Nene Valley Harriers
NVH start the Southern Athletics League title defence with a win.

SAL, Peterborough

NVH start the Southern Athletics League title defence with a win.

Despite the rough weather forecasted, the senior squads of Nene Valley Harriers turnout at the opening fixture well wrapped up and ready to go. The meeting went ahead with only a short hail storm and a bitter cold wind. Officials and teams arrived at the stadium to find that the snow had not settled and produced a meeting of quality racing. It was hard to tell what was happening in the match score, as races were being won by different teams. The NVH athletes had their fair share of wins but also battled hard to ensure that if they were not winning then they were taking second and third places.

The club went on to show why they managed to win the league last season. This was a tricky fixture, with the city club beating the two promoted clubs who dominated the second division and also the only club to beat them last season. Not only did the club win the match but they were actually a massive 38.5 points ahead of second place.

Sean Reidy and David Bush got the club off to a great start dropping just one point in the 400m hurdles. Sean's 57.7 may not have been his personal best but having just moved into the masters age group, it was a new club record.

The men's team had a great day dropping just four points in the flat track events from 100m through to 1,500m. Kane Wright, grabbing two second places in the short sprints, James McCrae, Max Butler, Alex Hampson and Oli Bowling attaining the clean sweep over the middle distance events. Rio Chilvers ran a good steeplechase and was lucky not to have to break ice on the water jump but breaking into his first ever steeplechase he won the A string event.

Martin Tinkler and Simon Achurch led the way in the throws with maximum points for the shot putt and discus. Simon also recorded a second placed in the A string hammer and a fourth place in the javelin. Ashley Barker and Seb Barker almost took A and B string wins in the high jump but Seb's tied win meant half a point was dropped.

To finish the men's day off, the men’s 400m relay team of Ashley Sandall, James McCrae, and Max Butler with Daz Holding on the anchor leg dominated the race leaving the rest of the field well behind.

Despite the NVH men out scoring the ladies for the first time since the 2014 season the ladies who attended did themselves proud. Middle distance runner, Chloe Pavey stepping in to ensure we had a 400m relay team and pole vaulter, Rosie Fresen once again showing you can run a 2,000m steeplechase, jump through freezing water and still smile the whole distance.

Lily Hughes ran well in the 100m but was just pipped to the line and then had to borrow a pair of spikes over a size too big running in the 200m and still grabbed valuable points. It was good to see senior woman, Georgie Ivens showing that she is now fully recovered from injury with a 200m and 400m double win. She was extremely well supported in the 400m by Kelsi Ellis, racing only her second 400m and a big personal best of 61.7s. Times like this will mean that a full strength ladies 400m relay team will be extremely difficult to beat and may see the ladies eventually break the four minute barrier.

Cat Foley-Wray and Nicky Morgan ran strong races in the 3,000m and scored maximum points. Cat dominating the event from the early laps, she maintained a pace that none could stay with which put her 19 seconds clear of second and over 300m ahead of the third placed athlete.

New under 17 athlete and definitely a star of the future, Hannah Molyneaux found the senior competition tough in her first senior outing for the club. Despite that she won her B string shot putt, with Becki Hall also winning the A string and then Hannah followed up by winning the discus. Andrea Jenkins and Lydia Church produced a double win in the ladies hammer showing the good point scoring of the NVH throwers once again.

The ladies 4x100m relay team was quick in terms of the individual legs and the change overs winning the event well. Emma Hornsby and Emily Maltby came straight over from recording two second places in the high jump to join Lily Hughes and Alex Pullan. The high jump had been completed in the nick of time to save Maria Hollingsworth and Becki Hall who had started to warm up just in case from needing to compete in the relay - great team support from the ladies.

One last mention must go to under 17, Imogen Woodard who has stepped in to fill gaps in the past and competed as a non-scorer in the 3,000m knocking over half a minute of her best time recording 12:34.8.

Ken Maggs