ATHLETICS – Stratford youngsters impress at Midland Counties Championships

STRATFORD-upon-Avon Athletic Club won a host of medals at the Midland Counties Under-15 and Under-17 Championships held at Pingles Stadium in Nuneaton.

The Championships provide top-level competition just below national level and, despite the scorching heat, the youngsters at Stratford AC came home with a varied selection of medals that underscored the quality of the club’s junior ranks.

And under-13 duo Scarlett Dawson and Elfirc McKenzie competed in the under-13 quadrathlon (100m, 600m for Elfric and 800m for Scarlett, Howler and Long Jump).

They both competed consistently throughout their respective competitions, both finishing all four events in gold medal position.

There was also success for Joel Masters, who broke into the top ranks of Britain’s Under-15 sprinters this season, as he continued his superb form with a fine win in his 100m heat.

And in a high-quality field for the final, which would rival a national championship, he quickly took the lead and held it to the line to win gold and equaled his personal best (PB) of 11 .41 seconds.

The same scenario caught on in the 200m as, despite a nagging knee problem, Joel continued his hot streak by winning double gold in the 200m final in a new personal best 23.1 seconds.

Stratford Under-15 athlete Seb Hillard got his first taste of competition at this level and found himself a double bronze medalist.

In the long jump he finished with a best jump of 5.16m, a new PB, and in the 80m hurdles he ran a PB of 12.79 seconds.

After a schedule disruption, Nikola Wodzisz was disappointed to miss the javelin, where she was favorite for the title, but made up for it by throwing new PBs in the shot put (10.50m) to clinch gold and to disk. (19.15m) to win silver.

And Under-15 athlete Tom Stanton enjoyed his weekend jumping a new PB of 4.70m in the long jump before running a PB of 13.73 seconds in the 100m and 28.41 seconds at 200m.

After racing in the Midland League the day before, Maddie Linfoot competed in the 1500m finishing fifth in a record time of 5 minutes 03.47 seconds.

Club coaches could not recall a competition being held in such oppressive heat and despite the small amount of their athletes competing, the quality was exceptional with medals and especially the abundance of PBs.

And the club also hosted the ‘Summer Six’ event on their home turf with valuable points up for grabs in the club’s Grand Prix competition and their reputation on the line in the Warwickshire Road Race League.

The event also marked one of the club’s major annual fundraisers.

A gentle, rolling course around the Wilmcote countryside, the six-mile run has a notable descent at the one-mile mark, however, is more noticeable on the return trip as a tough climb at mile five.

The winners of the race, in which 192 runners took part, were David Brewis of Sphinx AC with a time of 32 minutes 35 seconds and the first lady was Natalie Bhangal of Leamington C&AC in 38 minutes 15 seconds.

Matt Burdus-Cook led the way for the home team, winning the silver medal with 33 minutes 01 seconds on the clock.

Burdus-Cook was pleasantly surprised by the quick first half but opted for a comfortably positioned second place.

Next for the club was Jamie Hall in 34 minutes 25 seconds taking sixth place, followed by Under-20 runner Alex Pester in 11th place with 35 minutes 42 seconds and second in the Under-20s.

Seth Turner was next to finish in 17th place, crossing the line in 37 minutes 51 seconds, subtracting nearly two minutes from his previous effort in 2019.

Also keen on a course PB and next across the finish line was Max Ross, slashing his 2019 time by three and a half minutes to 21st in 38 minutes 26 seconds.

Closely following, after taking a few months out of racing, came Andrew Cox, 25th in 39 minutes 06 seconds, then James Coy with a time under 40 in 31st place with 39 minutes 50 seconds.

Elsewhere, Rob Gisbourne was 33rd and buzzing with his first effort on the course, finishing in 40 minutes 29 seconds.

Next to the finish was Ade Mason, heading home in 41 minutes 28 seconds with Brian Boyle 92nd in 47 minutes 21 seconds and was chased by Susan Hunt in 99th place and first lady of Stratford with a time of 48 minutes 03 seconds while David Maundrell was 128th in 52 min 13 sec.

Having been forced to take a rest en route, Pip Bell came 144th in 54:59 while Lisa Stevens followed in 55:43 for 149th.

Emma Lee came in at 59:27 for 164th place with Karen Gisbourne who finished 165th in 59:28 while Katheryn Woodcock finished a time below the hour of 59:49 in 167th.

Long-time club member Allan Coldicott finished in 177th place in 1:04.06, followed by John Butler in 1:08:45 while Rosie Slocombe, the club’s most improved athlete of the year, finished crossed the finish line in a time of 1:11.26 in 180th place despite a heavily bandaged finger following a fall on the track the previous week which resulted in a five-hour visit to A and E.

Sarah Bland, from Stratford, said: “It was a great evening, a big thank you to everyone for their involvement – ​​at the end there were lots of members running and lots of rallying.

“Sally Bliss and Beverly Brigden worked very hard to organize the marshals, it’s a big job, so thanks to both of them.”

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