North of England AA Senior Championships 1999
Report by: Martin Cunnane
Wakefield Harriers' senior women were in championship winning form at the North of England Track and Field Championships held at South Leeds Stadium.
Star of the show for the Harriers was 18-year-old Emily Freeman who followed up her Northern U20 spring double at Wigan recently by stepping up to the seniors level to repeat the feat with a pair of classy efforts in both sprint finals.
In the 100m, Freeman made a terrific start and led early. And, running on strongly, she crossed the line a full metre clear of Barnsley's Melanie Pickersgill in a pb 11.93 secs.
Freeman, who ran without the aid of starting blocks, has come on leaps and bounds and going on the manner in which she completed the notable double she defeated Bingley's Nicole Crosby by over five metres in the 200m in 24.92 secs - Freeman could well develop into a national class sprinter.
International heptathlete Kerry Jury kept up Wakefield's gold rush by picking up the Northern long jump title with her day's best leap of 5.88m with Trafford's Nicola Gautier taking silver with 5.44m. Wakefield junior Fiona Westwood claimed the bronze with her day's best leap of 5.34m. Jury also finished sixth in both the shot and javelin finals.
Wakefield's new signing Penny Thackray marked her debut run for the club by out sprinting North of England cross country champion Jane Spark of Altrincham and District to win the Northern 5000m crown. After coming from what looked like a hopeless position 120m out, she won going away after unleashing a devastating burst of finishing power in the home straight.
Thackray's winning time of 16 mins 48.07 secs set a new Wakefield club record for the distance and she looks like being a major force in the Harriers' forthcoming promotion push in the UK Women's League.
Veteran Jenny Cunnane pulled off the biggest shock of the afternoon, beating former UK and Commonwealth women's pole vault record holder Linda Stanton of Sale Harriers by 10cm to collect the North of England pole vault title with her day's best clearance of 3.20m. She too looks set to have a major say in the medals battle in the event at this year's World Veterans' Athletics Championships which will be held in England for the first time at Gateshead International Stadium in August. Cunnane also finished sixth in the hammer and ninth in the discus final.
Yorkshire senior heptathlon champion Becky Foster had a productive day, gaining fifth in the 100m hurdles final in 15.54 secs after recovering well from a slow start, and going on to grab bronze in the javelin with 40.39m behind Karen Martin of Derby Ladies who won with 49.40m.
Junior putter Victoria Shepherd kept up her recent run of improved form by collecting bronze in the senior shot with her day's best effort of 11.90m behind Nicole Gautier of Trafford, who won with 13.93m.
Amanda Sheppard just failed to take a medal in the discus, finishing fourth with 37.95m behind Leeds City's Sue Backhouse who won with 42.66m.
Elaine Sutcliffe missed an almost certain medal when she had to withdraw from the 400m final, won by Kim Goodwin of City of Hull in 55.30 secs, after suffering a slight muscle pull. Sutcliffe had earlier qualified for the final after cruising to victory in the heat easing down in 58.93 secs with team-mate Alice Butler fourth in 59.95 secs.