Another year, another YDL match. To some it may feel like Groundhog day but for the truly enthusiastic team manager it is just the start of another exciting journey through the highs and lows of the team performance. For me, however, it just represents another opportunity to practice my legendary skills in ‘persuading’ athletes to do events they didn’t even know existed before they came into my team!
As is traditional now the first match took place in temperatures that were well below our expectations and the early sunshine did not last as the cloud closed in. That allied with a grim headwind down the home straight gave some challenging conditions in which to to race, jump and throw. Harvey Haddon in its new improved form rose to the challenge and the visiting teams were universally complimentary about the match and the organisation, thanks to Richard Paulson, his team of umpires and Adrian, Ange and Jane in the results cabin. Thanks also to the unsung heroes in the tuckshop.
As usual it is impossible to list all the individual highlights but several deserve a mention. Anna Purchase broke the league record for the hammer with a stunning 59.90m throw. Charlotte McLennaghan celebrated her qualifying time for World UK Juniors the previous week by dominating the 100m and 200m sprint leaving a quality field of athletes trailing in her wake. We dominated the Pole Vault with 5 first places in 5 events being a massive contributor to the team score. A big PB for Louis O’Connor in the 400m – 48.9 (an improvement of over a second) puts him at 11th in the UK U20 rankings although it came at a price with a calf muscle tear.
The other feature of the day was to see a good list of middle distance runners – men and unusually women – in previous years we have struggled to fill all the events available to us in this team and to be able to report just one gap in the U17 women middle distance was very satisfying. Some good pbs as well resulted with Jake Dyer doubling in the 800m and 1500m and recording big pbs in both. Ellie Cooper, Sam Richardson and Neve Wakefield recording pbs in their events and Louisa Lemon and Tom Stillie lopping a massive 20s and 28s off their 1500m pbs. Emma Williams and James Dickenson showed real promise in their debuts in the U17 3000m.
In the throwing cage and circle we dominated the U17 hammer with Rhys Owen and Harry Ilyk, 5 out of 6 shot putters threw personal bests and Arun Bhupal showed a glimpse of real promise in both javelin and discus. Harry Griffin made his debut in high jump – a clearance of 1.60m rewarded the faith of the coaches in his ability. Lucy Silvey and Holly Townsend made their debut in the javelin with Lucy also winning the U17 B pole vault and coming 2nd in the U17 A triple jump.
No YDL match would be the same without a mention of those athletes who went the extra mile for the club. Logan Durand was in the U17 B long jump but decided to create his own event the long jump and forward roll. Tom ‘mind that crisp packet’ Viles provided a lot of entertainment to his so-called friends in the triple jump but won valuable points. Beth Newton as ever plugged gaps in the U20 team with the high jump and hurdles in addition to her regular pole vault. Rebecca Hall, joining the team from the university also plugged gaps in the 100m hurdles in addition to her regular 400mh event and ran a great relay leg. Amy Keady showed great resolve volunteering to run a steeplechase followed shortly by a very impressive final leg in the 4x300m. Finally at a moment’s notice Liz Pennington and Arun Bhupal bailed out the U20 4x100m relays after injuries left both teams in crisis.
If there was one complaint it would be our inability to fill certain events – If we could find some steeplechasers (MMK scored 56 points from steeplechase where we scored 4) then our position would be massively improved.
All in all a great team performance as I have come to expect – the end result of 4th just 44 points adrift of Marshal Milton Keynes felt like a frustrating reward for some excellent performances.