Woodford’s men’s track and field team enjoyed a strong finish to their BAL Premiership season at Copthall on Saturday where a strong 3rd place finish on the day, also left the team in 3rd place in the League overall for the season. But for some late withdrawals due to injury the team would have pushed for the win in this match. Points on the day saw a strong result from Newham who had been sucked into the relegation area, win with 356 points, from Birchfield with 321, Woodford 315, hosts Shaftesbury 304, TVH 260, Cardiff 259, Sheffield 222, and Swansea who were certain to be relegated prior to this final fixture a distant 8th on 130. Overall League standings saw Birchfield comfortably retain their title with 31 points, from Shaftesbury 23, Woodford 22, Newham 19, Sheffield 17.5, Cardiff 14, TVH 13.5 and Swansea 4, which meant TVH joined Swansea in being relegated. As always this was a strong all-round team effort, notable for three events (including two wins) plus a relay from Jack Lawrie, a further 1500m win (and personal best) from Phil Norman, with further wins from Tosin Oke, Daniel Rowden, and Will Grimsey.
Daniel Rowden: Ran a controlled race to win the 800m comfortably
The Copthall stadium once a fine track and field facility, but one where athletics now has to pay second fiddle to lead tenants Saracens Rugby Club, now sadly lacks atmosphere for fixtures of this sort with all the field events taking place outside the stadium. Nevertheless, Jack Lawrie’s win in the first track event of the day was a good one as he finished the 400mH very strongly to win in 51.04 secs. Later, Jack raced over 110mH and in that “B” race he also won, this time with a personal best of 14.45 secs (+1.6). Barely 15 minutes later Jack was in action again, this time in the “B” 400m flat where he was a good 3rd in 48.46 secs. In that “A” string, 800m/1500m specialist Canaan Solomon (who was due to run the “B’ but stepped in to cover the “A” due to illness) also ran well, buoyed by his 47.4 secs relay split in the last BAL at Bedford, from a standing start Canaan recorded a personal best of 47.93 secs to place 5th, and a slightly more conservative first 200m might have seen him a fair bit quicker. That personal best would have added to his confidence gained with two very recent good runs over 800m of 1m47.12 secs (a personal best) and 1m47.23secs. It was in the “A’ 800m that Canaan’s training partner Daniel Rowden, who recently had such a good run at the Anniversary Games where he improved his recent Club record to 1m44.97 secs, had his victory. After a pedestrian first lap of barely 60 secs, Daniel followed those who made early breaks before making his own, to comfortably win in 1m53.53 secs. Daniel will be back in action over 800m next Thursday in Berlin where he will be representing GB & NI in the European Championships. In the 800m “B” race which was much less tactical affair, Ewan Dyer finished 4th in his second fastest time ever with 1m52.86 secs. Cameron Fillery, like Jack Lawrie, also covered both hurdles and, although a sprint hurdler, stepped in to cover the “B” 400mH to cover a late withdrawal and he placed a useful 5th with 56.92 secs. In his specialist event, the 110mH, he just lost out and placed 2nd, equalling his personal best for the fourth time this season with 14.08 secs (+0.6).
Cameron Fillery: Finished 2nd and is still 7th on the UK 110m Hurdles ranking
Phil Norman, who has had such a fine season and has notably contributed to Woodford’s BAL efforts, raced over 1500m, and in a very good race where the pace was taken out early, it took a personal best for Phil to again win where, after a strong kick with about 200m to go, he held form well in the straight to record a fine 3m45.77 secs. Called into “B” action due to injury to Ed Shepherd, and making his BAL debut, junior Ahmed Abdulle performed admirably and, unfazed by the early pace, he held on well as he improved his personal best by almost 4 secs to place 5th with 3m56.08 secs. The steeplechase was covered by Angus Holford and Ryan McKinlay. Angus recorded a season’s best of 10m01.84 secs to place 6th, with Ryan, far from fit, gamely ensuring 5th placed “B” string points with 11m04.79 secs. The 5000m was a good race and saw Paul Martelletti follow the pace all race and with just two vying for the win at the bell, Paul just lost out in the home straight battle by 0.13 secs, nevertheless recording a good 14m36.92 secs. The “B” was covered by James Stockings and, having been unable to train a great deal with an achilles issue, was a long way from the 15m01 form he showed in Cardiff, but still ensured valuable points with his 7th in 16m35.12 secs. Both “A” and “B” sprints were covered by Chris Stone and Shayne Dewar, and all were good quality races. Chris placed 4th in each with 10.64 secs w (+2.1) over 100m, and in the 200m was close to his season’s best with 21.42 secs (+1.1). Shayne was 6th in the 100m after stumbling out of the blocks but still recorded 10.75 secs w (+3.2) but was 3rd over 200m with 21.85 secs (+0.5).
Robert Wolski: Beat Will Grimsey on countback in the High Jump
In the field the hammer was the first event and, leaving it late until the final round, Andy Frost threw a fine season’s best of 64.32m to place 2nd. In the “B” Peter Clarke was also 2nd with 52.50m. Emeka Udechuku, like Andy a former international, had his first discus competition of the season and, with an unfavourable tailwind, was 6th with 46.31m as Chris Linque placed 3rd in the “B” with 41.81m. The shot saw the consistent Youcef Zatat place 2nd in a good competition with 17.17m, and Anthony Oshodi was 5th in the “B” with 13.60m. The javelin saw Simon Bennett back in action and his 52.06 m placed 7th and Paul Howard was 6th in the “B” with 44.86 secs. In the horizontal jumps late injury withdrawals saw Peter Kirabo step in to cover both gaps and he gained valuable “B string points in both the Long Jump, where he was 7th, and triple jump where he was 5th. This meant Tosin Oke’s long jump counted as the “A” and his 6.82m (-0.9) placed 5th, and in his speciality, the triple jump, Tosin won a good competition with 15.84m. The high jumpers also performed well with both Robert Wolski and Will Grimsey clearing 2.08m and each going close at 2.13, Robert just edged Will on count-back as he placed 2nd in the “A”, with Will winning the “B”. Vaulters also scored well with Nathan Gardner placing 3rd with 4.68m (his best outdoor mark of the season), and Mitch Etheridge placing 2nd n the “B” with 4.28m.
The relays saw both teams place 6th: the 4x100m team of Cameron Fillery, Chris Stone, Omololu Abiodun and Shayne Dewar with 42.29 secs, and the 4x400m squad of Jack Lawrie, Omololu Abiodun, Shayne Dewar and Phil Norman recorded 3m20.08 secs.
Team manager Gladys Bird was pleased with the overall result and of the efforts and team spirit shown by all the athletes who competed on Saturday and throughout the season. Again placing 3rd in the highest echelon of domestic Club track and field competition is a fine performance but looking ahead to next season will be aiming to improve and again challenge for the title.