Club Starts British League Season with a Win at Cardiff

As soon as Bristol & West Athletic Club won promotion to British Athletics League (BAL) Division 3 Team Manager Cy Knibb was plotting promotion to Division Two. A winter’s work and a couple of weeks agonising on the vagaries of certain team members, plus the usual crop of illness and injuries kept him on his toes and even during the match at Cardiff on Saturday 11th May 2013 a couple of late substitutions were required. The BAL match report has some interesting stats and with 29 athletes we were the best supported club. We fielded 2 higher competition athletes and with no under-17s and only 3 under-20s we were one of the oldest teams.

James DIAMOND and James TAYLOR were first to get points on the board as they finished seventh and sixth in the Long Jump with jumps of 6 metres and 6 centimetres and 5 metres 37 centimetres.

First up on the track were the non-scoring 100 metre races: Leon Reid took the first one in 11.22 into a headwind, the second race saw a Bristol 1, 2, 3 as Elliott PRENDERGAST (11.61), Romain HYMAN (11.78) and Alex FIELDS (11.88) headed the field.

The 400 metres hurdles produced good points as Will HARTLEY finished second in the ‘A’ race in 55.71 and John BRIERLEY finished fourth in the ‘B’ race in 57.54. Next up was the 800 metres where a PB from Dan STUDLEY posted the first of our many track wins of the day as a PB of 1:54.96 took him sub-1:55 for the first time. In the ‘B’ race Matt HARRIS was a close second in 1:58.49 to go sub-2 minutes for the first time. Scott BAJERE and Leon REID looked impressive winning the ‘A’ and ‘B’ 100 metres respectively in 10.79 and 10.93 (Scott’s was a Grade 1 performance).

The steeplechase had been a pre-season problem but the addition of Matt BRADLEY on a higher claim plus the acquisition of Adam KULA-PRZEZWANSKI from neighbours Westbury Harriers eased the problem. Matt made the long journey from Plymouth and worked hard throughout to finish fourth in 10:12.36 and will hopefully go sub-10 minutes next time out. Adam stepped in very late on following the withdrawal of Charlie MacLean with an illness. Like Matt, Andy battled all the way and finished third in 10:39.62 in his first competitive steeplechase, taking the Swansea ‘B’ string and gaining that extra point on the last lap.

Will HARTLEY and John BRIERLY kept the points score ticking over in the sprint hurdles which is not their specialist event as they finished third and fifth respectively in 16.12 and 19.10. The 400 metres saw Caspar ELLIOTT finish third in the ‘A’ string in 50.18, whilst a good lean from Alex FIELDS in the ‘B’ string saw him also finish third, with the same time as the fourth placer.

The 1,500 metres has been a strong event for the club in recent seasons and so it proved at Cardiff, Steve MITCHELL was looking for race practice ahead of next week’s BMC Grand Prix at Solihull and after opening laps of 68 and 66 wound up a 59 400 followed by a 43 last 300 to take the ‘A’ race clearly. As and Bs were racing together and Dan STUDLEY having achieved his day’s goal of a win in the 800 metres was happy to do just enough to take the ‘B’ race and take maximum points for the club.

Next up were the 200 metres and again the club had a strong line-up. Omar SIMPSON won the ‘A’ race looking very strong in 22.37 and young Chris STONE showed senior events hold no fear for him as the under-20 took the ‘B’ string in 22.50 watched by coach Alastair Abrams.

The non-arrival of Tom Merson saw Steve MITCHELL drafted in to the Men’s 5,000 metres at the very last minute to accompany fellow Bristol University graduate Oli MOTT. Both athletes were soon involved in the lead group and much to the appreciation of his coach Steve was looking pretty comfortable. Welsh internationals Mark Hobbs and Dewi Griffiths were probably Swansea’s strongest pairing of the day but when Steve threw in a 62 twelfth lap and a last 200 in 30 seconds Mark Hobbs had to give ground as behind him Oli got the better of Dewi for another maximum points tally for the club.

While all this was going on trackside in the field points were harder to come by but there were certainly some significant highs for the club. Early on Matt SPICER and Jack CULLINAN scored good points in the Hammer with throws of 49 metres 35 centimetres and 39 metres 82 centimetres taking fourth in the ‘A’ string for Matt and second in the ‘B’ string for Jack.

The Pole Vault has been a source of good points in recent years and so it proved again. Connell McQuisten entered the competition at 4 metres 40 centimetres (much to Cy’s consternation) but cleared the height to win the ‘A’ string. Luke BAILEY’S clearance at 4 metres although a personal disappointment secured the ‘B’ string win for the only maximum point score in the field. The conditions were difficult for everyone with a cold wind blowing and gusting strongly so a particular well done to our two vaulters.

Another to be disappointed with his performance was Adam WALL who took second in the ‘A’ High Jump with a clearance at 1 metre 95 centimetres, which was won in 2 metres which Adam is well capable of – I still say it was a very good jump in the conditions. Luke BAILEY commuted between the two events to take 5= in the ‘B’ string with a clearance at 1 metre 60 centimetres.

James TAYLOR had a busy afternoon and took seventh place   in the ‘A’ Discus with a throw of 30 metres 86 centimetres; he was supported by Rhys LLEWELLYN-EATON (who also had a busy afternoon) who threw 28 metres 46 centimetres for fifth place in the ‘B’ string.

Will HARTLEY added to his personal points tally finishing third in the ‘A’ triple jump with a furthest jump of 13 metres and 2 centimetres. Paul Weston gave up coaching for the afternoon to put his competitor’s kit on again and was rewarded with fourth place in the ‘B’ string with a jump of 11 metres 89 centimetres.

Rhys LLEWELLYN-EATON was our ‘A’ string javelin thrower and finished seventh in the ‘A’ string with 44 metres 93 centimetres. Jacob FILER threw 40 metres 45 centimetres to take fifth place in the ‘B’ string competition. The final field event was the Shot Putt where James TAYLOR was eighth in the ‘A’ string with a throw of 9 metres and 9 centimetres and Rhys LLEWELLYN-EATON took seventh in the ‘B’ string with a throw of 8 metres and 77 centimetres.

By the relays the club was well in the lead of the overall competition and with good results in the sprints earlier the two relays looked like a source of a significant points hall – but getting that baton round isn’t always that easy (particularly on a day when runners would have had cold hands). However, there was no need for concern as the 4 x 100 metre team finished third in a close finish with Victoria Park and Kingston & Polytechnic Harriers. The 4 x 400 metre team took an early lead that they never looked like relinquishing as they wound up a great day for the club with another maximum point haul. Special mention here to Chris STONE on running both relays as well as the 200 metres.

Cy now goes away to plot the team for the next match at Abingdon on Saturday 8th June 2013 saying we can field a stronger team than Saturday’s – athletes please make his job as easy as possible by being pro-active, contact him and let him know your availability and your preferred event. We have three matches to go to secure Division 2 status for 2014 – yesterday has shown it is within our capabilities if we get our strongest teams out. After 8th June, Saturday 6th July 2013 is the third match at Windsor and we conclude the 2013 BAL season with a home match at Kip Keino Athletic Stadium on Saturday 3rd August 2013 – get those dates in your diary.

A mention of Chris and Jo Elson, Pete Mountain and Roger Brocklesby who travelled to Cardiff to support the team – other club supporters are always welcome and there is usually space on the team transport!

Full match results are available at:

http://www.bal.org.uk/bal/portal/main/Results/14%20League%202013/National%203/Page_1/Match%201%20-%20Cardiff.pdf

Photographs of the meeting – courtesy of Ben Hale – can be found at: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10152833751425094.1073741825.694890093&type=1&l=2d751c78bb