jump rule nicely) and Beth Roberts looked more comfortable over 800, and as ever Amena Abdelaziz, the smallest chucker in Leeds, approached her three events with vigour and had a PB Discus for reward.

The Under-13 Girls were missing middle-distance runners on this occasion; both Gemma Keir and Nicola Sawyer found themselves ploughing lone furrows, though Gemma ploughed hers in front of the 800 field for a season’s best and Nicola, having filled in the 150 and set a PB in the process, did it again over 1200 and had (with Gemma) a points-productive Shot competition. There were three wins for Alyssia Carr, including the second-fastest under-13 75m in Club history (now get under ten seconds, lass!), while Melissa Fletcher, who just missed out in the Hurdles (some said she was closer, but the judges didn’t agree, and they have the say) compensated by winning the B High Jump. Both she and Caoimhe Crampton (who sprinted well) were down in the Long Jump, but so were others; a swirling crosswind made things a bit difficult. Again, the relay team was dominant.

There were a couple of gaps in the Under-17 Lads’ ranks (and two more when Jack Mosley was disqualified for two ‘fliers’ in the 200 and Jacob Gardiner no-heighted in the Vault), but there were also eleven winners. To be fair to the two ‘failers,’ they both went on to better things – Jake to a massive PB (13.28) in the Shot and a discus only beaten by the enormous (and very gentlemanly) Alan Toward of Gateshead, and Jack to a flying 400 (chased hard by the vastly-improved Danny Brownbill) and to anchor a splendid 4×400 team to a vest-thickness win in what was probably the race of the day. The most heartening win was probably Tom Webber’s in the 200; ‘always the bridesmaid’ among the sprinters since he was a 12-year-old, suddenly to see him finding form and going well is most pleasing, and he got gritty support in the 100 from Joe Walker. Several of the other wins, in the middle-distances, were tactical affairs; Michael Wood took the 1500 cagily after he and Rohin Dhand had dominated the 800, and Gordon Benson was so tactical in the 3000 that he set one observer’s nerves jangling in case his Macclesfield opponent had a kick (he hadn’t!) before he did likewise in the ‘Chase, in which Rob Torch’s better barrier technique wore down another bold-starting Macclesfield lad. In fact he only one who dropped a point was Alex Hart in the 1500; and he had won the B 3000 first. Possibly as remarkable were Matt Wagner’s two wins; he hared over from the Vault, changed out of spikes, took one Shot-putt and added over a metre to his PB, changed back and won the Hurdles – and by the time he got back, due to the commendable efficiency of the Leeds City officials, the Shot was over! Still, he’d won the B event in his absence! His Hurdles partner Mark Fuszard also had a win, in the B High Jump, supporting Stephen Coles, who was on good jumping form; but Mark was a bit below recent Javelin efforts, though Rob T. produced an unexpected bonus here. Finally, Bradley Robinson, this year’s ‘sticking-plaster kid,’ was put over another gap when Karl Evenden pulled out sick, and made a fair job of his first-ever hammer throw; he improved his Triple as well.

The only winner of the day in a weakened Under-15 Boys’ team was, almost inevitably, Connor Morley, and he had a day and a bit – equalling his best High Jump for the umpteenth time, adding a solid chunk to his best Long Jump and cracking the ten-metre barrier with the Shot, the event that he won. There were quite a few second places; Steven Eastwood had two, and Harry Foster two more, his 400 being a substantial improvement, while Sean Flanagan maintained his 1500 improvement and Matt Campleman amply demonstrated that his recent dramatic Hurdling improvement is no flash in the pan. Besides filling in the Throws with Max Ansell-Wood (who improved his Discus quite a bit) and adding five metres to his previous Javelin, new(ish) member Lorenzo Thompson showed a fair turn of sprinting speed and seems to have potential. However, not all the improvements were at the front of events. At the beginning of the season Danny Harrison looked like a sacrificial lamb being slaughtered in 800 races; he’s still at the back of fields, but he’s improved by about nine seconds in a couple of months, and is looking less sacrificial by the week. Those with long memories could recite a list of people to be found in Club Senior Ranking Lists who started out this way.

The biggest weakness, though, was in the Under-17 Women, where for one reason or another only five people turned out. It’s simply impossible to cover all the events with so few, but the quintet couldn’t be faulted for endeavour; they covered the maximum number of events (there was a no-height here as well) plus a relay, and there were even PBs, wins, and even a maximum-point event when Fran Coldwell and Chloe Harley hit the jackpot in the 300m Hurdles. Fran also won the spring Hurdles and threw a fair Javelin, while Katie Radcliffe set a new triple Jump mark and a season’ best Javelin – to say nothing of a taking one of her Shot attempts in spikes to fit it in between jumps. Caitlin Regan ran and threw, and Emily Robinson turned sprinter for the day; and four of the five were still there at the end in the 4×300.

It’s been a bit of an up-and-down season; both ups and downs have been chronicled, and both have lessons for the Club. One of them is clear, to The Scribe at any rate; somebody’s got to give some thought to getting, motivating and keeping athletes at this age. It needs some serious thought and discussion in the next few months.

18TH July – B.A.L. 10 in 100 Cup, South Leeds

FIRST TASTE OF TWENTY-TWENTY ATHLETICS

The Scribe admits to ambivalence about the revamp of the B.A.L. Cup competition; he feels that the League has been heavily influenced by certain factions not a million miles from Solihull who are hypnotised such words as “initiative,” “streamline” and “makeover,” and think that anything different from ‘traditional’ competition is automatically bound to be an improvement. Some of them are; but he suggests that the idea that all-events meetings take too long for people to give up the time for, while it has some force, could easily finish up with some events virtually disappearing because they’re “hard to fit in.” The Scribe is old enough to remember how many opportunities to compete a not-top-class hurdler, vaulter or any thrower other than a Shot-putter had before Leagues came in – about two a season! – and wouldn’t want to see a return to such things.

However, the “10-in-100” idea (ten events plus a relay in 100 minutes – so why wasn’t it an evening meeting?) is here, and might have some merit;, and as one of the semi-finals was scheduled for Leeds (the Cup Secretary, though a member of Blackpool, Wyre & Fylde A.C., lives in Leeds) Martin Horbury decided at a late hour to put together a Men’s team and had a go. The result – Leeds City finished second, but as only the best two runners-up go through, the Club won’t be involved in the Final. Martin’s report on the meeting, e-mailed to The Scribe, is below.

“On Saturday Bolton United were just a bit too strong, but finishing second by only ten points was an excellent effort from a team mainly consisting of younger athletes in very windy conditions. The team was well served in the sprints; Tom Waiting (2nd, 11.5) got in the mix in the 100 for an excellent 2nd place after a series of false starts, while Tom Mosley, the only track event winner, stamped his class on the 200 with a dominant display (22.9). Both Tom Roberts, third in the 400 (53.6) and James Lavin (2nd 1500, 4.24.7) were using this meeting as part of a recovery programme after injuries, and both got a good work out in tough conditions. Geoff Belcher had great run in the 800, sticking in well with Fraser Jardine and Tom Crowley but not being able to respond when they kicked at 600; nevertheless in the windy conditions his 2.01.2 was an excellent time. Youngest of the track performers was Rob Torch, running over the higher barriers in the 400m Hurdles as a warm up for the BAL match next month and showing (64.5) that he can compete with seniors.

It was a more experienced team in the four field events, with the exception of Under-17 Mark Fuszard, who had a pretty consistent series of Long Jumps (5.53) and once again showed that he can step up to the senior team and contribute. Matt Allison, recently back from his Vets’ international, felt he was lacking a bit of something in the Discus (plenty of people would be happy with 39.47), but got going to win the Shot with another season’s best (12.60). Steve Linsell was feeling a bit flat after recovering from a virus and a hard training session mid week but still took second (1.75) behind the excellent Brian Hall.

The Medley Relay consisted of two legs of 200 metres and two of 400 metres, and the three Toms and Jake Mosley put in a great display. Tom Waiting was probably first to the hand over but Tom Mosley felt he didn’t get into his run to build on that and handed over to Tom Roberts in third. Tom R., however, ran an excellent Leg to pull back a place, to set up Jack Mosley to run a fine 52.4 split which was not quite enough not to lose a place to the flying Josh Allen of Bingley. There is one consolation for the lads; as no previous time over the distance has been recorded, it’s a Club record!

All in all it was an exercise well worth doing. Thanks to Arthur, Pat Schofield, Mick Stark & Bill Torch who helped out with the Officials duties.”

TRACK STUFF – RISE OF THE FOURTH MAN

If readers go back four years, to the time when the then Under-15 Boys Harriers’ team was winning every available trophy, they would find that Michael Salter was frequently the fourth (or fifth) man in the team. Well, he’s still the Fourth Man, but now it’s a bit different – he’s the fourth fastest 800-metre runner in Club history after lowering his best mark, for the fourth time this season, to 1.50.16 at the British Milers’ Club Grand Prix at Solihull on Saturday. The question now is can he become the fourth man to go under the considerable barrier of 1.50 before the season’s out. He wasn’t the only one to put in a fast time there; Ben Craddock very nearly equalled his Best ((1.52.40), while Nick Hooker broke the 3.55 standard to get on to the 1500 Ranking List with 3.54.67. There was also some 3000-metre action which threw up an interesting situation; only about a quarter of an hour after Dave Webb had lowered his PB to 8.14.86 in the A race (beating Adam Grice, who produced a solid 8.25.89) James Wilkinson won the B race and fractionally topped Dave’s mark with 8.14.66 – another best by a substantial 15-second margin which took him to third on the Junior list. Later in the afternoon Joe Townsend set a season’s best with 8.41.42. Elsewhere in Birmingham – at Perry Barr to be exact – Matt Hudson was in action in the Birmingham International Games, adding another good time (14.24) to his consistent season’s Hurdling efforts.

A serious shortage of middle-distance runners training at South Leeds on a Tuesday night usually signifies people going time-hunting at the Trafford Grand Prix, and so it was on July 21st; moreover some of the sizeable contingent who went hunted successfully. Nick Hooker, having got on one List, went for another over 800, and succeeded in hitting the mark with 1.54.81, though Ben Craddock (1.52.71) was a shade slower than Saturday – but two 1.52s in four days ain’t slouching. Tom Roberts advanced his season’s best to 2.02.77, another hopeful sign, but Rob Torch (2.03.87) just missed, though with another good race. On the distaff side Fiona Maddocks ran a sound 2.28.26. Over 1500 there were PBs for Gordon Benson (4.05.54, chasing Geoff Belcher – 4.04.05), Alex Hart (4.33.01) and a big drop for Steven Eastwood (4.32.96), and a season’s best for Adam Grice (4.00.44), but Mike Salter (3.55.56) and Joe Townsend (4.02.05) had probably worked too hard at Solihull, and Mike Wood (4.06.26), though close, was similarly paying a bit for his Derby efforts. There was also action over 3000, with both Will Plastow (just! – 9.04.97) and Danny Davies (9.31.07) recording new marks and Oliver Ziff (9.18.28) a much-improved one, but the real fireworks was from the Ladies, as Emily Klee chopped a good ten seconds off her Best (10.14.97) and Sarah Peterson, besides running 2.29.17 for 800, sliced nearly half a minute off her only previous effort with 10.09.88. In the sprints Kadena Cox (26.26) had a win over 200, and Sam Lowrey (50.72) and Danny Brownbill (52.71) ran sound 400s. They also have field events at Longford Park; Mark Gulliver had a decent evening with Discus (37.50) and Hammer (44.09), but Mark Harrison probably went home happier with two PBs – a big improvement with the Discus to 32.84 and a smaller but welcome hammer advance (33.19).

Stop Press news – The reason for Elliot Todd’s absence from the Young Athletes’ team at Derby was his presence at the European Catholic Schools’ Championships in Portugal, and he’ll be coming home with a Gold medal, having won the 1500m in around 4.12. Mum Lisa, reporting the victory, said his time was a bit disappointing, but he wasn’t used to running in the heat; The Scribe pointed out to her that in Championships it doesn’t matter how long it takes to cross the line, it’s who crosses it first. Time trialists set marks – but racers win titles!

WHERE THE HARRIERS ARE HARRYING

Dispatches from foreign parts reveal the Alpine efforts of Adam Osborne and James Walsh, representing Great Britain in the World Mountain Running Championships in Telfes, Austria. Reporting on the event (and “apologising for the delayed report – haven’t been near the internet for a week or so” – Adam reveals that the Championships “went fairly well. It was a tough race, as expected; the course starts with a loop of the village of Telfes before heading up a very steep trail through the forest, featuring the added hazard of cows on the very narrow path! The race ends with a long, vicious climb, going up to 2300m. I didn’t feel I ran as well as at the Trial but finished a solid 34th. James was 30th, about 30s ahead and Great Britain finished 7th team.” Information from Lunchtime O’Surf indicates that the four British runners finished in exactly the reverse order that they did in the Trial race.

‘Asbo’ goes on to report that he “raced again on Sunday at Grossglockner, also in Austria. This one goes from 1300m to 2600m, up forest trails and around the foot of the glacier before finishing with a 350m climb in the last kilometre. Despite all the climbing there are a couple of descents and some flat(ish) running, and I made up some ground here (the Alpine runners don’t enjoy descending!).” He had a better race here, “finishing 10th, a good 3 minutes quicker than my time last year.” The prizes were interesting – “made a bit of money but also came away with a cuddly marmot!” Sheep, goats, cows on the mountain, and now marmots! What next – yaks???

On July 12th a race was held called the Celebrate Blackburn 5k; at risk of incurring the Wrath of Hull, those who have in the last couple of years been drenched officialling at track meetings at Witton Park might be excused for asking “Why??” Anyway, in incorporated the Northern 5k Championship, which meant that the Cub added another medal to its tally when James Smith finished 4th behind “some Kenyan who didn’t qualify” and took the Bronze behind Matt Barnes and Alex O’Gorman (who he claims only beat him due to “some confusion over where the finish line actually was”). He ran 14.56 to the winner’s 14.37 in a race strongly affected by the wind; the course record stands at 14.08. Mike Burrett “equalled his 16th place at Horwich” the previous week “but a little faster in 16.03.”

There are rumours of another decoration being carved into the side of the North York Moors above Kilburn; the famous White Horse may shortly be joined by a Bouncing Runner. Yes, Folks, Darran Bilton’s been out after the North Yorkshire Pots again, this time at the Kilburn 7, which he won in 36.30 by just over a minute and a half – and when the second man home was Ian Fisher it might just indicate that the Aged Indestructible is on good bouncing form.

Although he’s still receiving regular slap-and-tickle sessions from Chris Corcoran, it looks as if Trevor Wilks is well over the worst of his long-standing injuries; he ran a sprightly-enough effort for a near-veteran (that’ll get ‘Vinny’ worried!) in the Doncaster Town Centre 5k on July 15th, finishing 16th in a very respectable 16.25. This is the second race he’s done in Doncaster in recent weeks; he clearly must like the place. (As a former resident The Scribe can’t think why!)