STRATFORD Athletic Club produced an improved performance to finish third in the second fixture of the Midland Track & Field League division three season at Tipton.
The club, who finished fourth in the opening event, still sit fourth overall but can be pleased with their progress after strengthening their team despite several injuries.
Among the highlights was Harry Allwood finishing second in a strong 400m and recording a personal best by a full second. In the middle distance events Stratford had a father and son act with Fin Hutchinson returning from injury in the 1,500m, while dad Tim ran the 3,000m – a much shorter race than normal.
In his first league match for a year, Dan Boyd equalled his best in the long jump to come second before having a good run in the 200m and then came third in the 100m despite almost pulling up with a hamstring injury in the last 10m.
Meanwhile, decathlete Nacho Fernandez had his usual busy day accumulating a hatful of points for the team in the 200m, both hurdles races, discus, javelin and shot. In the shot put both Stratford athletes achieved personal bests with Fernandez joined by club newcomer Roger Milbourn.
In the women’s sprints, sisters Imogen and Jess Sheppard were the mainstay of the team. Imogen was third in the 100m while Jess was second in the 200m. However, in their main event, the 400m, they were dominant, both winning their races by big margins.
The 800m was another strong event in which Daisy Musk won the A race and Emily Field won the B in a PB time. Field, who has recently moved clubs to Stratford, had only set a PB the day before in a school’s race at Exeter so will be very pleased with the weekend. The duo then moved on to the 1,500m and both finished second in their races.
In the 3,000m Cadie Hibberd ran well to come fourth with a remarkable 15-second personal best. In the B race, Emma Bexson claimed an amazing second place. Earlier that day Bexson had completed a 100-mile bike time trial in Monmouth, driven straight up to Tipton and arrived just 15 minutes before her race.
Remarkably, after a demanding day, the Sheppard sisters, Musk and Field combined in the 4x400m relay to win by a full 20 seconds and equal the club record which had been set a month ago at the previous match.
The women’s field events were a strong area for the club. In the first event of the day Kaili Woodward had won the A long jump despite having an ankle niggle. Emily Madden Forman won the B long jump before going on to win the A high jump and triple jump and she also won the sprint hurdles to demonstrate her quality across all the events.
Anna Gionis, who ran well to come third in her main event the 400m hurdles, showed her versatility by winning the B triple jump as well as coming second in the B 100m.
The women’s 4x100m team of Madden Forman, Gionis and the Sheppard sisters matched the longer relay result by winning their race by nearly two seconds.
Special mention should go to Paula Williams who was in all four throws and won the shot, was second in the javelin and fifth in the hammer and discus. As if that was not enough, she was also second in the B high jump and won the B sprint hurdles.
“After consecutive promotions, we are more than holding our own in division three and we are still in with a shout of getting into the top two,” said team manager Paul Hawkins.
“With the amazing team spirit we have and the quality in the squad, we can still do very well this season.”
Report compiled by Paul Hawkins.
Sunday’s scores: 1 City of Stoke 372; 2 Telford 312; 3 Stratford 309; 4 Worcester 304; 5 Halesowen 250; 6 Royal Sutton Coldfield 237.
League table: 1 City of Stoke 12; 2 Telford 9; 3 Worcester 8; 4 Stratford 7; 5 Halesowen 3; 6 Royal Sutton Coldfield 3.