ATHLETICS: Rugby & Northampton AC


Excellent second place in opening round of Youth Development League

Rugby & Northampton Athletic Club picked up an excellent second place in the opening round of the Youth Development League at Swansea on Saturday.

The club took small groups of under 13 and under 15 teams to the first leg of the competition, with athletes competing in multiple events, and all doing R&N proud on their way to a silver-medal finish.

Host Swansea Harriers put out a strong team while Cardiff AC made the short journey to their local rivals, with Birchfield Harriers also in the mix, providing an enthralling day’s competition.

The early signs were not good with R&N languishing in fourth place and dropping as low as fifth, with newly-promoted Charnwood challenging Swansea for top spot. However the R&N team responded magnificently with a number of personal best performances and gritty determination seeing the club rising up the leaderboard to finish an excellent second overall.

It was a great day for under 15 sprinter Tom Jasper, who won the 300m A race in a national standard time of 37.5 and moved to sixth in the UK rankings. Jasper followed this with a solid 4m 76cm to take second place in the long jump and he also anchored the 4x300m relay squad to a resounding victory. Along with Rhys James, Ewan Roberts and Aidan Leeson, Jasper brought home the baton in a fast 2.45.2 - a full five seconds ahead of their nearest rivals.

There were a number of other excellent sprint performances with Aidan Leeson clocking 24 seconds in the 200m A race and Oli Lambert 24.7 in the B race, both continuing their excellent starts to the season.

In the under 13 boys category there was a PB for Bradley Whitehead in the 100m, taking third with 13.8, and a similar result for Elizabeth Truslove who recorded a PB of 21.0 in the under 13 girls 150m. It was a particularly good day for the under 15 female sprinters with a double victory in the 100m; Katie Print clocking 13.1 to take the A race and Laurone Ager 13.7 to take the B.

Print followed this with another best in the 200m of 27.6 and there was further success in the 300m where Mia Rudman and Alice Grocott both recorded second-placed finishes in A and B respectively. Both recorded PBs with Rudman finishing in 44.4 and Grocott an equally impressive 44.5.

The sprint hurdles always provide some spectacular racing and under 13 girl Georgina Woodward put in another fine performance to improve her best to 11.9, finishing second in the A race with team-mate Abbie Draper matching that result in the B race with a pleasing 12.6.

In the middle distance events there were a number of very determined runs, not least from Mac Ryder in his first year in the under 13 boys category, who won the 1500m from gun to tape in a personal best of 4.57. Ryder’s achievement was mirrored by under 15 girls 800m winner Poppy Carmichael who destroyed the opposition with a confident tactical performance in another best of 2.24.6.

Charis Hayes continued her progress with a PB for second in the 800m B race and Georgina Woodward took a creditable third in the under 13 800m A race with a PB of 2.34.6.

The under 15 boys 1500m saw Adam Searle and Matthew Rushton run bests in their first year in the category, as they finished third (A) and second (B) respectively, and Rushton’s effort was rewarded by a massive 10-second improvement on his previous record.

The under 15 boys 800m saw another improvement for Ewan Roberts, who clocked an impressive 2.14.9 to take third place. There was also a strong run from Ben Hope as he came second in the under 13 boys 800m with a promising PB of 2.27.4.

There was a similarly strong performance from Amy Walker, making her Youth Development League debut as an under 15 girl and set a new best of 5.06.6 to finish second in the 1500m B race.

The field events provided further evidence of the versatility and strength in depth within the club. There were a number of excellent performances in the javelin with under 13 boy Ben Gidley destroying his opposition with a massive throw of 36.25m and a good start for team-mate Ed Faulds who took the B event with a promising 17.80m.

The under 13 girls also came away with a pair of PB performances to take second places with Adele Blenkinsop recording 16.78m in the A and, in her first ever javelin competition, Abigail Ward threw a creditable 14.98m in the B event. For the under 15 boys, William Ballinger finished third with 32.54m and Thomas Lea improved his best to 29.55m.

In the other events there were some promising efforts with Lucy Laight finishing fourth in the under 15 girls hammer after a throw of 22.9cm while Blenkinsop recorded two personal bests in the long jump and shot put, taking fourth place in both.

The day ended with a number of very exciting relays and highlights were some superb baton changing that saw both the under 15 and under 13 girls win their events. In the younger age group Adele Blenkinsop, Abbie Draper, Georgina Woodward and Elizabeth Truslove won in an excellent 54.9. The older squad, with Mia Rudman, Laurone Ager, Milan Clues and Katie Print, stormed home in 52.7.

In the final standings, R&N collected 486 points to finish second behind Swansea Harriers (553.5). Cardiff were third on 475, Birchfield Harriers came fourth with 451, Charnwood AC posted 444.5 to finish fifth while Solihull & Smallheath were sixth on 330.

The next round sees the team travel to Birmingham’s Alexander Stadium while this weekend R&N host the opening round of the Heart of England League at the Rugby track.