After a disappointing first match with a large number of athletes being unavailable for selection due to BUCS resulting in a poor seventh place, captain Alex DALEY rallied the troops heroically and was able to get together a very strong team, despite being unable to compete himself due to injury. Thus, despite the best efforts of a flat tire on the team bus on Saturday morning, the team arrived at Chelmsford ready to really kick-start their league season.
There were British Athletics League debuts for Ronan LLYR, Harry ALLEN, Dajon WRIGHT and Jack JOYNSON.
A lack of specialist hammer throwers or second long jumper (until Harry ALLEN volunteered to get one in) resulted in a slow start, but it was expected that things would really get moving once the track action began. And get moving they did.
A dominant 400 metre hurdles A race by Tim STEPHENS, a full 2 seconds clear of the nearest competition in 53.90 seconds, followed by a strong second place by B string hurdler and debutante Ronan LLYR, set the tone, and amazingly the fifth place A run and fourth place B run in the 800 metres by former captain Caspar ELIOT and Mark COTTAM immediately after were the lowest track results of the day, everyone else managing third place or better!
Harry ALLEN followed up his jumping exploits with a strong win in the A string 3,000 metre steeplechase, while there were B string wins for new hurdles sensation Dajon WRIGHT (in a big new PB), talented sprinter Mikkel BASSUE (also a PB) and steeplechaser Miles CHANDLER. Scott BAJERE was second in the A 100 metres (with an identical time to the winner) with Mikkel and Freddie OWSLEY managing third in the 200 metres and 400 metres respectively. In the distance, Will CHRISTOFI handled a tricky double with great maturity, picking off athletes late in both races to manage back to back third places in the 1,500 metres and 5,000 metres, backed up in the former by Kurt TAYLOR (PB) in second and by Steve MITCHELL in the latter, also in second.
The field was less fruitful, but we still managed good points, led by the multi-talented Gavin PHILLIPS who picked up 43.5 points in a combination of Shot, Discus, Javelin, High Jump, Pole Vault and 110 metre hurdles. He was ably backed up by Jack JOYNSON, a triple jump debutante in second place, Simon HAMMANN with second in the B triple jump after starting the day third in the A long jump, and Sam BOULTON, second in the B discus.
All this meant that coming into the relays the team had a healthy lead and could have chosen to relax. Instead, we were treated to a pair of thrilling victories, Scott Bajere taking the 4 x 100 metres relay team to victory (despite a stressful final changeover) by 0.04 before Ronan LLYR, in his third race of the day, ran a fantastic anchor leg of 49.7 to just about hold off a charging Trafford quartet by less than a tenth of a second.
In the end it was comfortable, 342.5 points to home club Chelmsford’s 299, and moved the team up from seventh in the league to joint second. However, every athlete is aware that the job is barely even half done in the push for promotion back to Division 2, and Alex is already ringing round the houses to put together the strongest possible team for the next match in Bedford at the beginning of July.