After winning the first Match in the West Premier Division on home ground at Witton Park the Harriers were looking to consolidate that good start with another good performance on the day at the Ellesmere Sport Village, home of West Cheshire AC. Apart from the one hour absolute downpour in the afternoon, the day turned out to be a good one for the Harriers as we won the Match with a total of 506 Points, with West Cheshire 2nd (411), Preston 3rd (285), Sale 4th (266) and Wigan 5th (211) – winning both Track, & Field and coming 2nd in the Relay scores.
All athletes who compete, for Blackburn Harriers, or indeed any Club for that matter, are to be congratulated, but there are some instances that are remarkable and need an extra mention. Sitting at the tent as the Match started, athletes and the Team Manager chatting about the Relay Order for later on, and among them, Fawwaz Mustapha. Fawwaz was in for a tough day – 100m, Long Jump, Triple Jump, 4 x 100m Relay – and whilst we were chatting, someone casually mentioned that he come from London where he is at University. “When did you come up, said I”. “This morning says Fawwaz”. This young man, an U20 athlete, got up at some unearthly hour, catching a bus to the train station which left London at 7.00am. He then, once he had got up North, had to get to the Ellesmere Port Sport Village. After the Match, he went straight back the same way to London. Such commitment, coupled with his modesty and humility would win him the Team Managers ‘Athlete of the Match’ Award – if there was such a thing – but as there isn’t, this is the best way of acknowledging him.
Good to see Brandon Zinyemba back, pairing with Fawwaz Mustapha in the 100m, producing two very close races as Brandon won the ‘A’ in 11.10 with the same time give to 2nd place and Fawwaz winning the ‘B’ in 11.30 – a new PB by seven hundreths. In the 200m Brandon was close to his personal best and ran a seasons best 22.9 to place 3rd in the ‘A’ whilst Kyle Mashiter took a comfortable and impressive win in the ‘B’ clocking 23.80. Impressive running also from U17 Abbey Riley in the ‘A’ 100m – taking the win in 12.7, just one tenth outside her best as Millie Coy set a new PB by a tenth in the ‘B’ clocking 13.0 in 2nd. Abbey took on the ‘A’ in the 200m alongside Roxanne Oliver in the ‘B’ which saw Abbey come home in 3rd spot (27.50) and a new PB by three tenths as Roxanne won the ‘B’ in 27.40, the same time given to 2nd place. Since 2018, Roxanne has run just two 100m races and two 200m races in 2021, so pretty impressive to be so competitive.
Impressive runs from Dominic Walton and U17 Thomas Monks in the 400m resulted in two wins – Dominic taking the ‘A’ in 49.90, his first 400m race since August 2019 – with Thomas winning the ‘B’ and continuing his impressive running as he clocked 53.10 in winning the ‘B’ and a new PB by half a second. Sub 52 coming up.
Non-scoring 100m’s had just four athletes, all from Blackburn with Thomas Monks (12.10) and Ben Branton (12.20) in the Men’s & Aysha Karolia (13.90) and Poppy Mae-Preece in the Women’s (14.10).
U20 Ava Leigh and U17 Grace Bontoft took on the Hammer for the Harriers. Ava was just cms outside her personal best (44.42m) as she took 2nd place in the ‘A’ with 44.28m behind Sale’s Hannah Blood (58.46m). Grace won the ‘B’ with an impressive throw of 39.36m, her first time in competition with the 4kg Hammer. Anna Peers really had to push through the pain barrier on the day, and still took on all three throws, Discus, Shot Putt and Javelin. Anna won the ‘A’ Discus with 38.71m as Grace Bontoft took 3rd spot in the ‘B’ with 18.98m for a new PB by over a metre and a half. In the Shot Ava Leigh teamed up with Anna, both A and B strings being won by Sales athletes throwing 13.91m and 12.91m respectively. Anna came 3rd with 10.35m with Ava taking 2nd spot in the ‘B’ (8.75m). Final Throws event of the day for the Women was the Javelin which saw Anna and Millie Coy together – producing a 2nd spot for Anna in the ‘A’ (34.19m) and a win for Millie in the ‘B’ (29.81m).
Anthony Kent and Tony Balko were the Club’s pairing for Hammer, Discus and Shot who got off to a very good start as Anthony won the ‘A’ (45.13m) and Tony won the ‘B’ (31.25m). Anthony came 2nd in the ‘A’ Discus (39.26m) with Tony taking another ‘B’ win with 29.41m. Anthony threw a new PB of 12.11m but that was only good enough for 3rd spot in the ‘A’ as the Wigan and Sale athletes both threw 14m +. Tony made it a very productive day for himself and the Throws squad as he won the ‘B’ with 9.70m.
Going in to the Match, we were already down our best 400m male hurdler who is at University and lost another to injury which meant that John iLunga was taking on Long and Sprint Hurdles on his own – until – step forward, sprinter Kyle Mashiter – ‘I will have a do at that’. Great stuff and great team spirit. Kyle took 2nd spot in 71.30 in the ‘A’ with John also 2nd in the ‘B’ (73.90). When it came to the 110m Hurdles, John was our only Hurdler now and he had a problem with a niggling injury. He was told to take no chances and don’t run, but, he tried a couple in practice and then proceeded to run the race without touching a single Hurdle from the only other athlete in the field from Sale and take the win. In the Women’s 400m Hurdles, Aysha Karolia took another second off her best to set a new PB of 73.80 – 3rd in the ‘A’ – as Roxanne Oliver, who last went over a Hurdle in 2018, took 2nd place in the ‘B’ with 76.70 after driving back from holiday in Wales, straight to the Match. ‘Roxie’ was out again in the 100m Hurdles, and this time teamed up with Polly Pearse which was a joy to see, Polly herself having last hurdled in 2018. The pairing produced two wins with Polly clocking 16.80 to win the ‘B’ from Prestons Miriam Luft (18.70) and Roxie the ‘B’ in 17.10.
Just six athletes in the 800m which really begs the question – where are they all? Such clamouring to get athletics back on after Covid restrictions and packed out Trafford and BMC meetings, but a shortage of athletes for League Matches?
Two from Blackburn, two for West Cheshire, one each from Sale and Wigan. Jamie Teare took the race out with West Cheshire’s Joseph Morrison tucked in behind and Joe Gebbie right behind him. That is how thr race finished with Morrison, the fastest athlete in the field taking the lead some 40m out. Joe finished 2nd in the ‘A’ with a new PB of 1.55.90 – an improvement of two and half seconds – as Jamie won the ‘B’ also in a new PB of 1.55.80 – who last ran an 800m in April 2018 when he clocked 2.22.7 with a personal best of 2.20.9. Tim Raynes and Matt Ramsden ran the 1500m featuring 8 athletes this time, two each from Blackburn, West Cheshire, Wigan and Sale. A really good race in the ‘A’ which had West Cheshire’s Jamie Richardson, having tucked in behind Tim Raynes the whole way round, take it in the last few strides in 4.03.60 with Tim in 2nd spot (4.03.90) – his first 1500m race since August 2019 and a new PB by over a second and a half. Matt won the ‘B’ in a time of 4.16.50.
Having lost one of our Steeplechasers in the week, hats off to Ben Fish who agreed to double up in this and the 5000m, and teamed up with Chris Davies in the 3000m S/C which resulted in a tenth of second spliting the first two athletes as Ben took 2nd spot in 10.16.20, the winner running 10.16.10. Chris won the ‘B’ in 11.02.10 and we think that Chris may have won every ‘B’ Steeplechase that he has run for the Club. On to the 5000m where bottom of age U20 Sam Hodkinson offered to step in for the ‘B’ race after a number of athletes were ruled out for different reasons. Sam and Ben did the trick though as Ben won the ‘A’ in 15.36.60 and Sam the ‘B’ in 17.33.10, the first time he has ever run that distance on the track – the race was also run in a absolute downpour which did not make for good conditions to say the least.
Losing another 400m athlete at the last minute saw sprinter Abbey Riley step to run the ‘B’ 400m and partner with Eleesha Charnley in the ‘A’ – Eleesha taking 3rd spot in 61.20 and Abbey 2nd in the ‘B’ with 66.0. It was good to see Maddie Elliott back in action following her first year at Cardiff University in the ‘A’ 800m placing 3rd with 2.25.50 as Ellen Sagar-Hesketh ran 2.22.60 in 2nd spot in the ‘B’ and just half a second outside her personal best. U17 Abigail Stratton and Sara Baronwska went in the 1500m, the ‘A’ race being won by Abigail in 4.49.40, a long way in front of second place which made it more like a time trial than a race. Sara made her debut over 1500m having done the 800m at the previous Match and won the ‘B’ in 5.21.90. Annabel Ralph was back in action in the 3000m along with Katie Buckingham which had Annabel placing 2nd (11.11.40) behind West Cheshire’s Elizabeth Renondeau and Katie taking the win in the ‘B’ (11.20.10).
Katie Buckingham (11) – Annabel Ralph (1)
Long Jump pairing Ben Branton and Fawwaz Mustapha produced a 2nd in the ‘A’ with Ben leaping out to 5.70m and a win in the ‘B’ Fawwaz jumping 5.67m. Roles reversed in the Triple Jump with a similar result – 2nd in the ‘A’ for Fawwaz with 12.10m and 1st in the ‘B’ for Ben with 11.64m – a new PB by 26cm. U17 Rory Teare was just under his personal best as he cleared 1.70m in the ‘A’ (4th) and John iLunga, again stepped up for the team to cover, jumping 1.50 for 3rd spot in the ‘B’.
Millie Coy jumped out to 4.86m in the ‘A’ Long Jump (3rd) with Abbey Riley leaping out to 4.34m for 3rd spot in the ‘B’. Polly Pearse and Eleesha Charnley were the pairing in the Triple Jump which saw Polly take 2nd spot in the ‘A’ with 10.06m and Eleesha coming 3rd in the ‘B’ with 8.21m.
The Pole Vault was marred by an accident to one of the athletes and we wish him well as he laid prone on the mat for a long time, being cared for by local staff, St John’s Ambulance volunteers whilst waiting for the ambulance. The Harriers two Pole Vaulters Hayden Mercer and George Whittaker had cleared 2.90m and 2.80m respectively at the point in which the competition was held up. It was resumed at the end of the day and the two Harriers didn’t go back in as they had just run Relays Legs – finishing in the PV competiton as 3rd ‘A’ and 2nd ‘B’. Poppy Mae-Preece is going really well and equalled her personal best of 2.30m in placing 2nd in the ‘A’ Pole Vault. A big thankyou to Poppy’s parents and to Haydens parents who put together a plan to get the Poles from Witton Park to another location where could be stored and picked up on the day, so that our athletes had the correct poles to jump with. Really appreciated by the Club. Polly Pearse and Poppy Mae-Preece were A and B respectively in the High Jump with Polly 3rd in the ‘A’ (1.45m) and having some difficulty with her leg and Poppy winning the ‘B’ clearing 1.45m.
The Men’s 4 x 100m was won by West Cheshire in 46.50, with Preston in 2nd (46.90), Blackburn 3rd after having a last minute pull out by Brandon Zinyemba who had damaged his achilles – thanks go again to John iLunga who stepped to fill in at the very last moment, literally as the relay was minutes away – all of which meant we had a team in and running 47.50 with George Whittaker – Kyle Mashiter – John iLunga and Fawwaz Mustapha. Our 4 x 400m team consisted of Jamie Teare – Joe Gebbie – Hayden Mercer – Dominic Walton. They were very comrfortable winners in a a time of 3.30.90 from 2nd place (3.39.80).
The Women’s 4 x 100m team of Abbey Riley – Poppy Mae-Preece – Millie Coy – Roxanne Oliver – came in 3rd with a time of 55.0 whilst our Women’s 4 x 400m team was Maddie Elliott – Eleesha Charnely – Aysha Karolia – Ellen Sagar-Hesketh placed 2nd in 4.27.70.