Victory in the home SAL match on Saturday 13 July took Woodford to safety in division 2 from having been in the relegation zone. This was the second win of an up and down season and was against the 2nd, 3rd and 4th placed teams going into the match. Provisionally WGEL finished 4 points clear of Basildon, with Havering 3rd and the Ipswich/Colchester& Tendring combined team last despite not having a single gap. Fixture clashes weakened all the teams and while the promotion chasing clubs all strove hard to cement their positions, Woodford dominated by event wins.
Photos (by Alex Wardle)
Emmaline Okafor: B string wins in shot and discus
Top individual scorer for the second match running was Lucy Marshall, winning each of the heavy throws with 58.39 in the hammer, and seasons best of 32.14 in the discus and 11.39 in the shot. Each of these was backed up by B string wins for Steph Howe in the hammer and Emmaline Okafor in the SP and DT. The men's heavy throws were not quite as dominant due to some quality opposition. Christopher Linque took the DT in 45.91 with Hugh Williams taking the B in 35.02 while none were lower than 2nd, including Peter Clarke in the hammer despite having the second highest ranked male performance of the day (53.79), with Fergus Harford taking the B in 32.32.
Finally eligible to compete for us in the SAL: Joanne Ryan
On the track, Millie Finch took the B 400m hurdles behind A string Christina Okafor who also debuted over the sprint hurdles. WGEL took full points in the 800m, thanks to Anna Clark, Rebecca Wilby, Videsh Weerakkody and (after a disqualification) U17 Rhys Edwards (2:07.62 PB). Anna had a successful day, also winning the 1500 and B 400 behind Joanne Ryan who was eligible to run for Woodford in the SAL for the first time. Eugene Amo-Dadzie took the 100m and U17 Sikiru Onigbanjo the B string amid unhelpful winds, with another U17 Mary John taking the womens B string behind Eloise Lewis. Paul Scanlan missed out on the 400m win on a photo but Adrian Richards took the B string.
Joba Ashiru: The U17 was head and shoulders above the rest
A lack of specialist jumpers nearly cost the team the match, though U17 Joba Ashiru comfortably won the HJ (1.85) and took the TJ with a single effort (12.86PB). U17 Tolani Alaba was competitive in the pole vault (2nd in 3.10) but athletes including team manager Alan James filled the gaps for limited points.
Having taken a strong initial lead, Woodford were pushed into second mid-match by Basildon and the top 3 teams were rarely more than 10 points apart for the rest of the day. Havering closed up during the 200s, though Katie Skelding took the B string just behind Eloise Lewis. Into the relays the match could go one of 3 ways, but here WGEL were able to exert their authority, with a dominant win in the womens 4x100 (Temi Olusesan, Kyra Boyce, Katie Skelding and Eloise Lewis) in 50.62, the fastest the team has achieved in the league. This was followed by a classy performance by our U17 team (Sikiru Onigbanjo, Tolani Alaba, Aiden Fernando and Joba Ashiru) whose 43.13 to win the mens 4x100 would have been a club record 3 weeks ago but is only the squad’s 4th fastest as they prepare for the Anniversary Games Club:Connect relays next weekend. With our discus throwers closing the gap at the top, Rebecca Wilby agreed to try a water-jumpless steeplechase alongside Zoe Watson to ensure the result came down to the mixed 4x400m. The tactics in this intriguing race in which each team had to put in 2 squads were tricky but both our squad depth and team spirit shone through. The A team (Videsh Weerakkody, Katie Skelding, Anna Clark and Paul Scanlan) took overall victory thanks to 2 strong final legs of 57.8 by Anna and 49.8 by Paul to finish in 3:44.99, beating off Havering who had set the inaugural division record in the previous running of the event, while the B string team (Joey O’Neill, Rhianna Bauku, Eloise Lewis and Merveilles Massembo) also gained maximum points helped by a 52.8 anchor leg by U17 Merveilles.
The result continues a topsy-turvy season, in which the team has alternately finished last then first and while the win means a mid-table position is now assured as long as the pattern doesn’t continue in the final match, also at home on Saturday 17 August. This double headed fixture is likely to prove a lively finish to the league season.