Team manager Chris Elson looks back at the UKWAL season…
It must be true, it’s in Athletics Weekly. At the beginning of the season I’d had my slide rule out and was optimistic that the team was in with a shout for promotion back to division 1. This expectation was born out by events, but who could have predicted the nail biting nature of the fixtures? The first fixture in Chelmsford turned out to be typical. 4 event points separated the first 3 teams with B&W AC sharing the pole position with Victoria Park Glasgow. The next fixture in Sheffield was equally hair raising (difficult for some), with the home team pipping B&W AC by all of one event point, although Glasgow lost a little ground 9 event points shy. That left the last match, which Glasgow must have fancied winning on home turf.
In the first fixture, the B&W AC was off to a good start with Christina Jones & Lauren Aldridge in the hammer, while Andrea Jesudason and Tia Jackson took maximum points in the long jump. The standard in the 400mH is disconcertingly high, but Grace Cottrell & Sam Barrett fought hard to pick up points. We’ve usually done well in the middle distances and this match proved no exception with Kate Maltby winning both the 3000m & 1500m, ably supported by Issy Talbot-Price & Catie O’Donoghue both 2nd B, Hannah Pollak & Elaina Gard both 2nd in the 800m A & B races respectively, and Emma Clarke 3rd in the chase. The shortsprints were more difficult with our fastest sprinters unavailable for valid reasons, so Melissa Cooke, Ella Falk & Jess Frazer shared the burden of collecting points. Again the standard in the 400m is high, but Natalie Jones & Elisa Kelsey Richards did well to finish 4th (A) & 2nd(B) respectively. That left the100mH where ever reliable Hannah Jackson was 4th (A) & Hattie Dent 4th (B). Back to the field, Esther Leong was 2nd in the pole vault, Andrea Jesudason, hampered by a hamstring injury that put her out for the rest of the season, 3rd in the Triple Jump while Sam Barrett took first B spot. The club currently has no specialist high jump, so it’s been a matter of appealing to the better nature of multi-eventers. Grace Cottrell sailed into 2nd place in the A string event & Hannah Jackson 5th in the B. Anyha Kerr has held the javelin together for us all season, and Christina the shot & discus aided by Sasha Spottiswoode & Grace Cottrell at Chelmsford.
Next up was another early start to Sheffield & again it was a good start with Cathrine Beatty & Christina collecting 16 points between them & Sam Barrett & veterinary student Sam Raettig who was parachuted in at the last minute coming 2nd (A) & 3rd (B) respectively in the long jump. We had out top pole vaulters, namely Esther Leong & Sylvia Amabilino, out in force, who duly took maximum points. Hannah Jackson was doing overtime this fixture scrounging points in the high jump straight after third place in the 400mH (B), where Hattie was 4th (A). The discus squad was reinforced by Alice Grosjean (2nd) with Christina 4th in the B event and ditto the shot with Christina 4th A and Alice 6th B, while Anyha Kerr 6th (A) & Maria Townsend 5th (B) took the honours in the javelin. In the triple jump Sam Barrett was 2nd (A) and Emma Clarke took time out from jumping over sticks to come 7th (B). On the track, we launched our H/C superstar Jenna Blundell in the 100mH with a 13.74 clocking. Jenna took the English title a fortnight later! Hannah Jackson too had a good one clocking 15.62. In the short sprints Melissa Cooke was doing overtime (again?) with the 100m (A), 200m (B) with both the sprint & 4 X 400m relay to come. Many thanks Melissa! Jenna meanwhile took 3rd (A) in the 200m. The middle distances saw Kate Maltby again doing a winning double in the 1500m & 3000m with, Lucy Wallace & Becky Pierce 2nd in the 1500m (B) and 1st in the 3K (B) respectively. Becky, making her first appearance for B&W AC, was also 6th in the 800m (A) and Lucy second in the B race. Becky completed her afternoon with 2nd in the 2000msteeplechase, while Emma Clarke was first in the B race. That leaves the 400m with Elisa 5th in the A race and Natalie 3rd in the B race.
So it was off to Glasgow! Would the plane flights get cancelled? Would the coach get there in time and with everyone fit to compete? How were we going to get people there for the first event of the revised timetable put out with 1 week to go with a 9.45am start? Roger to the rescue (again). He & Darren Boulten drove a 9 seater people carrier to Glasgow. I’d like to put in a plug here for Roger. Many people don’t realise how much he does. I do and it’s an awful lot!
Well there were a few hiccups on the way up, with the coach not getting to Carlisle Travel Lodge until 11.45, but we did make it and it was a great relief to arrive at Scotstoun to find everyone there. This included all those who missed the Sheffield match due to the proximity of their number 1 priority of the season, the English Schools. On board were Tia Jackson, Emma Bakare, Jess Frazer & Naimh Boulton plus Jenna all providing grounds for hope of a good outcome. The team couldn’t have got off to a better start. Our officials scored the maximum 20 points and I was just in time to see Tia jump out of the pit with a winning 5.73 metres not far short of her PB. After a first no jump, Bethan (after a technical review with Simon Hannam) jumped 5.24m giving the team maximum points. I scuttled round to the hammer to see both Christina & Cathrine start their competition and trying to watch 3 events at once just saw their winning throws, Christina first (A), Catherine first (B). The track events started with the 400mH, Hattie 4th (A), Hannah first (B), but Glasgow got a first & second. The 800m saw Natalie Griffiths make her first appearance of the season with 3rd (A) and Becky back in action with first (B). The high jump was next and here again it was multi-eventers to the rescue. Jenna was 3rd (A) with 1.55m and Emma 3rd (B) with 1.50. Next up was the 100m, Tia 3rd (A), Melissa 5th (B) but things were getting tighter, Glasgow had a first & second. The discus saw Christina throw a seasons best of 31.4m for 6th (A) and young Niamh Boulten make her Senior debut with 25.85m and 4th (B). The triple jump saw Emma Bakare again in action & looking very powerful with 11.15m, 4th (A) in a high calibre competition and Anyha Kerr posting 8.97m with one jump for 3rd (B) before the javelin started. Anyha came 5th (A) in the javelin, while Tia nobly threw 24.89m for 3rd (B). Both Sheffield & Glasgow had strong middle distance squads so could we hold on. Natalie doing the double was 2nd (A) and Catie O’Donoghue 2nd (B) so that looked OK. I had high hopes that Jenna would nail it in the 100mH but it was run, like the other sprints, into a stiff breeze funnelled by the stand. Jenna did nail it, first (A) and Hannah added to the glee with first B. Meanwhile the pole vault was underway & here Esther Leong came out first with 3.70m. Back on the track it was the 400m where Glasgow handy a very handy pair taking a first & second. Elisa Kelsey Richards was 5th (A) & Natalie Jones 2nd (B). We were holding on to the lead, just! Next the 1500m and here to we had a new star making her first appearance for the club. Zoe Wassell ran an excellent tactical race to take 2nd (A) with a nippy 2.29.43m while Lucy Wallace took a break from her sailing holiday in Inverness to take 2nd B in a time just shy of her PB. The 200m saw Jenna back in action with 3rd (A) & Jess Fraser 5th (B). The sprint relay saw Hannah, Melissa, Bethan & Tia post the teams fastest time of the season in 3rd place with Glasgow 1st. Then came the announcement, B&W AC are 9 points in front with 2 to events to go. Becky took 3rd in the 2K chase with a PB by 8 secs, with Glasgow in 2nd. Emma was 6th. That left the 400m relay. The squad was Natalie Jones, Melissa, Jess & Amalia Westerlund. Was Amalia fit after being concussed playing rugby 4 weeks earlier? The squad posted a time 10secs faster than in the previous matches finishing 3rd behind Glasgow & Sheffield. B&W AC had won and were promoted back to Division 1.
Thank you everyone for your help. Firstly our officials, Mike & Carol Strange, Peter Jackson & Alan Dent who scored maximum points at all three events. Next all our coaches, DebunAdemuyewo, Keith Brackstone, Murray Grant, Paul Filer, Nick Harris, Eugene Hechavarria, Ken Holmes, Jon Jackson, Tristan Jamieson, Matt Muggridge, Mike Strange and Paul Weston. Finally to the group of wonderful supremely athletic, competitive women who make up the team, bringing credit to themselves and the club. It’s been a joy to be team manager.
So on to next year. Well the travelling should be easier with 3 London Clubs, Nottingham, Southampton, Swansea & Victoria Park Glasgow. We’ll be putting in for a long overdue home match so all being well, no trip to Glasgow. I hope you will all be up for it. Perhaps sign up for it now?