Nene Valley Harriers victorious in top of the table clash! Here's coach, Ken Maggs' report.
The senior squad from NVH travelled down to Crawley on Saturday 8 July 2017 knowing that this match would be significant for the league title. NVH went into the fixture top of the league but were facing Blackheath & Bromley Harriers and Dartford Harriers placed second and third in the league. The hosts however, were only a couple of points further behind.
The very first track event suggested that this was going to be a tough days work with all teams fielding A and B string athletes in the ladies 400m hurdles and Rosie Jacobs and Claire Smith claiming third places and Claire breaking the club record in the process. This was the start of the days personal bests with record performances for athletes all over the place. The men’s version of the event set the foundation for the day with both Sean ‘Rocky’ Reidy and David Bush winning to put NVH and Blackheath ahead in the fixture.
Rosie Fresen was unlucky not to continue a winning streak when pipped on count back in the pole vault, while new member, Cipriano Miranda started to demonstrate the spring he had with a good third place allowing Gregorij Kondratovic to win the B string. Gregorij added a pole vault win to his record later on and Cipriano later won the triple jump with an impressive 13.46m.
Meanwhile the NVH ladies field eventers, started an unbelievable day. Andrea Jenkins, Lydia Church and Kelly Lawrence continued their fine form winning the hammer and then Becky Hall and Ellie Mae Stokes joined in with a shot putt and javelin wins respectively. In fact these five ladies won all the throwing events on the day. The jumpers however, did not wish to be out played with Emily Maltby and Ellie Mae winning both horizontal jumps whilst Emily added the B string high jump whilst Rosie Fresen and Rosie Jacobs added points. The ladies won all put two of their field events.
Emily Maltby was not contented to rest with the filed and added a 100m sprint and sprint relay to her tally of wins with a second place in the A string hurdles.
The men similarly added on a great haul of points in the field with wins and second places in all but three competitions. The throwers had a hard day with some very tough competition showing why these three teams were all at the top of the table. Simon Achurch recording two wins and a second, martin Tinkler with two second places with his shot putt giving him a top three man of the match finish.
In the short sprints, Gideon Okoh and Callum Crosby won the 100m, whilst Gideon was pipped in the 200m but David ‘Blade’ Brown won the B string. James McCrae took both middle distance wins with Ollie Bowling also winning the 800m B string but adding a second place in the steeplechase.
The team spirit was shown at the end of the match during the relays, the support was a fifth team member and saw the men take both the 100m and 400m relays. The ladies added the 100m relay but one exceptional leg by Yimika Adewakum for Blackheath left NVH in second place.
In the match report, the ladies did wish to point out to their male counterparts that this is the first match which the ladies have been outscored by the men in the last couple of years. However, Emily scoring am almost maximum 19 points from 5 events and Andrea Jenkins with Ellie Mae getting 12 points from 3 events. Rocky and Simon Achurch scored 11 from four and three events with Martin Tinkler getting 10 from three leading the way for the men.
It is often the strong A string performance which leads to B string scores and thus the result is always a team performance so although some athletes have been mentioned during this report, the match was won by the NVH team. It could not be achieved with the number of young and old athletes stepping into events as needed. I don’t think either team a manger had to ask athletes to help when injuries occurred and the number of personal bests showed what the result meant. Ollie Bowling and Ellie Piccaver both asking to run the steeplechase and both showing that this may actually be an event for them being a prime example and makes the managers proud.
It was a great day for the club and means that as long as they avoid a last place in the final fixture on 20 August at Southampton then they will win the league for the second time in three years. The club is hoping that the weekend will result in a double celebration; if the men’s squad can continue their form in the next fixture in the British League at Bedford next weekend then they could win promotion the day after the Southern League title.