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NAL – Match One, Eton

The National Athletics League got underway on Saturday at Eton where conditions were quite blustery and chilly at times. The format is now the top eight clubs in the UK, based on last season’s results (where Woodford finished 3rd). Woodford were unable to field a full-strength team for a variety of reasons but those that did compete all contributed, with the team consisting of many newcomers plus much experience. Whilst provisional results (Harrow 645, TVH 605, WSEH 463.5, Glasgow 436.5, Woodford 429, Birchfield 388, Sale 371.5, Blackheath 345.5) are still being scrutinised it seems as if Woodford placed 5th on the day and bar a few mishaps could have placed a clear 4th and challenged for 3rd. On the women’s side performances were led by “A” string wins for Mary Elcock and Gwen Datey, whilst Ellen McCartney was 2nd in a very high standard pole vault competition. On the men’s side performances were led by an “A string win for Tosin Oke.

Gwen Datey’s win came in the “A” string 200m where she beat a good field and recorded a personal best of 24.12 secs (-0.8 ) into a headwind. Rebecca Matheson ensured a Woodford double as she took the “B” string in 24.34 secs (-1.2). Earlier both Gwen and Rebecca had picked up good points over 100m as Gwen placed 3rd in the “A” with 11.94 secs (-0.3) and  Rebecca winning the “B” with 11.98 secs (-1.5). Mary Elcock’s win came the triple jump as she took the “A” with 12.58m and was backed up by U/20, Kharina Partridge who jumped 11.39m for 2nd in the “B”. Earlier Mary had placed 3rd in the Long Jump with 5.90m where Amelia Watling was 3rd in the  “B” with 5.30m. Amelia also gained valuable High Jump points with a clearance of 1.40m as did Grace Brennan in the ‘B” with 1.35m. Due to illness to another athlete, Grace stepped into the “B” 400mH where her 66.03 secs placed 4th. In the “A” Jasmine Mitchell placed 6th with 63.35 secs. Grace was also in Pole Vault action where her 2.90m placed 4th equal in the "B". It was in this “A” competition where Ellen McCartney cleared 4.30m for the 3rd time in two weeks to place 2nd behind current world leader Mollie Caudrey who cleared 4.50m.

Back on the track and over 400m Kyra White was pressed into “A” string action and ran well to record a personal best of 57.10 secs for 6th. At short notice sprinter Lakhesia Adams Poku covered the “B” and was also 6th with 59.76 secs. Over 800m Leah Keisler was a close 3rd with 2m09.42 secs and later stepped into a “B” 1500m gap where her personal best of 4m42.87 secs was 5th. Louise Gilbert was also 5th in that “A” race with 4m32.48 secs having earlier backed up Leah in the “B” 800m to also place 3rd with 2m15.77 secs. Short notice absentees in both the 5000m and s/ch meant gaps that couldn’t be filled and no points.

The meeting had started with the women’s hammer where stalwart Lucy Marshall was 4th with 50.74 m as Simbi Sikiru placed 2nd in the “B”. The discus was a high standard competition and debutant Shadine Duquemin was 4th with 50.65m as Danielle Broom was 5th in the “B” with 41.61m. Danielle and Lucy covered the shot recording 11.65m and 9.48m for 8th and 6th respectively. In the javelin Kirsty Bateman-Foley was 5th with 40.22m and in the “B” hurdler and occasional multi-eventer Jane Davidson covered that where her 22.95 was 6th.  In her speciality event the 100mH Jane placed 2nd in a very unflattering hand time of 14.0 secs (-0.9) when seemingly no more than a couple of metres behind the winner who was given a hand timed 13.4 secs. The “B” event saw debutant Jasmine Clark also place 2nd with 13.97 secs.

Sadly there was misfortune however for the 4x100m team of Shona Vincent, Gwen Datey, Rebecca Matheson and Jane Davidson with a dropped baton when leading at the second change. The team did bring the baton home so completed the race in a consolation 7th place. The 4x400m however went better with a solid 3rd place as Kyra White (57.6 ), Leah Keisler (57.1), Gwen Datey (57.6) and Rebecca Matheson (55.5 secs) combined for 3m 47.80 secs.

Tosin Oke was Woodford’s sole “A” string men’s winner on the day. The former (Delhi) Commonwealth Games Champion and London 2012 7th placer and now despite being a M40 remains in fine form and his win in the triple jump came with a mark of  15.40m. Another stepping in at short notice to cover an injury withdrawal was sprinter Merveilles Massembo whose p.b. of 12.79m was good enough to gain 3rd in the “B”. Missing specialist high jumpers, Merveilles cleared 1.70m to ensure 6th “B” string and another sprinter, first year U/20 and debutant Marcel Winter, cleared 1.85m in the “A”.

Marcel had earlier run in the “B” 100m where his 11.28 secs into a headwind (-2.8) placed 5th. Another U/20, Ethan Franklin, was in the “A” and he faced an even stiffer headwind and recorded 11.17 secs  (-4.5) for 6th. Ethan went again over 200m but this time in the “B”, and with his 22.15 secs (-0.7) he was 5th. Another U/20 and debutant Rory Voss was in the “A” and he was 7th with 22.23 secs. M35 Adrian Richards was the “A” string 400m man and his solid 49.27 secs placed 7th. Also 7th was U/17 and another debutant Lucas Emeagi with 49.38 secs.

Joseph Owen was another to debut and he raced over 800m just losing out in the ‘A” race to place 2nd with 1m53.46 secs. Joseph later stepped in at short notice to cover the “B” 1500 where he placed 7th. Backing up Joseph in the 800m was Hugo Massa, another making his debut and stepping in for an ill athlete, and he recorded 1m59.39 secs in 7th. Ahead of Joseph in the 1500m was Joel Doye whose 3m58.40 secs was7th. The 5000m saw M40 Paul Martelletti and M35 Angus Holford each have decent races. Paul was the “A” scorer and his 14m58.42 secs placed 5th and Angus’15m32.03 secs placed 4th in the “B”. In the 3000m s/ch due to absences we were reduced to just one scorer where Videsh Weerakkody, in his first effort over the 3km distance, recorded 10m10.88 secs for 6th. Missing specialist 400m hurdlers, Videsh had earlier gained valuable points in that event when he placed 7th in the “A” as did Alan James in the “B”

In the other field events, Calum Henderson’s 7.01m in the Long Jump placed 4th, whilst decathlete Howard Bell’s sole valid jump of 6.10m from a long way behind the board still gained 4th in the “B”. Howard had earlier placed 4th in Pole Vault with 4.20m and Cameron Wells cleared 4.00m for  2nd in the “B”. Howard also gained useful points in the javelin where his 41.85m was 4th in the “B”. Sadly, Howard didn’t make the first hurdle in the 110mH so was a dnf. Ahead of Howard in the javelin was Bradley James on his season’s debut and his 57.28m placed 4th in the “A”. The discus saw a Woodford debut for Mark Plowman and his solid 49.83m placed 3rd. In the “B” and making his first Woodford appearance since 2015 was M40 Tom Norman, who had been in decent form, but a 31.80m off the cage and two no-throws left him in 5th in the “B”. Mark stepped in to cover the “B” hammer where his 32.35 placed 6th in the “B”. In the “A” it was pleasing to see first year senior Noah Wooding improve his p.b. by over 4m to 46.64m to place 6th. In the shot and over recent injury scares, Craig Charlton showed he is on the way back to decent form and his 15.16m placed 3rd. Aaron Edwards reached 12.75m to place 4th in the “B”.

Woodford’s 4x100m team of Rory Voss, Mathew Adum-Yeboah, Ethan Franklin and Marcel Winter included three U/20’s and they performed admirably just losing out to place 2nd with 41.58 secs. The 4x400m team of Mathew Adum-Yeboah, Hugo Massa, Adrian Richards (with a notable 48.2 secs split) and Lucas Emeagi just lost out on the line to place 3rd but were later disqualified for a lane infringement on the first leg.

The next fixture is at Woodford on Sunday July 7th where the meeting has been awarded a World Atletics E permit by UKA. It will be important that we are able to field a full and strong team for this fixture which is sure to be strong in depth.