Youngsters impress on national stage
Rugby & Northampton’s youngsters starred in the UK Youth Development League Finals at Birmingham’s Alexander Stadium, producing impressive performances in both the under-13/15 and the under-17/20 events.
The club were one of only two to have teams in both finals, which were contested over the first weekend of September. On the first Saturday of the month, the U13/15 Finals were held, with R&N finishing in sixth place overall – a fine showing among some very strong teams, considering a number of the youngsters were competing in their first major final.
Oliver Lambert was the star of the show, triumphing in the U15 80-metre hurdles in 11.13 seconds, setting a new championship record in the process. It was the same result in the ‘B’ race, where Sam Tutt took the honours in 11.60.
There was more success for the ‘B’ string with under-15 athlete Jaime Nalus picking up two sprint victories, taking both the 100m and 200m honours in respective times of 11.69 and 24.03.
The next day saw the U17/20 Finals take place and R&N athletes helped themselves to 49 medals to once again finish sixth, in another mightily competitive competition.
There was plenty of gold among those medals, with Adam Wright leading the way courtesy of two ‘A’ string track triumphs. Under-20 athlete Wright won both the 800m and 1500m, with times of 1:54.51 and 3:59.51 ensuring victory.
Success continued with Isaac Akers taking the honours over 3000m in 8:59.68, while the U17 athletes also impressed around the track. Jay O’Leary grabbed gold in the 400m hurdles (59.54), and the age group helped themselves to more glory in the 4x100 and 4x400 relays.
Franklin Fenning, Jack Hocking, Aiden Leeson and Tom Cheyne joined forces to take the sprint event in 44.69, before Leeson and Hocking combined with Josh Faulds and Tom Jasper to seal the 4x400 in 3:31.89.
It wasn’t just around the track where R&N were impressing, as U17 women Kiona McLennon, Evie Harris-Jenkins and Eleanor Broome were all victorious in the field.
Harris-Jenkins launched the javelin 38.39 metres to take her place at the top of the podium, Broome leapt 5.86m to claim long jump glory and McLennon’s shot put effort of 12.58m secured another gold medal for the club. In the men’s U20 long jump, Sam Khogali also brought home the top prize with a jump of 6.73m, to round off a very credible display for the club.
Elsewhere that weekend, the Northampton half marathon took place with 10 R&N athletes competing over the 13.1-mile course, and Stephen Marks led the club home with a fine third-place finish, completing the race in 1:16:15.
Held in conjunction with the event was the NAA County Championships, and leading the club to victory in the men’s race was Daniel Mould in ninth place overall (1:20:29), followed by Brendan Moen, who also clinched a silver medal in the M40 race when he recorded 1:21:44 to finish 11th. Closing off the victorious team was veteran Dave Rayfield, whose time of 1:24:11 was enough for 21st place.
Dean Oldfield also ran well for R&N to finish in 1:22:25, crossing the line in 13th but, like Marks, his Warwickshire status made him ineligible for the NAA event.
Winning the County bronze medal in the M50 competition was Alan Mould with 1:28:54, which gave him 38th overall, while the remaining four athletes taking part for the club were Steve Dixon (57th – 1:31:20), Alex McMurtrie (83rd in 1:37:05), Bernie Myers (94th in 1:38:54) and Neil Martin (190th in 1:50:06).