National Junior Womens League
Report by: Martin Cunnane
Wakefield Harriers U20 women's squad have just missed out on the Northern Premier Division title - by half a point.
The squad ended their 1999 National Junior League programme at Liverpool's Wavertree Stadium, where despite being short of several first choice athletes including Emily Freeman and Victoria Shepherd, they finished third on the day behind Birchfield and Sale, who tied for first place.
The rest of the finishing positions saw host club Liverpool finish fourth, followed by Wigan, Border, Trafford and Gateshead. But the Harriers' creditable finish meant they missed out by the narrowest of margins on the Premier Division title.
Points were always going to be hard to come by with both the title and relegation issues at stake, but despite only winning four B events during the hotly contested competitions, there were plenty of promising performances from Wakefield's representatives.
Seventeen year old junior hammer thrower Helen Taylor kept up her season's steady improvement by setting another personal best mark in her favoured event the hammer, launching the 4kg implement 43.63m to claim second in the A competition, just 2m behind North of England junior champion Vicky Scott of Liverpool, who threw 45.62m. Taylor's career best effort earned her the overall field athlete of the match award and she also provided the points from sixth in the A discus.
Michelle Lonsdale scored a hatful of points starting in her favoured event the javelin where she threw 37.42m, narrowly behind winner G Whalebacks of Border who won a close contest with 38.02m. Lonsdale went on to notch a field event B string double by prevailing in her unfamiliar B hammer with a 28.16m effort and then going on to win the B pole vault in her first attempt, clearing 1.90m and finished the day with third place in the B discus.
The long jump proved to be a productive event for the Harriers with Fiona Westwood just failing to capture maximum points in the A string event after finishing just 11cm behind Birchfield's D Andrews who won with a 5.75m leap. Westwood went on to win the B 100m, sprinting powerfully to comfortably eclipse Sale's Gemma McFayne in 13 secs flat.
In the B section of the long jump, U17 performer Katie Richardson claimed maximum points with a creditable 5.23m jump and also ran a leg of the sprint relay helping the squad to fourth place in 51.2 secs behind winners Birchfield (49.2).
Kerry Dobson, who has struggled to find training time this season due to her academic commitments put in a gutsy effort in the B 800m giving her all to pick up runners-up points behind Sale's Louise Whittaker. Dobson weighed in with sixth place in the A 400m and teamed up with Helen Singleton, Tara Wilson and Kirsty Hodson to earn fifth place points from the 4x400m relay won by Wigan in 4mins 01.9 secs.
Judith Payne just missed out on the A high jump finishing second with a 1.70m clearance to her credit, 5cms behind Emma Jackson of Sale and she can continue to put in quality performances in her favoured event.
Moving on to the track, Emma Phillips, who has missed most of the season through glandular fever put in a promising effort in the A 100m, finishing second to Birchfield's E Waller (12.7 secs) and then finished sixth in the B 200m and ran a leg of the sprint relay. And with an injury free winter training schedule under her belt is sure to be back to her very best next season, which will be her final year in the junior ranks.
Ruth Dales put in her usual competitive effort hurdling competently to snatch second place in the A 100m hurdles behind Sale's Gemma Smith (15.6 secs). Dales also finished sixth in the A 200m as well as filling in a leg on the sprint relay.
In the B 400m hurdles, Amy Ridsdale sliced almost five seconds off her previous best for the event by finishing third in 75.3 secs and looks certain to continue on the upgrade after her confidence boosting performance.
Wakefield's second place in the Northern Premier Division ensured they will join champions Sale along with Liverpool and Birchfield in Sunday's National Junior League Premiership Grand Final at Moorways Stadium, Derby on 12th September where they will take on the top four finishers from the Southern Premier Division.
Other Wakefield squad members were: Helen Singleton, Aine Hoban, Vicki Mills, Kirsty Hodson, Alex Carr, Becky Leach and Jenny Handley.
Northern Premier Division final positions: Sale 26.5 points, WAKEFIELD 26, Liverpool 24, Birchfield 22.5, Wigan 20, Border 13, Trafford 7, Gateshead 4.