[Results link added] Woodford Green AC with Essex Ladies took their first Southern Athletics League fixture of the season at Finsbury Park, narrowly beating St Albans. Hosts Highgate were not as strong as they may have been had their home track been available and finished third, ahead of Barnet&District and Mornington Chasers. The difficulty of getting a team out over Easter weekend was highlighted by Loughton not even fielding a team.
WGEL started very strongly, winning the first 11 events they contested with the majority also including B string wins. Setting the ball rolling, Iris Verweij coasted round the 400h in her first race for the club (also taking the 100h and HJ later on). John Pride was similarly comfortable in his 400h, his first race since 2010.
Lucy Marshall again showed her quality in the hammer with her Female Athlete Of The Match 60.14, and later took the shot (10.62). Katie Petyt honoured the memory of her late coach Bob Corbett with victory in the long jump. Hugh Williams, our top point scorer of the day, started out with success in the SP (12.68), also winning the DT (32.84) and B hammer behind M50 Fergus Harford (35.04), plus throwing the javelin and a PB in the HJ. When U17 Joey O’Neill took the high jump; Anna Clark and Paul Scanlan their respective 800s; and new HCA Eloise Lewis and Olu Ogunseitan (despite a fall due to blocks slipping on the new track surface) took their 100s the team had developed a significant lead which they just managed to hold on to for the rest of the afternoon.
There were wins aplenty in the remainder of the day, despite more gaps than early on which saw the lead shrinking dramatically. U17 Rebecca Fafowora won the TJ (10.20) and B HJ, Christman Ihouma the TJ in 13.54, Nick Leavey comfortably took the 200 (22.02 +2.3w). New member Adam Kirk-Smith was Male Athlete Of the Match in a new division record of 5:49.09 in the 2k steeplechase (within a second of the outright league record), with Rachel Lund taking the women’s event. The men’s team comfortably took the 4x100m and also the 4x400m to close out the victory. The win was as at least as dependent on depth though, among which multiple B string winners were new member Emmaline Okafor (HT,DT,SP) and U17 Denesha Rocastle (100,LJ).
As pleasing as the overall win was that the team was the most balanced WGEL has had in the league, apologies that there were too many fine performances to list them all. It is the first time Woodford has won an away fixture in this league and was notable for wins across all types of events, with the women slightly outscoring the men. Also particular thanks to all our officials who not only make the day possible, but before whose maximum points were added this match would have come down to countback. It sets the club up well for the home fixture on Saturday 20 May, success in which would provide a strong platform from which to push for promotion.