SAL: 4th place leaves team reliant on home matches

Woodford finished fourth and last in the 3rd SAL match of the season at Stevenage on Saturday 15 June, dropping the team dangerously close to the division 2 relegation zone. Hosts Stevenage and North Herts won the fixture ahead of Bexley and Cambridge & Coleridge. Unlike the first two matches, where WGELs women have clearly outscored the other teams, this match saw the smallest womens contingent in years, just 9 athletes, with more gaps than events contested.

The match started out with one of the strongest events of the day, the womens hammer. Lucy Marshall won convincingly with the woman of the match performance of 57.52. The standard of the competition was underlined by non-scorer Shakkira Sikiru’s U/17W club best of 45.15m, which broke the 4kg record dating back to 2007, being less than the winner of the B string. Lucy went on to contest the other throwing events too, including winning the SP (11.03m) and missing the win by 3cm in the DT (31.89m) to end up our highest scorer of the day. The mens throws saw double firsts from Peter Clarke (53.07m, the top male performance) and Fergus Harford (33.55m) in the hammer and Hugh Williams (12.60m) and U/20 Charlie Reid (9.57 PB) in the shot, also picking up PBs, Thomas Finch improved his 2k DT and JT.

In contrast to the sparse womens teamsheet, WGEL had athletes in every mens event (thanks largely to steeplechaser Ryan Mckinlay also covering both hurdles and the pole vault). However, while most of the Woodford women won events, outside of the throws the men did not win a single A string. Winfred Hakeem narrowly lost out in the men's 100m (11.28 -1.5m/s), with U17 Merveilles Massembo taking the B string. Videsh Weerakkody took the B string 800m, just behind U/17 Ben Sloan. Videsh also set a significant PB in the 1500m, 4m12.35 secs

Eloise Lewis was a convincing winner of the 100m. Alicia McArdell took the 1500m with Zoe Watson second overall as non-scorer in a PB of 5:09.79. Rebecca Wilby was another to contest 4 events, including taking the B string 1500m. Having earlier taken the B 200m, U/17 Sophie Anderson produced a strong anchor leg to bring our 4x400m team (with Watson, Lewis and Wilby) to victory in her first run at the distance. Rounding out a frustrating day, the men’s 4x400 team just failed to win the final event.

Two home matches remain in the SAL season. WGEL take on most of the strongest teams in the division in these fixtures and need a strong showing to avoid relegation, starting with the next match on Saturday 13 July.