Written by Mark Hall
British Athletics League Division 2, Match 4
Lee Valley, 20th August 2017
The Kingston and Polytechnic BAL Bandwagon rolled onto Lee Valley where they faced a realistic opportunity to achieve a first ever promotion to Division 1 (since the merger in 1985), and a place in the top sixteen men’s athletic teams in Great Britain.
Team Manager Chris Hall skilfully selected a squad that covered all bases and would subsequently be tested in their ability to get a top four placing, but he was also confident that this was a team that was not just about individuals, and was robust in its selection.
The team responded with an excellent all-round performance to win the event by a fine margin of around 27 match points (final results yet to be published), securing the Division 2 title by a margin of 6 league points and a full 8 league points clear of third position.
On to the events, and the day kicked off with Humphrey Waddington coming back especially for the competition (and not fully fit) with a 6.63m (5A) and Alex Meaklim 6.55m (2B) in the Long Jump against a strong field. Both were very mindful of events to come though and did not take their full complement of jumps; a testament to learning how to manage these competitions.
The Hammer kicked off at the same time with Kyle Stevens and Chris Dack stepping into the fray with Gareth Cook out with a very rare injury. Our two competitors were worryingly seen ‘warming up’ on the track, but seemed baffled by the white lines so came back to the throwing area.
Kyle came up with an excellent 45.85 for a 2A and Chris with a 38.55 2B for valuable points.
The High Jump followed with a welcome return for Matt Broderick and Harry McCulloch, both earning very important points in an event which has so soften not delivered, with both reaching 1.75: Matt at 5A and Harry =2B (Joint with Crawley).
In the Pole Vault Will Gwynne and Bilen Ahmet rarely fail to deliver and true to form Will with 4.40 and a 2A and Bilen 1B at 3.80 swept aside most of the opposition to gain a multitude of points.
Chris Dack and Nick Owen then went into Discus mode, keenly watched by Gareth and the pairing delivered a 2A 45.32 (Chris) and 2B 39.02 (Nick), both only 22 and 27 cm off the pole positions in each string. The latter was especially remarkable, as Nick hasn’t throw competitively for some years.
The track then got underway with the pairing of Darren Meaklim and Humphrey Waddington stepping into the fray. Darren once again fought gamely in a very difficult race to secure 7A (62. 43) and a determined Humphrey worked through the pain to secure a 3B in 59.81 seconds, both securing vital points in a thankless and brutal event.
The 800 then saw the first problem of the day but showed how as a team we are able to cope with adversity. With Hugo Fleming stuck in traffic (also nursing a sore Achilles tendon), James Coxon stepped in to the B race with our own version of a Duracell Battery, Scott Evans moving up to the A string. Scott delivered a fantastic 2A in 1:55:09 and James Coxon secured an excellent 3B in 1:58:10.
The 100m is always a challenge in these matches, with extremely strong entries from all teams. Elijah Lyle-Vidal at 11.44 (8A) and Alex Williams Baffoe 11.58 (7B) delivered vital points with times that really deserved more.
Next up was a quickfire second event within 10 minutes for Alex Williams Baffoe, taking on the B Triple Jump duties alongside Alex Meaklim in the A. Alex effortlessly achieved a 13.58m (5A) mark to prove he will be a real force in next year’s competition while Alex was a little disappointed at missing the cut to expand on his 12.50m (3B) but we all know the potential is there and the points delivered were excellent.
The 3000m Steeplechase saw a big dilemma: should Danny Eckersley be the A or B runner?!? He scraped into the A position somehow, running 9:18:17 for an excellent win, and lapped all but three of his opposition. I know his opponents will be glad to wave him farewell after his excellent season. Partner in crime, Michael Huntley, has provided excellent backup in recent matches and has grown into an important supporting role delivering a 3A with a PB time of 10:27:95.
The 110H has seen a couple of athletes come of age this year with a resurgent Alex Parkinson coming back from an injury-hit few months, along with Darren Meaklim who is never fazed by challenges put in front of him.
Alex delivered an excellent 3A (15.83) and Darren a superb 2B (16.28) providing invaluable points for the cause in probably the most difficult of the sprint events.
Next up was a reshuffle with Hugo Fleming dropping down to the B 400m due to his Achilles problem, whilst our YTS recruit Will Stapleton popped his head above the parapet to take on the A duties.
Will delivered a 50.88 (7A) and Hugo a 51.65 (6B) to keep the score ticking over and subsequently providing a great platform for the last performance of the day.
The Field bandwagon continued to roll on with our Chris Dack and Nick Owen double act taking on their normal Shot Putt event. Needless to say our duo delivered with their benchmark efficiency, Chris taking (2A) with 14.02 and eclipsing Nick’s (1B) of 13.96 by all of a massive 6 cm. These two will be a major force in years to come as they have both assured me they are Under-20.
The Javelin was going on simultaneously, with the ever-consistent William Trimble delivering a 59.43 (2A) performance and Harry McCulloch producing an impressive back-up with 50.90 for a 2B. Both athletes have delivered when it mattered in this year’s competition and should be a major force in next year’s challenges.
Back at the track the 1500m saw the newly formed duo of Scott Evans and James Coxon challenging the field with Scott delivering a (3A) time of 3:58:32 and James a (2A) with a time of 4:06:64. These two will grow as a pairing and a fantastic resource to have for the middle distances, along with Hugo.
The 200m saw spirited performances by both Elijah Lyle Vidal and Alex Parkinson in the ever-competitive sprints. Elijah ran a 22.44 (5A) and Alex a 23.56 (6B) to bring yet more solid points back, whilst also learning a great deal in the races.
The last of the individual track events saw another YTS recruit Matt Atkins team up with our Chief Rowing Cox Alex Thomas. Both produced seasons bests with Matt getting a 5A time of 15:44:61 and Alex a 5B time of 16:49:71, closing a pleasing individual track day ahead of the relays.
The relays demonstrated how far we have come in the league by grit and determination, and the untested 4x100m quartet of Elijah Lyle Vidal, Alex Parkinson, Humphrey Waddington and Alex Meaklim nearly nicked an extra position finishing (5A) with a time of 44.14.
The icing on the cake was to come in the last event, the 4x400 race, where Alex Williams Baffoe, Scott Evans, Will Stapleton and Hugo Fleming delivered an excellent third place in 3:23:79, one of our best placings in the recent past and rounding off a fantastic team performance.
The news that Kingston & Poly had not only secured promotion, but had also won the match and the Division 2 title was very welcome and totally deserved, as we delivered both on the track and in the field.
The squad has grown through the years and Kingston & Poly can justly say they are a team, with the injured Gareth Cook and our mascot Max Perez Diaz in attendance to ensure they were part of the celebrations.
A big thank you must also go to a radiant BALMY army of Cooks, Barrington, Waddingtons, Owen and the newly acquired Meaklims, alongside the Broderick family on their annual outing and the supporting Coxon and Fleming families. We must also thank Brenda Ford for her Track Judging services through the season and her Track Refereeing on the day.
Chris Hall has worked hard to put the team together in a professional manner and over two years has developed the squad in an extremely positive way, with much thought given to the back up positions. This has paid off with two league wins and the loss of only 4 league points all season and provides an excellent platform for the coming seasons.
There were a few stalwarts missing from the squad yesterday and who will now be fighting for next seasons starting positions, a healthy position to be in with the new challenges just around the corner.
They say what goes on tour stays on tour, and the following secrets are safe with me, so I will not tell anyone about the following:
Elijah forgetting his spikes and having to borrow Will Stapleton’s size 14’s for his races.
Will Gwynne for missing the turn off on the M25 for Lee Valley, rumour has it that he had to go around again before he found the exit wondering why he had to keep paying a toll for the Dartford Crossing.
Max Perez Diaz sitting in his kit all match pleading ‘’Its only one hamstring torn, honest, I can do it”
Chris Dack bemused at small gap he had to get the hammer through, extending the competition by an hour and a half whilst they retrieved many of his implements from the top of the cage.
Matt Broderick and Hugo Fleming not realising you had to arrive at an event before it started
Well Done All. Kingston and Polytechnic Harriers have truly arrived in Division 1
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