ATHLETICS: Second national league promotion for athletics club

Adam Wright won the 800m A string    PICTURES BY BRYAN ACFORD
Adam Wright won the 800m A string PICTURES BY BRYAN ACFORD

Rugby & Northampton AC

In the final match of the season, Rugby & Northampton AC sealed promotion to the second division of the British Athletics League in dramatic fashion.

Aidan Leeson takes over from Adam Wright in the 4x400m relay

Aidan Leeson takes over from Adam Wright in the 4x400m relay

The club started the day in a promotion spot lying in second place in the league standings, however with only 1.5 points separating second, third and fourth it was all to play for.

It soon became clear that promotion rivals Notts AC and Chelmsford had fielded strong teams, and at the halfway point R&N were in third place and outside a promotion spot.

However, an exceptionally strong finish saw the club overhaul Chelmsford to finish second in the match and runners-up in the final league standings to earn a second promotion in as many years in the national league.

This promotion is a fantastic achievement for the club in only their second season back competing in the national league.

Josh Faulds on his way to third in the 400m hurdles

Josh Faulds on his way to third in the 400m hurdles

The club has shown a wonderful team spirit and togetherness throughout the four matches that undoubtedly proved crucial.

They got off to a strong start with Craig Murch throwing an impressive 66.03m in the hammer to take a clear victory, with father Kevin Murch finishing sixth in the B string with 27.69m.

Points were slightly harder to come by in some highly competitive fields across the four jumps. Ian Gidley secured valuable points by finishing eighth in the high jump A string (1.70m) and sixth in the pole vault B string (2.60m).

There was also a personal best for Jason Dankyi in the triple jump, where he took fifth in the A string with 13.27m.

Rob Male in the 5000m

Rob Male in the 5000m

The track programme started with the 400m hurdles, which saw Joshua Faulds stepping up to the senior hurdles to take third place in a time of 55.1 seconds.

Charlie Barker added to his points earned in the triple and high jump with a sixth place finish in the B string in 63.4. This was followed by an outstanding run from Adam Wright in the A string of the 800m. In his first race back since a shoulder operation, Adam led from the front and took the race on against some strong competitors.

With the opposition closing fast in the last 30m he held on to take a fantastic victory and secure maximum points for the team.

Adnan Haq then took fifth place in the B string with 1:58.5. Adam went on to finish seventh in the 1500m A string (4:12.8) with Haydn Arnall finishing seventh in the B string (4:24.7).

In the sprints, Kyle Ennis was once again in fine form, cruising to victory in the B string of the 100m in 10.7 and the A string of the 200m in 21.7.

Caleb Downes finished strongly but narrowly missed out on taking victory in a very competitive 100m A race, finishing second in 10.9.

There were also strong performances from Theo Walkley-Bartlett (16.0) and Harry Salt (16.1) in the sprint hurdles, who finished third and first in the A and B string respectively.

Aidan Leeson took victory in a closely contested 400m A race, clocking a swift 48.7 with Alex Currie taking 5th in the B string (51.8).

Ben Musgrove secured vital points in the 3000m steeplechase by finishing fifth in the A string (10:28.2).

Rob Male (15:59.2) and Richard Latimer (16:35.2) finished seventh in the A string and fourth in the B string respectively to round off the individual track programme.

The last events of the field programme saw the club secure some important points with plenty of high finishes.

There was a fantastic double win in the javelin thanks to some impressive throwing by Leon Bailey and Kevin Murch to take the A and B string in 51.86m and 49.06m respectively.

Matthew Twigg produced excellent performances to finish third in the A string of the discus (41.49m) and second in the B string of the Shot (11.85m).

These points were backed up by junior athlete Alex Hamling, who handled the step up to the senior implements superbly by winning the B string of the discus in a PB of 39.77m and finishing third in the A string of the shot (12.26m).

The day concluded with the relays, where a strong quartet of Adel Sesay, Kyle Ennis, James Wright and Clinton Osoba-George stormed to an emphatic victory in the 4x100m in a swift time of 42.5.

Things were slightly less straightforward in the 4x400m, where an unfortunate baton drop meant the club started the second leg in seventh place.

However the team of Alex Currie, Joshua Faulds, Adam Wright and Aidan Leeson dug deep and fought their way back to a second place finish, with Aidan notably closing a 30m gap to second place on the last leg with an astonishing split of 47.1.

A huge thank to everyone who has been involved in the league this season, especially the officials and volunteers who helped out on the day to make the match possible.

A special mention also has to go to Doug Stark, who missed the last match having moved to America to start a PhD but contributed massively to the teams points tally in the first three matches by doing seven events in each one!

REPORT BY JAMES WRIGHT