SAL Round 2 – Andover – 19th May 2019

Report from Mike Robbins

Newbury AC continued their fine start to the season with a tightly contested victory in their home Southern Athletics League fixture in Andover on Sunday. After initially announcing the match result as a dead heat, later inspection found the extra points required to secure Newbury victory over their local rivals – finishing with 231 points to Radley AC’s 228, with Yeovil Olympiads and South London Harriers further back on 158 and 152.

The undoubted highlight of the day was the introduction of the mixed 4x400m relay. This contemporary take on the classic event sees a team of two men and two women combine, running in any order they chose to produce an exciting spectacle. Newbury AC were instrumental in adding this event to the league programmeduring the off-season, so it was a joy to finally see the fruits of their labour in action. On track, the club’s men and women combined seamlessly taking third in the A string and second in the B to make the new addition a great success.

Elsewhere, Newbury picked up their best points haul in the men’s distance events. A large team meant most athletes could focus on a single event for once, and the benefits were obvious to see. Will Tyson – running his first 800m in a Newbury vest for five years – showed no signs of rustiness as he lead from gun to tape to secure the A string victory. Ben Wickens almost managed to repeat Will’s success in the B string, but was narrowly pipped into second place on the line. The illustrious double victory was however achieved in the 3000m, with Callum O’Neill running away from the field to take the A string win with a PB time of 8:49.2, followed home by James Craggs with a comfortable B string win. Mike Robbins continued his impressive recent form in the 3000m steeplechase, looking at home over the barriers to seal victory, while Mark Lane was just edged into second place in the B race on the last lap. Max Read and Dan Tuttle teamed up well to take second A and first B in a closely fought 1500m.

Newbury AC know they can always rely on their throwers for big points, and this match was no exception. Helen Broadbridge showed her class to win all three heavy throws, with her mighty 42.32m effort in the discus good enough to earn her the “athlete of the match” award. Ollie Hewitt dominated the men’s hammer recording yet another throw over the 50m mark, while Bob Broadbridge picked up valuable points by winning both the B string hammer and discus.

The pole vault was the best of the jump events for Newbury, with maximum points across the men and women. Dan Tuttle, Reuben Langdon and Jenny O’Connor all won their respective strings, while Trinity O’Connor was the most impressive of the quartet on the day – vaulting higher than any female Newbury athlete has managed before with 3.20m to take the A string victory. Trinity and Jenny repeated this double victory in the high jump, while Ben Newman and Craig Beecham left it to the last round of jumps, but achieved the same result in the men’s long jump.

There were welcome debuts to the senior team for some of Newbury’s junior athletes. Ben Newman and Alistair Jardine suggested that the club has a strong future ahead in the sprint events, with the latter taking the B string victory in the 200m. Callum Potts and Gabby Stewart-Power ran sensible, controlled races for second place in the 400m and 800m respectively.

Further Newbury wins came from Lawrence Baker, with a PB timeof 11.7s in the 100m B string, Craig Beecham and Trinity O’Connor (both triple jump B), and Becky Elsmere (5000m B).Maisie Jeger ran a stunning 60.4s 400m, but had to settle for second place alongside Bo Stewart who had a busy day in the sprints. The Downie sisters racked up 13 points between them covering all the middle distance events, and Lilly Gohara lowered her PB in the 100m hurdles by over half a second, with 17.8s. Ryan Hill, Anne Stewart-Power, Abi Livingstone, and Amber White rounded off the scoring team.

Newbury move on to St Albans for their third fixture, taking place on Saturday 15th June.

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