A windy Trafford was the venue for the 2nd Match in this years Premier West Division which is proving to be a very competitive affair at the top of the table with just a handful of points determining who comes 1st, 2nd or 3rd. Blackburn Harriers won the first Match by just four points from West Cheshire in 2nd, Sale in 3rd a further 3 points behind with the Isle of Man 4th only 14 points behind Sale. At Trafford the gap was even smaller with another win for Blackburn posting 392.5 points in front of West Cheshire in 2nd (390), Isle of Man in 3rd (388) and Sale in 4th (382). It was a nervous car ride home for the Team Manager who said that it was “much to close to call” as he left the stadium for the journey back. He did tell the Club after the results had been confirmed that he “was immensely proud of all the athletes who made real efforts to make sure that we were competitive throughout the day – resulting in 9 new PB’s, 16 Wins and 17 2nd places”. Difficult to pick any one athlete out because every one of them deserved praise. However, the Team manager said that he had to mention one in particular – John iLunga – whotold him on arrival that he couldn’t compete at the 3rd Match as his employer wouldn’t allow him the time off so he “wanted to do as much as he could do on the day to win points for the team”; And that he did. Filling for athletes who weren’t available, John did the 400m Hurdles, 110mHurdles, Shot Putt, High Jump and the 200m – and all with a smile on his face.
Our Throws Squad make such a huge contribution tot he success of the team and did so again with a double win in the Men’s Hammer – Matthew Heywood – the day after qualifying for English Schools – winning the A (47.92m) and Masters Tony Balko winning the B with 29.96m. Tony took on all four throws on the day placing 4th in the A Shot Putt (9.21m), 4th in the B Javelin (27.39m) and 4th in the B Discus (30m). George Whittaker went in the A Javelin and placed 4th with 34.26m. Charlotte Williams was home from the US for the summer and won the Women’s Hammer with 55.66m as she and Emma Harrison – also like Matthew, the day after qualifying for English Schools at the Lancashire Schools Championships – winning the B with a throw of 43.47m. Sarah Henton and Grace Bontoft teamed up for the Discus and Shot Putt – Sarah placing 3rd in the A Discus (39.11m) and 4th in the A Shot Putt (8.49m) alongside Grace who finished 3rd in the B Discus (14.34m) and 3rd in the B Shot with 7.21m. Millie Coy and Isabelle Hartley paired up in the Women’s Javelin resulting in a win in the A for Millie with a throw of 32.69m and 4th for Isabelle – throwing the senior weight for only the second time – in the B (18.06m).
Missing some athletes in the Jumps didn’t deter those who were there committing to the day. Millie Coy was in her first Long Jump competition since June 2021 and came 3rd in the A with 4.85m before being asked by the team manager if she would take on the Triple Jump never having done it before which she immediatekly agreed to do, coming 2nd in the A with 9.10m. Amy Wiggans came 3rd in the B with a leap of 4.11m which was a seasons best and only 6 cms off her personal best. Eleesha Charnley was another athlete who stepped up for the team, again being asked to do the Triple Jump resulting in a 3rd spot (7.71m). Just one athlete in the Men’s Long Jump – Samuel Mutomobo taking 2nd place with 5.45m – just 5cm behind the winner. Similarly in the Triple Jump where Samuel placed 2nd again for a good haul of points with his 11.84m. Missing athletes in the High Jump, U17 Daniel Smith came forward for the team the day after competing at Lancashire Schools and cleared 1.55m in 5th place in the A whilst John iLunga who last competed in the event a year ago, volunteered to do the B clearing 1.45m in 4th. In the Pole Vault, our women’s Pole Vaulter was recovering from injury and in the Men’s they performed very well indeed, both of them George Whittaker and Hayden Mercer – clearing 3.50m and 3.20m respectively – George 2nd in the A with a new PB by 30cms and Hayden 2nd in the B with a new PB by 20cms.
Although we had some of our sprinters missing on the day it was a welcome first competiton in Blackburn’s colours for Charlie Unsworth who paired up with Lewis Black in the 100m – Lewis taking 2nd in the A with a time of 11.3 for a new PB and Charlie with a great start for the Club, winning the B in 11.50. Lewis doubled up in the A 200m setting another new PB by half a second as he came home in 2nd (23.3) with John iLunga – who last ran a 200m in 2019 – also ran a new PB of 25.8 placing 4th in the B. Amy Wiggans and Kara Dacosta were the team pairing in the Women’s 100m which had Amy clocking 13.5 (6th) in the A and Kara 13.3 and 5th in the B which was a new PB by half a second. Kara then set her 2nd new PB of the day as she clocked 26.0 in 3rd spot in the A 200m – an improvement of two tenths alongside team mate Amy Wiggans who clocked 27.4 in the B (2nd), just one tenth outsider her personal best. In the 400m races Joe Gebbie came 5th in the Men’s A Race with 53.1 and a new PB by a tenth with team mate Hayden Mercer clocking 54.50 in 6th place in the B. Abigail Stratton knocked a tenth off her time as she ran a new PB of 58.5 in 4th spot in the A with Beatrice Toman coming across the line in 2nd spot in the B (61.3).
Ben Whittaker and John iLunga teamed up in the 400m and 110m Hurdles, which for Ben turned out to be a frustrating day. Leading the 400m Hurdles for a very comfortable win, Ben tripped at the last hurdle and by the time he got up, the other athletes ran past him, Ben finishing in 4th in the A whilst John took 2nd in the B with 73.6. In the 110m Hurdles, Ben was in 2nd spot coming into the final two hurdles, hit the hurdle and touched it with his hands for an unfortunate disqualification resulting in John taking 2nd place in the A (21.8). Beatrice Toman was our only athlete in the 400m Hurdles clocking 84.1 in 4th whilst Isabelle Hartley running only the second time over the senior height, set a new PB of 22.7.
In the Relays the Harriers took a 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th place in the four Relays. The win came in the Men’s 4 x 400m – (Joe Gebbie, Hayden Mercer, David Holman, Dominic Walton) – clocking 3.30.10 for a four second win over Sale. The Women’s 4 x 400m team – (Ellen Sagar-Hesketh, Eleesha Charnley, Beatrice Tomand, Abigail Stratton) – came 2nd in a time of 4.08.90 behind West Cheshire. In the 4 x 100m Relays our Women’s team – (Amy Wiggans, Isabelle Hartley, Kara Dacosta, Millie Coy) – came 3rd with 53.0 as the Men’s team placed 4th – (Lewis Slack, Samuel Mutombo, Daniel Smith, Charlie Unsworth) – with a time of 46.3.
Blackburn Harriers 4 x 400m Relay teams – Back Row L-R Hayden Mercer – David Holman – Joe Gebbie – Dominic Walton — Front Row – Ellen Sagar-Hesketh – Beatrice Toman – Eleesha Charnley – Abigail Stratton
A really good start for the Harriers in the Middle Distance races as Joe Gebbie and Ben Makin kicked off with a win double in the 800m – Joe winning the A in 2.01 and Ben winning the B in 2.06. Ellen Sagar-Hesketh was just a second outside her best in the Women’s A 800 running 2.23 in the A (3rd) with Keira Haxton coming with a strong finish to take 2nd in the B (2.29). Another double win in the 1500m with Dominic Walton easing to a comfortable win in the A (4.06.6) with team mate David Holman clocking a comfortable win in the B (4.09.01). Tom Blaney and Ben Makin were both making their debuts for the Club in the 3000m Steeplechase which couldn’t have gone better as Ben won the A in 10.20.7 and Tom won the B in 10.50.5. Joanne Nelson and Charlotte Atkinson took on the Women’s 3000m, Charlotte not having run on the track since 2015 and Joanne not since 2019. Joanne – a V50 – only just missed breaking 11 minutes as she clocked 11.01.1 to win the A race with Charlotte taking 2nd position in the B with 11.57.5 – Joanne’s run took her straight into 2nd place in the Women’s V50 National Rankings for 3000m. Josh Birmingham was making his Northern League debut for the Harriers alongside team mate Ben Fish. The A race turned out to be a neck and neck battle between Ben and West Cheshire’s Jamie Richardson which saw Ben pipped in the home straight coming 2nd in 15.06.1 – half a second behind Richardson who ran a massive new personal best by over a minute. Josh ran a mature race and secured the win in the B with 15.41.9
Holly Bradshaw was competing again in The Diamond League in Rome on June 9th just four days after competing in the Diamond League in Rabat where she placed 4th with a height of 4.55m. In Rome last Thursday Holly came equal 2nd with Italy’s Roberta Bruni with a clearance of 4.60m and commenting on her social media she said “Although the bar height from the outside still looks a little modest….today was absolutely massive for me!! For those who don’t know pole vaulting too well I actually pole vaulted today! For those who know pole vault well I got my ass on top of the bend and actually started timing up with the pole instead of crappy steering horrible jumps! This is the first time I have felt this since the Tokyo Olympics!This is what I’ve been waiting / hoping for…good feelings, fresh mind and healthy body! Now I can build momentum from here”.
BMC time again – this time at Watford on Saturday June 11th – saw Jess Judd, Daniel Bebbington and Rob Warner all competing. – all of them taking on the 1500m. (RESULTS). Daniel had run a new personal best of 3.42.98 at Sportcity on May 22nd and at training in the week leading up to this latest race, he comented that he thought he could run faster – and that is exactly what he did – finishing in 12th place in the A Race with a new PB of 3.41.62, a new Blackburn Harriers Club record and moving him into number 30 in the National Rankings. Rob went in the 1500m D Race – his opening race over that distance this year – clocking 3.59. 58. Jess opened up her season over 1500 with a win in the US in April (4.18.15), then won at BUCS (4.10.79) and won the Loughborough International (4.16.36) before coming into this competition. Jess finished in a seasons best time of 4.07.93 in 2nd place behind Ellie Baker (4.07.35).
Qualification for English Schools still remains high on all junior athletes ambitions who come into the Junior, Intermediate and Senior age groups and they have to do it by winning their respective County Schools Championships with the qualification standard – in Lancashire’s case, this was held at Blackpool on Saturday June 11th on what can only be described as the usual windy day by the seaside!! The wind clearly had an impact on the day as athletes who had already set qualification standards or better for English Schools, winning on the day of the Championships but in most cases not with the standard as a result of the conditions. It is to be hoped that Lancashire Schools take this into account when selecting their team. Thirty five athletes from Blackburn Harriers competed on the day with sixteen of them becoming Lancashire County Schools Champions.
Abigail Stratton had already run the Senior Girls qualifying time of 4.42 and won her 1500m race in 4.47.9 and in the Senior Boys 1500m Race where the qualifying time of of 3.58 had already been run by David Holman, he too won his race in a time of 4.11.1. Dexta Thompson was another of the Harriers athletes who had already run the qualification time of 4.06 and was first home in his age category with a time of 4.12.0. Also in the Intermediate age group were Jack Lamb who clocked 4.42.4 and Jack Paget-Fowler who ran 4.44.0 on the day which was just six hundreths outside his best. Sam Aspey was in the Junior Boys 1500m race and ran 4.45.6. In ther Intermediate Girls 200m Niamh Gater ran 28.6 whilst in the Intermediate Boys 100m Charlie Unsworth won in a time of 11.5. Daniel Nuttall had already achieved the qualification standard and won on the day with a time of 11.3 – some three tenths faster than the standard, with Charlie Clanford running 12.7 and Henry Harwood 12.8 in the same race. Millee Schofield has already run the qualification time of 12.6 and became the County Champion winning in 12.8 in a pretty tight finish – 2nd place being credited with the same time. Kara Dacosta had already run the standard of 41.2 and won her race in 42.4. The Intermdiate Boys 400m saw Thomas Monks clock 54.3.
Alisha Lehner became Junior Girls County Champion in the 75m Hurdles winning in 12.9 whilst Junior Boy George Camara ran 14.1 (4th) in the 80m Hurdles. Ben Stratton was another County Champion, this time in the Intermediate Boys 800 winning in 2.06.2 with team mates Codie Dewhurst 2nd in 2.07.6 and Ben Livesey 6th in 2.14.3 – a new PB by close to three seconds. Keira Haxton took 3rd in the Intermediate Girls 800m with a time of 2.27.5 while Oliver Gill was just seven tenths outside the qualifcation standard of 2.05 as he clocked 2.05.7 in winning the championships after qualifying with a win in 2.14.9 and Charlotte Robertshaw ran 2.37.6 (5th) in the Junior Girls 800m.
Isabel Holt was yet another Blackburn Harrier who has already gone well inside the quaification standard for the 3000m on more than one occassion and became County Champion with her time of 10.26.3. Abbey Riley was on the podium in the Intermediate Girls 100m with her time of 13.0 in 2nd place and Ben Boocock was the only athlete in the Senior Boys 400m Hurdles clocking 63.1 in his first time over the distance.
Samuel Mutombo took a 2nd spot in the Senior Boys Triple Jump with a leap of 12.20m whilst Kady Thompson finished 4th in the Intermdiate Girls Javelin with a distance of 24.24m along side brother Felix Thompson throwing 18.38m in the Junior Boys Javelin (4th). Isabelle Hartley placed 3rd in the Intermdiate Girls Shot Putt with 7.38m. Leah Smith was another on the Podium with her jump of 3.35m in the Junior Girls Long Jump and a new PB by 4 cms. Matthew Smith won the Junior Boys High Jump with 1.55m whilst Daniel Smith came 2nd in the Intermediate Boys High Jump with a clearance of 1.60m. Emma Harrison won the Senior Girls County Championships in the Hammer with a throw of 46.13m close to three metres further than the standard with Grace Bontoft in 2nd place on the Podium with her throw of 37.31m as Matthew Heywood did the same as Emma – his throw of 55.42m made him County Champion and exceeded the standard by over 5 metres. George Williams in his first year as a Hammer Thrower threw 34.67m in 1st place.
Nick Gaskell was racing again in the latest of this years Pendle & Burnley Grand Prix Series on June 11th – Weets Fell Race (RESULTS). One hundred and thirty finishers in the race won by Barlick’s Thomas Corrigan in 38.39 with Nick finishing in 11th spot overall, first V50 in a time of 42.24.
On June 10th Chris, Amy and Lindsay Davies ran in the Plough at Eaves 5k which had 13 runners in Race 1 and 27 in Race 2. Chris ran in Race 1 finishing with a time of 16.55 in 3rd whilst in Race 2, Amy came 2nd in 19.38 which was a new PB. Lindsay placed 15th in 22.16.