UK Womens League
Report by:Bryan Murray
6th May 2000 - Eton
Wakefield Harriers' women's team rose to the challenge of high-class competition at the first meeting in the UK League. The first division clash was hosted by Slough and Eton Track Club in Windsor. Wakefield defied the odds after being given no chance by many so-called experts.
Wakefield finished fourth, just three points short of Trafford AC in third, and every Wakefield athlete deserves praise. For many of them it was their first taste of top-flight competition.
At one stage of the competition, Wakefield were leading and were never out of the top three places until the end. In the early events Wakefield piled on the points.
New hammer recruit Suzanne Roberts managed four personal bests in the competition and was up against GB internationals Lorraine Shaw and Lyn Sprules. Roberts threw 51.88m for fourth place.
U20 athlete Helen Taylor had a great start, throwing 42.96m before the pressure told. Nevertheless, she took second in the B competition.
Amanda Shepherd and another newcomer Donna Calvert placed eighth and sixth in respective A and B competitions with throws of 37.31 m and 31.56m.
Several of the team had to double up on events and with temperatures close to the mid-20s it was a tough day. But over the sprints, Wakefield Harriers did exceptionally well in the points total.
Nicole Crosby was second in the A 100m and third in the A 200m. Both Fiona Westwood and Kerry Jury were there fighting for the team with Westwood securing fifth in the B 100m and Jury fourth over the 200m B-string event, despite a troublesome leg injury.
Shirley Griffiths and Penny Thackray competed in both the 1500m and 3000m - a stint that can only be admired. Griffiths and Thackray, over the seven-and-a-half lap race, stuck to their plans. Griffiths was second in the A and Thackray also secured second in the B.
But all the top opposition had transferred to run in the 1500m so, after a brief recovery, out went Griffiths and Thackray. They did not disappoint the travelling Wakefield supporters with Griffiths placing third, and Thackray clinching top spot in the B 1500m.
Alice Butler gave the team a tremendous lift by winning the A 800m after a photo finish. In the B race, Sarah Beevers held her form for third place in the one-lap 400m race, Butler and Catherine Bacon didn't disgrace themselves with sixth-place points from the A and B races. Bacon also put in a good run over the A 400m hurdles to place sixth. Julia Sykes was second in the B 400m hurdles.
Wind readings were recorded at +2.3m per second for the sprint hurdles, but both Jury and Ruth Dales battled hard over the ten flights. Jury, up against top hurdlers Melanie Wilkins and Liz Fairs, placed a superb third in the A race, while Dales, held on for fourth in the B event despite not having her best race.
Jury was back in action in the high jump and placed third on countback. Judith Payne did enough to place second in the B event.
Long jumpers Fiona Westwood and Becky Foster were involved in a close contest. Both placed fourth in respective A and B events. Foster and Sykes were then pipped for better points in respective A and B javelin events, placing fourth and sixth.
Vicki Mills was the only Harrier to gain points in the pole vault.
Kelly Brow and Judith Payne took fifth in respective A and B triple jumps.
Westwood, Jury, Dales and Crosby put in a good 4x100m performance for fourth in 48.46 secs and are sure to improve with more frequent baton passing sessions.
Julia Sykes took over from the injured Cath Bacon in the 4x400m relay, and with Crosby, Butler and Beevers placed sixth overall.
The women's team's second UK League Division 1 match is in Glasgow, and the team travels in the knowledge that a good placing will secure first division status for next year.