BAL National Two M1
Cardiff 7 May 2016
Carpe Diem – Seize the Day
The impressive Cardiff International Stadium was the venue for New Team Manager,Chris Hall,in conjunction with his father,Mark,to take front stage,and a mostly warm and sunny day,with a brief rainy interlude,saw the mantle pass seamlessly from our previous successful management team of Humphrey and Peter Waddington. Dynastic!
Grabbing the first match by the scruff of the neck is the maxim and,whilst the 2 Welsh teams made the most of home advantage,Chris’s squad took considerable strides towards,at the very least,maintaining the Nat Two status which their immediate predecessors have cemented successfully through the last 2 summer’s campaigns. Yet again,the team ethos and commitment to K&P’s BAL journeys remain truly exceptional.A very fine 3rd place with 6 league points firmly puts the pressure on four of the 8 clubs for the rest of the campaign.
The team was off to its customary fast start,with the early field events taking the team into 2nd as those events were reflected in the running score. Sadly,score updates were infrequent and the ‘calculators’ of the supporting management were optimistically at work throughout the afternoon. Memo to Meeting Manager at R3 at Kingston – extract digit!
Hammer kicked off with formidable duo,Team Captain Gareth Cook and Andy Wheble in tandem - the field was not vintage outside the top 6 of the 16 competitors but,whilst neither was in top form,their 3A Gareth 47.70 and 2B Andy 39.61 points score was only surpassed by the Crawley pair. Over at the Long Jump,both Matthew Houlden and TM Chris were equally competitive,Matt taking 4A 6.84 and Chris opening his ‘reign’ and setting TM’s standard with the B win at 6.60. Good points. At the High Jump,we were bereft of our leading contenders,but,as ever,Humphrey Waddington 6A 1.80 and Bilen Ahmet 6B 1.70,took whatever points they could in a field where there were 6 over 1.90 with the winner at 2m13.
Early season it may be but the first 4 track events were a firm indication that winter training had gone well at K&P. At 400 Hurdles,Tom Parry began his season looking for a PB and duly obliged with a 3rd place in a fine 53.37,taking almost 3/10th off his best in a race dominated by Olympians Jack Green(Kent) and Rhys Williams(Cardiff). Chris Hall was in action again in the B and was a solid 4th in 60.15. Next up was the 800,where Scott Evans’ first winter over the country,thanks to his hockey abilities,for some years,which included high placings in the Southern and National CC Champs, proved significant and his aggressive running in a fast race gave him 3rd in 1.51.89,just behind international,Gareth Warburton,an improvement of almost 3 seconds ,and all the sweeter since he slipped past his father’s PB of 1.52.3! Jonathan Darby,in the midst of finalising his Master’s Degree,hung on for a tidy 5th in the B(1.59.27).
The 100s welcomed new HCA,Mutara Sheriff(SMR) – a Chris Hall coup! - already with BAL experience in the last 2 years elsewhere, and also we were delighted to have Jordan Smith-Bent back after a long break. In pretty good sprinting conditions,with some wind behind,both made significant progress – Mutara took 4th in the A in 10.68(+2.7) and Jordan’s comeback saw him home in an identical placing in the B with 10.86(wind legal).There had been times over the last 2 summers when Jordan was beginning to think sub 11.0 was a thing of the past. Not so,to much relief!
Several other team members have suffered serious setbacks over the years and to see these athletes back in such good competitive form is a great pleasure.
Danny Eckersley’s decision to concentrate on Steeplechase,after some dabbling,saw him run a superbly controlled race to work his way into 2nd place in the A,knocking over 30 seconds off his PB of 2015 to clock 9.27.62. With James Robertson favouring a slight injury for ‘chasing,TM Chris was very grateful that Bilen Ahmet was willing,as ever,to slot in for the points in the B,taking 6th,
Back in the field,the Triple was causing some heartache – Matt Houlden’s suspect heel sadly gave out after one trial,albeit enough for him to claim 2nd B(13.33) whilst Humphrey Waddington just made the last 8 with sub 13m – only again to find another gear,heavy cold and all,and leap out to a fine 14.18 to snatch 3A. Our Discus duo have been beset by winter setbacks but they were still able to score well,with Chris Dack 2A(44.47) and Andy Wheble 3B(38.16) – there’s more to come(another irritating phrase beloved of athletics commentators!!). Javelin caught some of the heavy shower mid afternoon but,nevertheless,late 2015 revelation William Trimble.was still disappointed with his 61.19 for 2A– not a bad sign,to be fair,as it gives more room for improvement. Andy Wheble completed his 3rd event,taking 5B(37.18) in not his favourite event.
Around late afternoon,a score update,almost as rare as hen’s teeth,still indicated we were well up in the top 4,with the others drifting back.
Later on the track,Chris Hall and Tom Parry went in the High Hurdles and ran handily and reliably for 4A(15.78) and 3B(16.09),whilst youngsters Max Perez-Diaz(now almost a permanent fixture in the team) and Harry Reynolds were the selections over 400 and,though,not again individually over-elated,they really did a very useful job,with Max 5A 51.05 and Harry 5B(53.01). At 1500,it was repeat time for Scott Evans and Jonathan Darby – tough 800s possibly took a toll but Scott ran 3.55.21(5A & another 3 second PB) and Jonathan placed 6B in 4.25.43. Mind you,they still deployed later to the 4 x 400 when Chris was ‘looking for volunteers’!!
The 200s were as pleasing as the 100s for Mutara and Jordan – fast races again,but both with fine,legal runs – 5A for Mutara(21.68 + 1.6 ,a big PB) and 4B for Jordan(22.22 +1.4 – best since 2013). The 3k had stretched Chris’s imagination even before the day,but Alex Thomas(7A 9.54.87) and James Robertson(5B 10.05.54) put themselves on the line on the day and we gratefully accepted their contributions to the points total.
The final field events - the Shot featured the indomitable Chris Dack and Nick Owen,two of the several proponents who have been the most formidable pairings in our BAL History since 2003,and earlier in SML. That they had both suffered illnesses since the turn of the year makes it even more gratifying that they were again with us – less dominant this time perhaps,but the other 7 teams had better watch out at Bedford on June 4th,and beyond – (CD 4A 13.73 & NO 2B 12.69). Team Captain,Gareth Cook’s influence and expertise was really at work amongst the throwers,who,just for a change,were marginally upstaged by some of the aforementioned track men,and the lift he can give them for the later fixtures will be like golddust.
Meanwhile,in the Vault,Thomas Snee made his second appearance for the BAL team and only an early failure appeared to lose him top spot on countback at an excellent 4.20(2A),which is just 2cms short of his best outdoor mark,with Gordon Lester taking a solid 5th in the B(3.40)
The 4 x 100 squad of Jordan,Chris,Humphrey and Mutara,not least because of the last changeover,were well in the mix and a 5th in 43.87 kept our score ticking,whilst the 4 x 400 quartet(Scott,Alex,Max & Jonathan),whilst tending to resemble conscripts,duly ran into 6th place,keeping 2 clubs in their slipstream.
In summary,any 3rd place in the opening fixture would be a highly satisfying outcome,the more so as it’s our longest outing of the BAL season. There’s a significant bonus in shunting 5 teams behind us at this early juncture – the K&P habit of travelling well(mostly) is one to cherish,not least because we have got off on the right foot,and new TMs must love that,as well as heaving a sigh of relief.
Another fine day out!
Many thanks to those who supported the Club in Welsh Wales,despite the abomination of having to pay to get in! Croeso I Gymru,my foot!– Brenda Ford(on the TJ stand),Vicky and David Parry,Gillian Hall,Geoff Owen,Claire and previous management incumbents,Peter W and David B. as well as Humphrey(competing,of course).
Very much appreciated – Chris and Mark.
Corrected Scores – 1 Cardiff 376===2 Swansea 332===3 K&P 298===4 Crawley 282===5 Kent 229===6 Bedford 228===7 Bristol 222===8 Notts 214.
Full Results – www.bal.org.uk