Written by DB
The BAL Team held their nerve to win the final match of the season at Ashford and are promoted to Nat Two for 2009.
The 3 clubs vying for promotion in company with Leeds,who were already certain,went into an early lead;K&P,Crawley & Southampton generally led throughout,and when home club,Medway & Maidstone made a late run and pushed our opponents out of 2nd place,we were home and dry - though not without alarms.
This was the club's first win in the 24 matches since our return to the BAL in 2003 and was at an opportune moment. The last win at this level,in our previous life as a BAL club - as Polytechnic Harriers,was in 1982 at Costello Stadium,Hull - both the TM and Ant Budarkiewicz were present at both fixtures!! "Ultimate Accolade" was a hug from Leeds' doyen,John Lunn,whose club has also just returned to the BAL after 12 years out,and who actually was the promoter of that match in Hull 26 years ago.
Full results at - www.bal.org.uk - but,in brief,we won the match with 324 pts from Medway 306 & Southampton 305 whilst we caught Leeds at the top of the Divisional Table with 26 League Points,but were 2nd on match points.
Over 100/200,Justin Green(11.20/22.35) grabbed two 2nd places and has been a notable boost to our cause this season,though he may be finding eternal 2nd places - twice so finishing in our Rosenheim triumph the Wednesday previous - a trifle tedious!; Chris Hall took the B200 for a first track win in the BAL,and with the 4 x 100 quartet(Justin,Chris,James Heptonstall,Matt Field)also claiming 2nd(43.59) we were very well served in this department.
At 400/800,the return of Jamie McCullagh(3B 400 50.43sb/3A 800 1.54.52sb) was a boost;Adam Bellis took the brunt of the A400(4 athletes under 48.3!) and ran his 2nd fastest of the summer(50.79);sadly,despite a season's best of 3.21.9 in the 4x400(Jamie McC 51.3/Justin G 50.3/Jason Bernard 51.1/Adam B 49.2),a technical infringement saw us dq'd.
The 1500/5000/3000Steeple has been bereft of major points this summer,save for HCA Will Clark who also returned to boost the 5k - otherwise,much of the spirit of the team this year has emanated from members willing to double up/run to support and,at this match,it was Mike Maranzano(doubling at 5k/3kSt) and Matt Hyett and newcomer Chris Morris who epitomised the willing support factor.As always,Mike & Andy Arbour(25th consecutive match)raced the barriers.
Matt Field & Maris Kuklis have established themselves as our major hurdles players and duly obliged with 2A & 4B over the highs,whilst Maris was similarly placed over one lap. Revelation of the day was U17 sprint hurdler,Tom Parry,who was handed his BAL debut in the B 400H and proved he has a cool head and excellent technique by running away with his race in 58.28,some 4 secs up on his only other race at senior level.
This year,injuries have somewhat dented our recent dominance in the throws but the horizontal jumps have continued to take up the cudgel. Here James Heptonstall,who would opt to compete at Ashford every time out,again excelled with 2nds in the A LJ/TJ(6.99/13.75pb-albeit windy) and Track Team Captain,Humphrey Waddington,favouring a foot injury,leapt into 2nd in the LJ(6.52) and took the B TJ(13.64) before very sadly aggravating the problem rather badly. In the Vault,multi-eventer Bilen Ahmet cleared 3.40(5A),his best of the campaign,whilst evergreen M60 Maurice Joyce answered the call to make 2.60(4B),and in the High Jump both Matt Field & Maris Kuklis were over 1.80 to collect useful points.
In the throws,Team Field Captain,Gareth Cook,continued to confound,finding 54.61,a season's best for 2A in the hammer,with Rob Smith on form,taking 2nd in the B event at 38.74. Gareth moved to the discus with Kyle Stevens where both distinguished themselves from the team viewpoint by taking 3A & 2B,though at cost as both incurred damage - Gareth had to come out of the shot,but Chris Dack ably deputised and,with Kyle in command of the A,though much handicapped in the turn,ensured we only dropped 2 pts from maximum.Chris,meanwhile,who was also carrying injuries,got 3rd in the javelin,where the value of our veterans was again eminently highlighted as M60 Les Hatton threw close to 40m to gain 4th in the B.
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