Northern Inter Counties T&F Championships
Report by: Martin Cunnane
Wakefield athletes were out in force at the recent Northern Inter Counties Championships at Quibell Park Stadium, Scunthorpe.
They were representing Yorkshire against teams from Cheshire, Cumbria, Derbyshire, Greater Manchester, Humberside, Lincolnshire, Merseyside, North East Counties and the old enemy Lancashire.
In the senior women's competitions, middle distance star Shirley Griffiths was outstanding in the 1500m. Travelling up with the pace from the off, she made a long run for home 400m out and had soon put daylight between herself and fellow international team-mate Barnsley based Jilly Ingman. She crossed the line almost five seconds clear of Ingman in a season's best 4 mins 21.8 secs.
Wakefield team-mate Penny Thackray also performed admirably in the 3000m. She forced the pace throughout but had no answer to the last bend burst of acceleration of Merseyside representative E Ford, and finished four metres down at the line, second in 9 mins 38.7 secs.
Alice Butler, who has been struggling to find the form of last season, trailed the field early in the 800m but finished strongly to move up into third place at the line, recording 2 mins 13.1 secs behind Yorkshire team-mate Paula Fryer, who won in 2 mins 13.1 secs.
The blustery wind made life difficult for the sprint hurdlers, who included Wakefield's improving junior Ruth Dales, who qualified comfortably for the final despite hitting the last two hurdles. In the final, Dales finished a respectable second behind NE Counties' Sarah Todd, who won in 15.3 secs.
Emma Phillips returned to competition after four months out with glandular fever and did well in the circumstances to finish fifth in the 100m after answering a late call-up to Yorkshire's squad.
Phillips, who has another year in the junior ranks, will be looking to regain fitness over the winter and is sure to make her mark in next season's major sprint competitions.
In the senior women's field events, another of the Harriers' talented U20s, Michelle Lonsdale, justified her selection for the javelin by finishing second with 40.56m behind Liverpool's Linda Gray, who won with a 43.95m effort.
International heptathlete Kerry Jury cleared 1.75m to gain maximum points in the high jump, beating Humberside's outstanding teenager Sophie McQueen by 5cm.
But the Harriers' team skipper had to give best to junior team-mate Fiona Westwood in the long jump, with the youngster registering her first ever victory over her older club mate by 6cm after leaping a pb 5.80m to finish second behind Humberside's A Dawson, who won with 5.90m.
Despite an Achilles problem, Amanda Sheppard turned out in the shot and finished third behind Merseyside's Helen Wilding who won by almost two metres with a best putt of 13.09m.
In the U17 women's competitions, Katie Richardson leapt a pb 5.26m for second place behind the North East's Elaine Smith. Jenny Handley finished eighth in the high jump.
In the U15 girls' section, Emily Mason earned third place points in the high jump and also finished seventh in the 75m hurdles final. And Vicky Lambert claimed fifth place in the long jump with 5.05m, with club-mate Ruth Laybourn eighth with 4.90m. Laybourn also finished 14th in the shot.
Yorkshire successfully defended the overall aggregate points trophy with 243 points to North East's 241 with Greater Manchester third on 211.
In the senior men's Inter Counties Championships, junior long sprinter Mark Ainsworth proved to be the Wakefield athlete selected for Yorkshire's senior men's team. He qualified for the 400m final, finishing sixth behind North East Counties' B O'Brien, who won in 48.6 secs.
In the junior men's hammer, Robert Taylor's best throw of 53.67m was good enough to earn him third place behind North East's Ross Thompson whose winning throw of 62.75m set a new championship record, and D Little of Cumbria.
In the U17 men's competitions, Alex Senior ran comfortably in the 800m, heading affairs then holding off the late challenge of Derbyshire's S Flitter to win by two tenths of a second in 1 min 59.6 secs.
James Wild finished an unlucky runner up in the high jump behind Merseyside's J Creighton, beaten on countback after clearing identical heights of 1.85m.
Yorkshire, the defending overall champions, were soundly beaten on the day by North East Counties who ran out deserved winners by 336 Points to Yorkshire who totalled 256 with Humberside third on 207.