The ESAA combined events championships, the final of 3 rounds for Warwickshire athletes, were held at Exeter on a blustery and showery weekend.
Having qualified from the county round back in April, to the midland round in June, the county athletes could already claim to be among the best in the Midlands, and in fact were the biggest county contingent from the Midland area which include the larger counties of West Mids, Leicestershire, Oxfordshire, and Derbyshire; 16 out of the 23 from this area.
First off were the Senior Girls in the Heptathlon and Imogen Green (Alcester GS) running a life time best in the 100m hurdles 15.11s, the 4th fastest of the day. She followed this with 1.54 HJ, 9.05m Shot and a PB 25.77s in the 200m leaving her third after the first day. Team Mate Devon Byrne (Rugby School) Kept in touch with16.15s, 1.54, 9.32m and 27.68s 200m; not one PB but 9th after the first day. Day 2 started like a dream for Imogen leaping the furthest of all the athletes 5.26m, the 2nd best javelin throw 30.29m and a clinical final 800m of 2:38.56m to take gold with 4479pts.
Devon struggled like most of the other athletes with a swirling wind managing only 4.70m long J, but her Javelin soared out to 33.36m winning the event and a determined 2:29.88s for the second fastest run of the day moved her up to an excellent 5th place, 4216pts, in her first year as a Senior.
Mary Donaldson (Aylesford) would not claim to be in the same class as the other 2 team members but her contribution was just as important in the team stakes. She raised her performance from the previous round, starting with PBs in the Hurdles 19.79s, HJ 1.21m, PB shot 8.26m, PB 30.63s 200m, 3.71 m LJ, 25.15 Javelin, and 3:04.12s 800m she improved by nearly 400pts for 29th and closing the team score at 11148 an improvement of 120pts and claiming silver for the team only 200pts behind Kent. Not bad for the smallest county.
The Junior Boy pentathletes had to reorganise the Team during the last week due to team drop outs and so were an unknown force. Luke Bromley (Princethorpe) lead off the team with a PB in the 80m Hurdles 11.76s; the rest of the team followed suit, all with PBs in the Hurdles, Rory Dwyer (Stratford High) 12.20s, Adam Wright 12.86s (Lawrence Sherriff), Toby Melville 13.03s (Etone). Shot put, the next event saw Luke produce 11.45m and PBs for the other 3, Rory 8.57m, Toby 10.60, a metre improvement!, Adam 7.75m. Three more PBs in the Long jump Luke 5.28m, Rory 5.54m, Adam 4.89m and although Toby recorded 5.30m he missed his PB. There were yet 3 more PBs in the High Jump; Luke 1.47m, Toby 1.50m, and Adam 1.47m.
Despite an excellent 1.74m, third highest of the day, for Rory this was below his own high standards. The final 800m event had everyone pushing themselves to the limit; Adam was first off clocking 4th fastest of the day 2:12.73s for a score of 2254 PB, 29th /39, Toby Melville followed with a PB improvement of 8 seconds 2:16.52 moving up 7 places to 17th, 2452 pts a PB, Rory had to grit his teeth for this with no previous time but 2:28.88s claimed 16th, 2488pts another PB by 500pts.
Luke’s 2:23.02 moved him up a place to 14th and a PB score of 2520 putting the team 5th overall 7460pts, a best performance by 800pts and less than 70 behind bronze with several athletes still eligible next year! An Excellent Result for all concerned.
Inter Boy octathlete, Luke Townsend (Ashlawn), was the only member who’s Team failed to make the final, but this did not stop him determinedly adding over 300pts to his own best score. Kicking off with a 5.56m long J his next 3 events were all PBs; 31.27m Discus, 34.96m javelin and a 56.09s 400m despite the blustery winds, a sound 19th position after the first day. He opened the second day with 13.92s in the 100m hurdles, the 3rd fastest of the day, and then added another PB in the High Jump of 1.71m. His final 2 events the Shot 9.69m and a spirited 1500m of 5:03.36s earned him 4273pts, 17th /40 and still another year in the age group!
The Inter Girl heptathletes started in fine spirit; Kerry Murch (Rugby High) leading the way with a PB of 11.78s in the 80m Hurdles placing her 3rd closely followed by Hannah Scales (Rugby High) with 12.25s PB in 7th. Asia Ercan (Rugby High) also had a PB with 12.96s followed closely by Iona Beggs (Kenilworth) 13.13s.
All struggled with their high jumping; Kerry and Asia clearing 1.41, and Hannah and Iona 1.38m although this was a PB for Iona. In the Shot Kerry had the counties best throw 9.12m followed by Hannah 7.81m well down on their bests, in contrast the weaker pair had PBs; Asia 6.40m and Iona 7.06m. The last event of the day, the 200m, saw some strong running Hannah the fastest 27.31s, Kerry 27.76s, Asia 27.97s PB, and Iona 30.38s PB.
Kerry at this point was lying 7th. Disaster struck on the second day with Kerry in such pain with her ankle she was unable to continue even though 2 of her best events were still to come. The swirling winds made the long jump a lottery so few managed reasonable jumps. Hannah covered 4.36m, Asia 4.28m and Iona3.96m. Although not outstanding distances, all performed well in the javelin; Hannah 22.42m, Asia 18.08m PB, Iona 21.29m PB. 800m is never the favourite event for heptathletes and in the blustery weather the times were generally slow. Hannah finished in 2:46.36s for 3559pts and 20th, Asia 2:49.00s with 3233pts, her best score and 30th place. Iona ran a PB of 2:57.91s collecting 2943pts a PB and 33rd spot. The team finished 6th.
The final event was the Junior Girls Pentathlon and exceeded Warwickshire’s expectations although the wind once again created enormous problems for everyone. From the first event Ebony Wake (Etone) posted her intentions with the second quickest time over the 75m Hurdles, 11.53s. Close behind team mate Annabelle Pask (Princethorpe) ran 12.10 in 6th, followed by Regan Traynor (Ashlawn) 12.43s and Anna Gamble (Alcester GS) 12.49s PB both PBs. Ebony’s shot of 8.89m kept her in the top 3, while Annabelle’s 8.45m and Anna’s 8.57m were both PBs. Regan managed 6.94m. Ebony and Anna both cleared 1.53m in the high J, a PB for Anna. Annabelle managed 1.41m and Regan 1.38m both well below their hopes.
The wind destroyed continuity in the long jump; Ebony the only person in the competition to clear 5m, but her 5.37m was also well below her best. Annabelle leapt 4.75m, Regan 4.49m and Anna 4.45m.
Not one of the girls was looking forward to the final 800m, especially Regan, who had been unable to complete it during the last round. However at that point Warwickshire discovered they were leading the team points, if only by about 100. This has happened to the county quite often in recent years and the team were not about to give up! First off was Regan who set off with determination, her recent training paying dividends as she recorded 2:49.70s PB, and for the first time moving up by 5 places in the final event to claim 23rd with 2342pts a PB.
Both Anna and Annabelle pushed themselves to the limit, Anna 2:53.81 fractions outside her PB was 13th with 2553pts PB, Annabelle with another PB 2:41.92 leapt up 3places to 9th 2657pts. Ebony was in the unenviable position of defending 1st place and although she stayed ahead of the 3 directly behind her with 2:42.35s an amazing run from 5th place Amy Cooper of 2:20.12 cost Ebony the title by a mere 39 points. Ebony’s score of 3091 was 250 below her best but still gave her runner up in the National final. All was not finished however, multiple calculations later Warwickshire junior Girls were confirmed as national team pentathlon champions with 8262pts, 180pts ahead of Hampshire and south Yorkshire.