Athletics: Plenty of heart in North Herts from HAC youngsters

Athletics / Wed 19th Jul 2023 at 09:18am

RIDLINS Stadium, in Stevenage was the venue as Stevenage and North Herts hosted the latest round of the Eastern Young Athletes’ League. It is a similar refrain that, once again, Harlow’s team numbers were small. However, there was plenty of quality on show and a core group of youngsters is emerging to nurture going forward.

For the U17s, only eight athletes were in attendance: Nissi Onofowokan made a welcome return, following a long spell away after exams and volunteering. She managed a fourth placed finish in the 100m. She was joined by Summer Toppin, who was sixth in the B race. She then jumped in the long jump and was some way form her best, as she found the tricky winds difficult to contend with.

The only other female athlete at this age group was Rhiana Drew. She won the Hammer convincingly and was third in the Discus. She also threw the shot close to her target distance of 8m as she managed 7.94m for fourth. This was a new PB.

Junior men from the Middle-Distance training group covered as much as they could on the track: Conor McEwan and Hayden Garrett both ran the 200m for team points. Both were sixth in their respective races. They were both involved in the same 1500m race but placed fifth and fourth respectively for the A and B positions.

The final participant for U17s was Samson Brichieri-Colombi. He was second in the Javelin, with 44.15m.

Ten athletes contested the U15s and proved again just what can be achieved when people are willing to step up and do something for a point. They deserve a lot of credit for this. 

Unfortunately, they were hampered by injury to Thomas Graham in his first event, the long jump. Nevertheless, the 4.35m he did achieve before his quad strain was good enough for third in the B string. Manny Richards was fourth in the A event with 4.86m.

Thomas Grey ran a PB 14.1s 100m and followed this up with a 29.46s 200m. He was the only first year U15 in the field and can be encouraged by his performances.

Kamal Ricketts ran a solid 300m, claiming third spot and followed this up with a strong third place finish in the 800m. Judging by his finishing speed, there is more to come as he learns how to manage the event.

Manny Richards threw the shot 7.67m for third in the event and took to the track in the 1500m, as replacement for the injured Graham. This is a notable act of selflessness as he was originally slated for the 800m. However, he switched to the 1500m to ensure the team had two competitors in the field, maximising team points. His performance saw him fourth in the field.

He was behind George Watkins who was involved in a tremendous tussle with a physically larger competitor and was squeezed out of the victory in the final few metres. His time of 4.25.65 mins was a new PB. Watkins day didn’t end there as he threw the javelin to take third in that competition. 

On the girl’s side, Holly Austin had a happy return from injury and illness, coming through unscathed. She was fifth in the 100m, fourth in the 200m and gained another fourth in the long jump. 

Carys Cofie was fifth in the B 100m and stepped up in the discus for a team point. In fact, she managed two by finishing fourth.

Faryl Wright was fifth in the 300m and then ran a strong 800m for third. Her day ended with the long jump, in which she was third in the B competition. 

Isla Garrett showed the same team spirit as Richards had as she switched events to maximise team points. She was fourth in the B 300m and second in the B 800m. She was then fourth in the B javelin, although there was some controversy as, what appeared to be a valid throw, was deemed foul and was certainly longer than most in the B event. Newcomer, Jasmine Larke threw as A competitor and did well for fifth in the event.

The U13s were perhaps the most complete individual team on the day and who knows what they could have achieved had there been just one or two more competitors.

Alfie Jackson continued his impressive form as he was third in the A 100m, fourth in the A 200m and threw the shot, for the first time, 7.16m for second in the competition.

Soshin Yoshitake-Thatcher ran a good 800m for fourth but saved his best performance for the B 200m. He ran an impressive bend and held his form and showed speed as he dipped under 30s and claimed the win.

In the 800m, he was accompanied by debutant Olaf Karazniewicz who picked up third in the B competition. Karazniewicz’s day became even better as he threw the discus 11.37m for fourth. Ben Tucker ran the 1500m and was fifth in 5.14.66 minutes.

Ciara Dobson earned valuable points as she threw the shot for the first time, and was sixth in the A string, and ran the 200m to ensure the team did pick up as many points as possible. She was also fourth in the B long jump.

Zoe Kaku made her scoring debut, having previously appeared as a non-scorer only. She was second in the 200m in an excellent 29.01s. Later in the day, she was fifth in the discus. 

Behind Kaku, in third in the B competition, was Emilia Larke making her team debut. Another newcomer was Rosa Nyakenen. She would have learnt a lot from the experience, as she came fourth, and looks a good prospect for the years ahead.

The rest of the success for the U13s came in short track events:

Lacey Murray was second in the B 100m; Kitty Tyson was fourth in the 100m A competition and an impressive winner in the 70m hurdles. And training partner, Saoirse Casey-Bond, was third in the B race.

The day concluded with Harlow being able to field four relay teams. Once again, testament to team spirit as a mixture of throwers, middle-distance runners and sprinters came together for the finale.

Most noteworthy, the U13 Girl’s team, consisting of four genuine sprinters, won their race by a significant margin and in a time of 57.96s. Of course, with a weekend of fixtures, times will change but this mark sat the team as fiftieth in the country at that time. The damage was done with a superb first change leaving all opposition fully 25m behind. With such a significant advantage it was theirs to lose. No such mistake was made and Kaku had the luxury of cruising home. 

Despite the club’s youngest competitive members strong showing, not having volume of performers saw the team fifth overall. Those in attendance showed a lot of spirit and can be satisfied by a job well done.

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