Athletics: Sun shines on Harlow AC athletes at St Albans

Athletics / Thu 25th May 2023 at 02:41pm

THE contrast of a wet and cold Thurrock, surrounded by blocks of flats, and the sunshine in the shadow of St Albans Abbey could not have been starker as Harlow AC embarked upon their second EYAL fixture.

And yet despite the more conducive weather, the numbers participating were smaller than before. The effect of ‘exam season’ on young athletes cannot be overlooked and it was true that all clubs were hit hard by this. Indeed, the League has looked to mitigate the effect by not scheduling a fixture in June; it will hold two in July instead.

The team was fifth overall and there were some strong individual performances to report upon. 

At the last match, Grace Bradfield appeared as a non-scorer on debut in the U13 events. Today, she had to step up to A runner. She ran well for fourth place. Ruby Johnson accompanied her as B runner in fifth place. For the Under 15s Holly Austin tailed into fifth place having picked up a thigh injury whilst running. Danielle Asante was sixth in the B run. Nissi Onafowokan and Ugo Nwachi-Odor showed great spirit by picking themselves up to run again, following their exertions at the SAL match on Saturday. Onafowokan won the A competition, with Nwachi-Odor second in the B run.

On the boy’s side, Noah Brown was fifth in the A race for U13s and Wesley Ezeama-Riok, making his debut, was second in the B event. Elder brother, David, was the club’s sole U15 short sprinter and he won the U15 race in impressive style.

The club could only muster three high jumpers across all ages and sexes: Abigail Jones was fourth in the U15 girls. The other two were both U13 boys. Soshin Yoshitake-Thatcher came third as A competitor and Tate Smith was second as B jumper.

Discus was equally sparse, but the two U13 performances were both strong. Honey Trevelyan-Tucker was third for the girls. Wesley Ezeama-Riok went one better by taking second for the boys.

Ezeama-Riok’s personally good day continued with a first place in the U13 shot put. Ciara Dobson, Conor McEwan and Faryl Wright all stepped up to throw for a point across the age groups. The other notable position was a second place in the U15 B shot, by Isla Garrett for second place.

Seven athletes stepped up to throw javelin. The sole boy was David Ezeama-Riok and he managed fourth. Alisha Brenna made her debut and threw well for a fourth place finish in the U13s; Abigail Jones and Danielle Asante took fifth and third respectively at U15 level and Amaris Asekolenga and Ugo Nwachi-Odor achieved fourth and second in the A and B at U17 level.

The 200m was another with minimal club representation. Ruby Johnson was the only U13 and she was sixth in the A race. David Ezeama-Riok ran another excellent race to win the U15 boys. Conor McEwan stepped in to score a point in the U17 Men’s race. Onafowokan and Nwachi-Odor ran as A and B respectively. This time they reversed positions, with Nwachi-Odor winning the B race.

Harlow’s best performances were reserved for the middle-distance runners: Ciara Dobson ran a well-timed race for second in the U13 800m; Faryl Wright repeated this with another excellent second. Her time of 2.35.2 minutes, if confirmed, will be a huge new PB. And Kamal Ricketts ran a strong race at U15 boy’s level for third.

In the 1500m, Isla Garrett took a comfortable second spot in the U15 girl’s race; Conor McEwan was fifth in the U17 Men’s event, and Manny Richards and Daniel Hundley scored a pair of fourths in the U15 event.

Harlow’s team highlight came in the U13 boy’s race. Both the A and B string runners ran in the same race, and this certainly helped the pair of Tate Smith and Ben Tucker. From the gun, they set off together and shared the responsibility of leading. They complemented one another beautifully and as they injected pace, pulled away from the pack. By the time they entered the final lap, there was fully 80m between themselves and the next athlete. In the home straight, Smith pulled away for first on the track. Tucker finishing second picked up the B win at the same time.

The EYAL is all about encouraging and developing talent for the future. Clearly, across the two matches to date, Harlow has demonstrated that it possesses a lot of young talent. To develop faster, the team needs to enjoy a modicum of success. If the club could mobilise athletes all to turn out on the same day and at the same match, they will be a formidable unit.

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