Written by PW
PW's Report on our Home BAL promotion
Full Results of all BAL Divisions - www.bal.org.uk
British Athletics League Division 3, Match 3
Kingsmeadow, August 13th 2011
Despite an uplifting Rosenheim Final victory in midweek, the omens weren’t promising for K&P’s Men going into this match. Injuries, illness, individual seasons being ended early, and drop-offs in form over a long hard season, all combined to suggest our home match would be a struggle. It certainly was, but a dogged team effort (spearheaded by a remarkable performance of fight and quality from our middle distance runners), saw us through into 2nd place and within touching distance of promotion to Division 2.
There was a slightly unreal feeling surrounding this fixture. Sadly, the once powerful Leeds City team could only field three athletes and Cambridge Harriers also appeared weakened in numbers and quality. Furthermore, changes to flight times - due to riot fears, dictated that the track timetable was brought forward and Glasgow City still had to rush off, Cinderella-like, before the Javelin was even finished.
Luckily the heavy rain that fell overnight had cleared by the start of the match, bringing both the sun and the customary headwind on the finishing straight. Despite the bright conditions, we couldn’t quite match our recent bright starts. The loss of David Cook and Humphrey Waddington severely weakened the Long Jump; Chris Hall (A) and Ben White (B) filled in manfully, but could only manage two 6th places in the face of some very strong opposition. The Hammer also proved very high quality. Co-Captain, Gareth Cook, produced his best throw in the BAL this season (50.49m), but was still only rewarded with 5th place (A). Andy Wheble also threw well to claim 2nd (B) with 39.28m.
On the track, the 400 Hurdles was once again very tough and competitive. Danny Eckersley (A) hasn’t quite managed to hit his best form in the BAL this year, but ran his usual gutsy race to come 5th (56.06), with Adam Bellis, making a good fist of his unaccustomed outing over barriers and finishing in the same position in the B race. In the Pole Vault, both Gordon Lester (4.20m) and Bilen Ahmet (3.60m) struggled in the crosswind, but managed two 2nd places to boost the points total. Bilen’s earlier-than-expected PV exit, did enable him to shift focus onto High Jump, where he cleared 1.75m (3rd – B) and Maris Kuklis continued his consistent form, going over 1.80m (3rd – A), earning valuable points.
At this stage, things did not look good for K&P. Despite our best efforts, we found ourselves down in 5th place. More alarmingly, Channel Islands and Swansea – the two teams just below us in the league – were up at the top of the table and threatening to close the gap for the promotion places. Swansea continued their drive with a double win in the 800m, where Luke Caldwell (1.55.23) started the middle distance fight-back, finishing 3rd (A), ably supported by Craig Price (1.56.04), rapidly approaching his best form, for 2nd (B).
In the field the Discus showed a further upturn in our fortunes, with Andy Wheble gustily coming through a wobble in the first two rounds to take 2nd (A – 41.25m), and the ever-reliable Nick Owen winning the B (38.56m). On the track the 100m proved trickier, with Justin Green (4th – A) and Victor Nwagbara (2nd – B) fighting their way to the line, rather than looking at their fluent best. The 3K Steeplechase was also a struggle. Tom Beedell has temporarily lost his imperious form of early season, but dug in for 4th (A) in 9.44.1 and poor James Robertson, had a tough return from injury as he was disqualified for an unintentional infringement at the water-jump.
Triple Jump was also a touch disappointing. Both Ben White and Chris Hall looked strong and capable of 13m performances, but couldn’t quite deliver on their promise. Ben (5th – A) hit 12.86m and Chris (3rd – B) managed 12.57m. Matt Field kept us in the hunt with his customary 110 Hurdles win (A – 14.89) and William Trimble (U20), made an excellent debut – not in his favoured Javelin – but in the B, 110H, proving himself to be a useful hurdler with a lot of potential (3rd – 17.27 pb).
In the 400m, Ciaran Mackey came 4th (A), despite struggling with a chest virus that will rule him out of our last match. He’s been a great acquisition for the club and we wish him a speedy recovery. Adam Omisore also ran well to win the B race (50.24) and looks like finding his way back to a sub-50 clocking if he gets the nod for the A-slot at Swansea. The 200m was a slightly less happy hunting ground, with Justin Green (5th – A) and a tired Chris Hall (4th – B) well below their best and struggling to impose themselves.
On the track, it was now the turn of the middle distance boys who really dug in and produced some strong performances. In the 1500m, Luke Caldwell improved on his earlier 800m effort with a great tactical win (3.57.70) and George Corcoran (U20) took 2nd in the B with a fine pb (4.04.56). The 3K proved to be the K&P performance of the match, with Chris Bannon and impressive BAL debutant, Gordon Pearce, taking on Glasgow’s Eritrean, Tewoldeberhan Mengisteab, who had won with unruffled ease in both previous matches. Our guys certainly made sure that he knew he was in a race and destroyed the rest of the field in the process. Chris Bannon led the way, pushing as hard as he could, which was especially remarkable as he has also been struggling, after his finals at university, for both health and form. In the end, when the Eritean accelerated, he didn’t have quite enough left to respond, but Gordon was able to kick and pushed Mengisteab all the way to the line. Gordon finished 2nd – A (8.40.98) and Chris won the B (8.45.10). It would be lovely to see them renew the battle over 5K at Swansea!
The relays continued the K&P counter-attack. In the 4x100m, Jordan Smith-Bent, Chris Hall, Victor Nwagbara and Justin Green looked a lot sharper and more assured on the changeovers, taking 2nd (43.02) and a scratch 4x400m team of Victor Nwagbara, Danny Eckersley, Adam Bellis and Adam Omisore finished in a solid 3rd (3.23.03).
Meantime, in the field, two of our strongest events remained. In the Shot, we took two 2nd places, with stalwart Nick Owen’s 14.29m (A) and Gareth Cook’s 12.23m (B), which broke his own M40 record. Finally came our “banker” event – the Javelin – where Felix Hatton and Chris Dack remained unbeaten in the A & B strings respectively. Felix couldn’t quite recapture the highs of Yeovil, but his 68.96m was once again a very high quality mark and Chris’s 51.45m continued his own renaissance as a thrower. They are the quiet men of JT, certainly compared to the bellowing extrovert, Craig Lacy of Cambridge Harriers, who prepares to throw sounding as though he is on the receiving end of some appalling form of medieval torture… there are some of us who might just wish that he actually was… That being said, it seems to work for him, so perhaps a spot of psyche-up yodelling from Felix might allow 80m to hove into view?
In the end, Glasgow won (379) and we finished 2nd (367) ahead of Channel Islands (320) and Swansea (286), adding another league point to our cushion over Channel Islands and 2 points over Swansea. Congratulations must go to TM, David Barrington, for marshalling his resources so well and thanks also to all the officials who work so hard on the day and all the many K&P supporters who roared the team on.
It is important now to finish off the job at Swansea. A touch of complacency cost us dearly last year, so we need a full team and a motivated team to deliver the promotion our efforts deserve. Let’s all go to Wales and give ourselves something to celebrate!
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