NVH continue their strong Southern Athletics League season. Here's Ken Maggs' report.
The athletes and officials of Nene Valley Harriers did everything within their capability to maintain their challenge for the Sweatshop Southern Athletics League title on Saturday. The officials were the first to step up to the plate having to cover for field and track position which the other clubs had not covered after failing to bring their fair share of officials.
This meeting which included the top three teams in the league started off on the track with unbelievable results. NVH athletes only dropped only six points in the first four track races of the day, scoring 58 out of 64 points. Ben Jones, Sean Reidy, Rosie Jacobs and Devon Spencer winning their respective 400m hurdles races. Devon had opted to run the hurdles, instead of competing in the clashing long jump and proving much faster than she had expected herself. Ben's hurdles win changed hands in the last 100m after Ben had lead at the 300m stage, he hit a hurdle hard but then fought back to challenge for the lead before his opponent also hit a hurdle to the win comfortable. Sean Reidy produced a fine B string performance which led to him winning the man of the match award.
The ladies, Lily Hughes and Tash Segal proved unbeatable in the 100m both recording comfortable wins. Unfortunately only Tash was able to repeat this later in the day over the 200m. Despite her second place, Lily has now only dropped one point in the league in the three matches she has competed in over the 100m and 200m. Daz Holding then produced remarkable back to back wins winning the A string 100m and then next race the A string 400m. Ash Sandall, on his way back from injury won the B string. Another athlete returning from injury, Georgie Ivens went out strong in the ladies 400m before winning from team mate Megan Pusey, who has come through well in the event this season. Nene Valley ladies only dropped one point in the sprint events throughout the day including the relays.
Two club records fell during the afternoons events with Ellie Mae Stokes adding to her club under 20 javelin record recording a distance of 35.99m winning the A string event. The ladies 400m relay squad finished the day by not only winning the relay but smashing the club record with a time of 4:05.6. Rosie Jacobs set the team up running the lap elegantly before passing to Cassie Hilliam in second place. Cassie kept in touch with the Bassingstoke athlete again passing to Megan Pusey in second place. Megan tried to attack the leading athlete but a foot injury over the last 50m stopped the come back. Last leg Georgie Ivens ran the first 200m behind but then a sudden burst in the later stages of the back straight took her into the lead on the bend and she never looked back.
Simon Achurch also attained two club records for himself. Simon's second place in the discus was a club record 31.87m and his non-scoring hammer throw of 44.60m also a masters club record.
Top scorers for the day were Ellie Mae Stokes with wins in the javelin, triple and long jump and a second place in the high jump. Devon Spencer had volunteered for two races which were not usual to her showing great team spirit and recorded wins in the 400m hurdles and triple jump plus a second in the steeplechase after having been part of the winning 100m relay team along with Lily Hughes, Georgie Ivens and Maria Hollingsworth.
Teammates, Lloyd Kempson and Alex Hampson provided one of the most eagerly watched events of the day in the men's 3,000m with Lloyd taking the honours in the second half of the race and both lads recording team wins. The men's throwers produced good points with Martin Tinkler and Robbie Shaw winning the shot putt, Sam Wilson winning the hammer whilst Thomas Saunorious and David Bush taking a clean sheet in the javelin.
Maria Hollingsworth destroyed the field with some very smooth 100m hurdling and although she spent most of the day assisting with officiating in the hammer, Alison Church achieved a good second place in the javelin.
Dave Brown and Andrea Jenkins will be missing from the final fixture due to them competing in the World Masters, both of whom will be seriously missed at Stevenage. Andrea had scored well, once more with wins in the hammer, discus and shot putt. She had been well supported by Becki Hall also with wins in both the discus and shot putt, throwing a personal best discus despite just standing following a recent sickness.
The performances were shown clearly in the Man of the Match awards through the league scoring system. This system awards the top six males and females for each meeting. Nene Valley won the man of the match with Sean Reidy's 54.0 400m hurdle win but they also took three other of the top six places with Martin Tinklers shot of 14.58m (3rd), Ashley Sandall's 400m victory in 48.9s (4th) and Daz Holdings 49.1 'A' string win of 49.1s (5th).
The ladies went close to matching this with four of the six awards and Andrea Jenkins, who attains a top five score every match she competes in attaining second place with her hammer throw of 48.76m. The other top six ladies were Lily Hughes with her 100m time of 12.2s (4th), Maria Hollingsworth's 100m hurdles time of 14.9s (5th) and Becki Hall's shot putt of 12.09 being sixth placed.
The club beat top of the table Crawley by 39 points leaving them second in the league behind Crawley, equal on league points but just 15 match points going into the final fixture at Stevenage on 15 August 2015. This defeat for Crawley is the first match they have not won in three seasons of competition. This really sets the club in a position to challenge for the Southern League title next month.