Athletics: Harlow AC top table in Southern League clash
Athletics / Wed 24th May 2023 at 08:46am
HARLOW’S first victory at a Southern Athletics League match since 2016 came in a fixture that epitomises the state of athletics right now: huge commitment from its devotees, too few officials, a venue that required running repairs and ingenuity to keep events on and yet, somehow, it all came together and worked!
The men’s team consisted of just eight, and the women’s team eleven competitors. Between them, they failed to cover seventeen events of the sixty-eight on offer only. As many of the youngest in the team had lost competitive team athletics due to Covid, and the club’s inability to field teams in the EYAL, it was hugely satisfying to see how quickly they grasped the concept of ensuring that two athletes competed in events.
The match began well with Rhiana Drew and Bebe Jackson throwing the 4kg hammer. Drew threw a new PB with the weight of 24.53m and this was good enough for first in the A competition. She was well-supported by Bebe Jackson, throwing hammer in competition for the first time. Her mark of 17.50m secured second place and a combined eleven points for the team with Drew.
Their achievement was soon followed by the men. This time, Stuart Thurgood, making a welcome appearance in HAC colours, was second, 49.50m. Glenn Paxman, in the first of his eight events took first in the B event with 27.49m.
Track action began with 400m hurdles. This was one of the events left open by the women, but Glen and Carl Paxman stepped up to take a brace of first places.
This was swiftly followed by the 800m. Alfred Corrigan and debutant, Sonnie Mowatt, ran excellent races, working together to push each other along. The more experienced Corrigan followed the break by the leader and took second. Mowatt couldn’t cover the move but had opened enough of a gap to take third on the track and first in the B scorers.
Meanwhile, in the field, Millie Upton made a welcome return from university and took fourth place in the A Long Jump. Bebe Jackson was first in the B competition. In the men’s event, Glen jumped 5.48m for second place. Another debutant, Sam Dawson, was second in the B competition.
100m action was next on track. There were no men, and two senior women were making their debuts. Nissi Onafowokan, fresh from her success at Hertfordshire County Championships, was second in 13.1s. Ugo Nwachi-Odor ran a PB, 13.8, for fifth.
3km action was next. Another making his debut, Hayden Garrett, was sixth in the A race in a time of 11.14.0 mins. The women ran at the same time and Sharon Wright took third in 11.37.1 mins.
Corrigan and Mowatt teamed up again in the 400m. Corrigan returned a fifth place and Mowatt an excellent second place. Perhaps spurred on by these performances Onafowokan and yet another debutant, Amaris Asekolenga ran strong races for a third and first place finish in the women’s event.
Shot Putt was a profitable event for the team as they picked up a collective three firsts and a second across the sexes. Dave Bauer was second in the A competition, with Glen Paxman, Millie Upton and Beth Harryman taking the wins.
High Jump went one better with a quartet of wins: those responsible were Harryman, 1.60m, and Upton, 1.35m. In the men’s event Glen and Carl Paxman recorded 1.60m and 1.40m respectively.
Harryman concluded her day in the short hurdle events. She hit barrier three quite hard and yet somehow maintained her balance enough to keep going and win the race in 17.2s. The Paxman twins were the sole entrants in the men’s race guaranteeing the team twelve points. For the record, Glen pipped Carl on the track!
Back in the cage, Drew and Jackson picked up first and second in the women’s Discus events. Bauer and Glen Paxman repeated this for the men.
In the next two events were the examples of how the younger team members realised the importance of ‘team.’ In the 1500m, Sharon Wright was fourth in the A event. In the men’s event the team had no entrant. Until Garrett volunteered and literally ran to the line to start! He was sixth and scored a valuable point in terms of the narrow margin of victory.
The second example of team mentality came in the women’s javelin. Upton threw 17.80m for third and Asekolenga, realising there was only one B scorer, entered and literally stuck a javelin in the ground. Whilst this may not be high-end athletics, it was a smart way to garner five points. In the men’s event, Glen Paxman was second and Carl won the B string.
Garrett repeated his selflessness in the 200m. Sam Dawson was A scorer, and was fifth, but there was no B string. Garrett again volunteered and was also fifth. In the women’s event, Onafowokan was third and Gift Mutale, yet another first-timer, ran a PB for second in the B event.
The final event on the field was Triple Jump. The men earned a brace of second places in the form of Glen Paxman and Sam Dawson. Upton was fourth in the A event and Bakima Kabia stepped up to take second in the B competition.
The men could not muster a team for either the 4 x 100 or the 4 x 400, but the women could. The 4 x 100 team was third and the 4 x 400 team second.
At the day’s end, Harlow managed a thirteen-point lead over Ilford for a very satisfying win.
Harlow 259, Ilford 246, Orion & Loughton 218, Braintree 186, Bedford 167, Newham and Essex 77.
Well done all.
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