A SUPERB combined effort across various age groups gave Stratford Athletic Club’s junior team a surprise victory at the first Heart of England League Division One match in Abingdon, where they won with a 70-point advantage over Coventry Godiva.
“A few athletes were unavailable, but the upside is that it opened up opportunities for others,” said under 15 team manager Mike Sheppard.
“We saw some excellent individual performances with loads of personal bests. Particularly pleasing was seeing new faces performing so strongly on their league debut and combining with established performers all doing their bit to secure a surprising win.”
A spirited team performance from Alex McMillan, Barnaby Richards, Flynn Dathan, Fred Williams, Henry Wheeler, James Verralls and Ollie Hemming meant the U13 boys won their age group by just five points from the home team Radley.
The team also included Linden Williams who won the 75m hurdles (13.50) as well as Tom Weaver and Seb Hillard, who won the A and B shot put with 7.52m and 6.29m respectively.
Despite the blustery conditions, many of the middle-distance athletes had a good day. With Maddie Linfoot taking the initiative to run from the front in the U13 girls’ 1,500m, she and Niamh Hillard gradually burnt off the other competitors and it turned into another exciting finish with Hillard moving away on the last lap to win in 5:26.9 from Maddie (5:31.3).
The other U13 girls – Anna Blokhuizen, Antonia Leece, Caitlin Boyle, Martha Peters, Maisie-Joy Spriggs and Ruby Edwards – made significant contributions to the team’s score, finishing in fourth place, just one point behind Solihull.
The U15 boys’ team was hit considerably by the unavailability of several athletes but two athletes in particular.
U15 middle-distance runners Adam Taylor and Alex Adams helped fill in many of the gaps by competing in the 1,500m, 300m and discus. Their points – along with those won by Caleb Spriggs, Oscar Albanese, Freddie Clemons and Zach MacKenzie – helped the team finish a surprising second in their age group.
Clemons and McKenzie won the A and B 80m hurdles. Clemons’ superb time of 11.20 moved him to the top of the 2019 UK rankings for the age group.
The U15 girls’ team of Annabelle Wolverson, Caitlin Buckley, Charly Marshall, Ellie Deaner, Esmay Baughan, Holly Newton, Issy Newton, Kate Richardson and Lucy Lane won their age group with a 12-point margin from Coventry Godiva.
The outstanding performance in that category came from Poppy Fox-Rowe in the 800m, which she won in 2:27.8. She was followed by Olivia Robinson who finished second in the B race in 2.39.2.
The U17 girls’ team of Catherine Reynolds, Charlotte Gravelsons, Faith Tooze, Faye Gourlay, Jasmine Williams, Maddie Clark and Millie Leighton finished third in their age group with just four points covering the top three.
Georgie Campbell continues to perform well on the track after an excellent winter season and ran away from her Solihull opponent on the final lap of the 1,500m to win in 4:55.9.
The U17 boys’ team combined established athletes with debutants in this age group. Adam Farrow, Cameron Black, Harry Gravelsons, George Fox-Rowe, James Mucklow and Joel Watson all made their mark and helped the team to a comprehensive 29-point win.
Nick Butler (5.99m) and Alex Powell (5.90m) won the A and B long jump respectively, as did Cole Williams (13.30) and Harry Sugden (14.70) in the 100m hurdles.
The U11 athletes – Ella Smith, Libby Walton, Martha Silvers, Alex Wood, Elfric McKenzie, Omarian Gordon and Willoughby Tovey-Gullachsen – competed in a non-scoring event with almost all of them making their debut in this level of competition. Annie Silvers literally ran away from the other competitors to win the 600m in 1:53.7.
Freddie Clemons and Cole Williams were named athletes of the match in their respective age groups.