ATHLETICS: Great team spirit to stay in division

Some of the Rugby & Northampton AC senior team and officials at Stoke
Some of the Rugby & Northampton AC senior team and officials at Stoke

Rugby & Northampton AC

Midland League

Division 1, Round 4 - Stoke,

Sunday, August 7

Rugby & Northampton AC went into the final match of the season, at Stoke on Sunday, lying in fourth place in the league but needing a strong performance as they were one of five teams who could potentially fill one of the two relegation places.

The big danger were the home side who always have the potential to turn out some top names in their bit to avoid the drop.

As expected it was a strong and closely fought match with all teams bringing full squads but with each having weak events.

R&N knew that they needed to finish at least fourth on the day to guarantee safety.

After six hours of hard competition which saw R&N contesting the lead at the halfway point, the mighty Birchfield won to match to secure their place as Champions whilst Stoke battled their way to second place and R&N finished a strong third to finish in second place overall, narrowly missing out on the runners-up slot.

On a day where winners were hard to come by, it was all about the team performance and competing in every event to pick up vital points.

With summer holidays in full swing resources were stretched so the team was made up of the club’s whole age range, from a group of U17 debutants all of whom performed creditably right through to 68-year-old Dave Cowley, who combined his timekeeping duties with the B string Pole Vault where he finished 2nd.

That team spirit was epitomised by Kerry Murch who competed in her maximum allowed seven events and scored an impressive 37 points as well as encouraging the younger members of the team on debut, whilst several other athletes completed four events.

The club’s only A string winners were Craig Murch who threw a mighty 64.47 in the Hammer and Evie Harris-Jenkins who threw the javelin 39.92 metres in spite of the windy conditions.

But it was a string of consistent A string performances and B string victories by the men’s squad which provided the foundations of the team performance.

Theo Walkley-Bartlett took second place in both hurdles events as well as third in the Pole Vault whilst Jason Dankyi also took second in Triple Jump to go with his brace of B string second places in the High Jump and Long Jump.

Kevin Murch threw a season’s best of 50.06m to take third place in the Javelin, Adnan Haq ran a smart tactical race to take third in the 800m and Andy Reeves dealt with wind well to finish third in the High Jump. With several regulars missing, the sprints weren’t their usual source of victories but Dan George, Tom Cheyne, Charlie Barker, Josh Faulds and Chris Morgan all picked up valuable points.

In the B string John Moreland led the way with a brace of victories in the Hammer and Shot whilst Andy Reeves and Charlie Barker won the 110m and 400m Hurdles respectively and Thomas Lea threw a PB of 42.50 to win the Javelin.

Joe Musgrove took second place in the 800m whilst Chris Morgan was also second in the Triple Jump with Craig Murch picking up a solid third place in the Discus.

The distance events proved to be very competitive so points were hard fought but Ben Musgrove, Alistair McDonnell, Pete Currington and Joe Wise all had solid races.

For the ladies’ squad the best results were from Kerry Murch with second places in the Shot and 100m hurdles along with third in the Long Jump.

Hollie Moore made her debut over the senior 400 Hurdles and finished a creditable fourth in 73.3.

The spirit of the team was personified by Olivia Sheehan and Anna Robinson, both of whom learnt to Pole Vault for this fixture and succeeded in clearing the opening height, narrowly missing the next height as well as covering their normal events.

The sprints were covered by Sophia Offord, Katie Langton, Maddy Wells and Flora Courtney.

All performed well in classy races with Katie picking up a big PB in the 400m in spite of the windy conditions.

The throws were covered by Kerry and Evie along with Debbie Murch, who had a busy and successful day winning the B-string Shot as well as excellent seconds in the B Javelin & Discus and fourth in the A string Hammer.

The distance races in this league are always of a high standard but Tilly Lea, Tamara Hardman, Hollie and Olivia all battled hard to pick up the points which were on offer.

After the disappointment of the last match, all four relay teams successfully finished to round off an exciting and enjoyable day’s competition.

The final results were:

1 Birchfield 395

2 Stoke 345.5

3 Rugby & Northampton 325

4 Cannock & Stafford 309

5 Bristol 306

6 Wolves 290.5

So, a very close match where every performance in every match counted to the final result.

Birchfield were once again champions with Wolves and Stoke being relegated. Thanks also to the coaches and officials who work hard to help and support the athletes.