It was a match of two halves as Newbury AC travelled to Milton Keynes for their fourth Southern Athletics League fixture on Saturday. Whilst the men’s team were near full strength and challenging for wins all day, the ladies team at just nine athletes strong was the smallest Newbury AC squad in the history of the SAL. Despite this, the team rallied round as best as they could, filling events wherever possible and were delighted to come away with third place against three opposition teams in the top 5 of the league. Final score: Marshall Milton Keynes 215pts, Basingstoke & Mid Hants 210, Newbury 172, Epsom & Ewell 168.
It was a promising start for Newbury with a double win in the first track event of the day, the 400m hurdles. Sam Plumb flew round the single lap to take a convincing win in 52.8s, his fastest ever league clocking, and enough to earn him the highest athlete score of the day. Behind Sam, Reuben Langdon showed fantastic natural talent in his first ever long hurdles race to not only dominate the B string, but also smash the magical minute mark with a 58.7s effort. Sam continued his fine form in the 400m flat, biding his time behind a fast starting Milton Keynes athlete before powering though on the home straight to take the win in a blistering 48.7s.
Newbury can always rely on big points in the throws when Helen Broadbridge is on the team sheet, and this match proved no exception. After winning the A string hammer, shot put and discus and taking second place in the javelin, Helen could have been forgiven for calling it a day there. However in true Newbury AC style, Helen spotted a gap in the team for high jump, and despite not having attempted a jump of any height for nine years, cleared the bar at 1.43m to take second place in the A string, adding further much needed points to the team’s tally.
Bo Stewart had an excellent day in the ladies sprint events, seemingly unfazed by a packed schedule to record three personal best performances in the 100m, 200m and long jump. To add to this, Bo stormed to victory in the 100m hurdles A string, before rounding off the day with the relay.
The men’s 800m provided maximum points for Newbury, with Harry Russell marking his first league outing of the season with a comfortable victory in 1:57.0. After a fast start, Will Tyson just managed to hold off the challenge from the Milton Keynes athlete to take the B string win behind Harry, with a PB time of 2:02.7. There was a similar double victory in the men’s hammer for Oliver Hewitt and Jamie Kuehnel, only the second time Newbury have had both athletes clear the 50m mark in the league. Oliver and Jamie matched this result in the discus, whilst also picking up useful points in the shot.
On a day where a number of junior athletes were lost to English Schools, our veteran athletes took their chance to shine. Jumps coach Sara Rudd improved three of her own V50 club records in the high jump (1.28m), pole vault (1.75m) and long jump (3.58m), while also finishing second in the B string 100m hurdles. Sarah Fowler added another V60 club record to her collection, with 5.97m in the triple jump.There were further PBs for Ben Newman in the 100m, Will Tyson in the 400m, Ben Wickens in the 1500m, Mike Robbins in the 3000m steeplechase and Ryan Hill in the high jump.
The match came to a climax with the second running of the mixed 4x400m relay – a new addition to the timetable in 2019, and for the first time both A and B strings were run together. Tactics played a crucial part with Newbury B team front–loading their quartet, while the A team did the opposite. This meant Bo Stewart in the A team faced the daunting task of lining up on the start line for her first ever 400m against seven male athletes! Bo coped remarkably well, running a 66.6s split and handing over to Emma Downie without too much gap to the leading pack. Sam Plumb took over from Emma on leg three to chase down seven female athletes, and handed the baton to Harry Russell topick off a few more, bringing the team home in third with a new club record of 3:54.9.
Once again this was a true team effort from a stretched squad, so congratulations to all athletes who competed. This result should keep us in a healthy league position heading into the final match at Hemel Hempstead on 17th August.