WGEL ended their final UK Women’s Athletics League division 1 fixture in third place to miss out on returning straight back to the top tier. The team had started the day in 2nd overall in the division, with confusion still over the previous match scoring leaving scope for a gap to our nearest challengers, but Sunday’s result was definitive with Notts AC winning the match clearly with 230.5 to gain promotion alongside champions Cardiff (209). The WGEL score of 185 left us third in the match and the division, 2 match points behind Notts, with Crawley (167.5) next in both. Shaftesbury Barnet (161) and Harrow (157) followed, with the results of Sale Harriers Manchester (142) and Enfield & Haringey (129) confirming their relegation.
Eike Vardja: a versatile, committed club athlete
First up was Lucy Marshall, who led the way with a comfortable victory in the hammer (57.05), a clean sweep in the league this year, with Steph Howe taking 2nd in the B (42.55). Lucy followed with a PB in the DT, 32.51 and was second in the B SP in 11.07. Silvia Cruz had just enough time to take 6th in the shot, 11.22, before moving on to win to her speciality javelin in 45.41. Eike Vardja (above) took the B JT win in 30.81 and 5th in the B DT, 25.38.
Building on Lucy’s win, the team confirmed its early lead thanks to strong performances in the 400m hurdles, with Anna Nelson 2nd in 59.95 and Taygan Henry winning the B in 64.17, followed by the 800m, with Chloe Bradley (left) 2nd in 2:09.75 and Anna Clark winning the B in 2:13.10. This early track strength could not be sustained however, despite two more strong runs by Anna Nelson in the 400 (55.76PB in 3rd) and 15.38 (-1.8w) for 3rd in the 100m hurdles.
Our jumpers for this match were all first year U20s, but each also had individual track and relay duties. Amelia MacDonald finished 6th in the long jump (5.45) with Denesha Rocastle 6th in the B (4.86). Amelia was then 7th in the HJ (1.55) before going to the B 100 hurdles where she finished 3rd (16.48). Despite the 4x100 relay denying them of their full set of 6 jumps, Denesha was 4th in the TJ (10.50) ahead of Rebecca Fafowora (9.99), who dropped to 3rd in the B after she had to leave. Rebecca (right) had previously been 5th in the B HJ 1.40, having faced the worst of the wind in finishing 8th in the A 100m, in which Denesha was 5th in the B.
Jo Ryan took 5th in the 200m (25.86 -2.4w) having already taken 2nd in the B 400m, while Karina Hope-Bruce was 4th in the B 200 (26.72). By the time Becky Wilby finished 6th in the 1500m in her second fastest time (5:04.72), with Taygan Henry covering the B string in 7th, promotion prospects were receding as Notts established a commanding lead which our double javelin win could only cut back modestly. Our 4x100m team of Denesha Rocastle, Karina Hope-Bruce, Rebecca Fafowora and Jo Ryan finished 5th, in 50.13. Steeplechaser Rachel Lund was 6th, having already come 6th in the 3k flat in hot conditions unconducive to distance running. The 4x400m quartet of Anna Clark, Jo Ryan, Amelia MacDonald and Anna Nelson put up a spirited showing to finish third (3.57.48) and round off a solid team performance for which every member should be proud.
Along with thanks to all the athletes who have competed this season, team manager Keith Newton should be commended for his hard work, as should our officials, without whose points the team would not have been in contention. The final position of third was a fair reflection of a very competitive season in a division which has been harder than it sometimes is, as the team’s performances in 2018 would have been safely mid-table in this year’s premier division. The season has been encouraging for having a better balanced squad than for many years, including notably more junior athletes than veterans, which hopefully bodes well for a successful campaign next year.