Athletics: Impressive performances as Harlow AC numbers grow

Athletics / Tue 7th Mar 2023 am31 09:12am

THIS year’s regional and county championships can be considered successful for Harlow AC, not due to medals, but more because of the increase in athletes turning out and competing. A sign that the hard work being done by volunteers to promote competition is beginning to bear fruit.

As is customary, Day One was dominated by the 60m track events, to make way for field events on Day Two. Two boys were in U13 action, Noah Brown, and Adam Cox. Neither boy made it beyond the first round, but both recorded PBS for the distance: Brown reduced his time to 9.00s exactly, and Cox set a mark at 9.72s. The new electronic results system placed them at twelfth and thirteenth respectively in a field of twenty-three.

Also in U13 action were two girls, Saoirse Casey-Bond and Kitty Tyson. Tyson agonisingly missed out qualification by fractions of a second, ending up ninth overall and in a new PB time of 9.05s. Casey-Bond also recorded a PB, 9.40s, and was sixteenth overall in a field of twenty-three.

Holly Austin was in U15 action, alongside debutant Evie Willis. Austin was three hundredths short of her best time, clocking 8.84s for twenty-seventh. And Willis was thirty-first in the thirty-nine-girl field in 8.96s.

Nissi Onofowokan was the club’s sole entrant in the senior age groups. She was nineteenth in a thirty-one-entry field and claimed a new PB in the process. Her best now stands at 8.58s.

Before the hurdle programme got underway, there was Harlow interest in the U15 Girl’s Long Jump. Louise Duffy was making her first appearance of any sort since breaking an ankle. Her best jump of 3.90m was good enough for fifteenth out of twenty-one. With confidence and practice, she will return to longer jumps.

Hurdles was next on track and Harlow had competitors across the female age categories. Sadly, hurdles is much reduced in competitive numbers, but the quality of those competing is high. Duffy made her first competitive appearance on track and was third in her heat. Her time of 10.73s was good enough for ninth of fifteen competitors.

The Under 13 and Senior Women’s events became straight finals, following withdrawals both prior to the day and on the day itself. Saoirse Casey-Bond was sixth in the U13 final in a time of 12.16s. Notably, she was the only first year U13 in attendance. Kitty Tyson continued her good indoor season form and finished third on the track, setting a new PB, 10.39, in the process. The result secured Eastern Counties Bronze, and with the race winner being from Norwich, she was elevated to Silver for the Essex results.

Beth Harryman was in a similar situation with only three senior women. Her time of 9.93s secured second overall and Essex Gold. Harryman, returning from injury, can be satisfied by the time as it indicates she is on course for decent 100m hurdle times in the outdoor season.

Day Two was dominated by longer track events for Harlow, there is only one field event to report. Abigail Jones was making her first appearance as an Under 15 in a very strong High Jump field. She can be satisfied by her afternoon’s work. Coming into the competition, she had previously only reached a height of 1.18m in a multi-event competition. Today, she jumped 1.25m, of course, a new PB and was twelfth of fifteen competitors. Her final attempt at 1.30m indicated that she is capable of even more as she develops confidence in the new age group.

The track programme began with 200m events. Louise Duffy returned for the second day and smashed her PB; she took it down from 32.1s to 30.25s. This was good enough for twenty-fifth in thirty-three competitor field. In the same U15 event, Holly Austin qualified for the semi-finals and ended the day eleventh overall. She also shaved her PB down to a new time of 29.29s. Unfortunately, Adam Cox in the U13 boys was disqualified for running out of lane.

There were eight Harlow athletes involved in the longer distances of 800m and 1500m. The Under 13 events were ‘time trial’ finals, as competitors of this age are not allowed to run two distance races in a day. Adam Cox set a best in 2.52.48m and another newcomer, Soshin Yoshitake-Thatcher, recorded a time of 2.48.70m. This placed both boys as tenth and eleventh in a twelve boy field.

The Under 15 event had a larger field and went from heats to a final at the end of the afternoon. Kamal Ricketts made his track debut for Harlow, following his excellent debut season in the Cross-Country League. He had previously recorded 2.47.0m and obliterated this time as he ran 2.29.4m for eleventh overall.

Manny Richards, qualified for the final by running 2.22.15m. This placed him fourth going into the final. In the final, he ran an excellent race, not tempted to follow the two Havering runners who went out at blistering pace. When one faltered, he and a third Havering athlete were there and ready to pounce. Richards missed out on the sprint to the finish and ended third, further improving his PB in the process. Third for the county and the region and with a new PB, 2.18.52m, was an excellent day’s work.

Rather surprisingly, the Girl’s and Women’s events were all ‘straight to final’ affairs. In the Under 15s, Lacey Cartwright-Murray was fifth in 2.51.41m. And in the Under 17 Women’s event, Abigail Cowling was sixth in 2.48.67m.

The day ended for Harlow with 1500m action. Conor McEwan was making his debut and was the youngest entrant in the U17 event, that was also a straight to final race. He was sixth in a time of 5.00.77m.

In the final reckoning, Harlow fielded fourteen athletes across seventeen events, and the athletes came from across all of the club’s various training groups. There is certainly a growing culture of competition within the club, and the depth of competition is improving. Whilst the club can be satisfied by this weekend’s performances, it must now look to capitalise on both this weekend and the strong cross-country season to build a successful summer season. Many congratulations to all of the competitors, and thanks to all of the coaches and volunteers who have given up so much time to get the athletes to this point.

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