West Yorkshire Track & Field League
Report by: Martin Cunnane
The track and field season kicked off in earnest with the holding of the first match in the seven fixture strong programme of the West Yorkshire Track and Field League at Huntington Stadium, York.
Wakefield Harriers, who have had a stranglehold on both the men's and women's overall league champions trophies for the last five years, look set to retain the women's trophy after scoring a total of 202 points from the female events, a total which proved to be more than all the 10 competing clubs put together.
It was a different story in the men's competitions where a poor turn out from Wakefield's male athletes saw them finish the day languishing in fifth spot behind early leaders Leeds City.
Wakefield's massive total in the women's section was achieved without the help of the club's vaunted senior squad with only three senior team members in action on the day.
Specialist sprinter Elaine Sutcliffe opened her league campaign with two second places behind Bingley's Nicole Crosby, first finishing just a tenth of a second behind Crosby in the 100m in a reasonable 12.7 secs with junior club mate Fiona Westwood sprinting well for third spot, before going on to claim the runners-up berth again in the 200m in 25.8 secs with 18 year old Westwood again getting into the scoring finishing fifth overall.
Sutcliffe ended the day by heading a Wakefield one-two in the javelin, beating veteran club mate Jenny Cunnane by just under a metre to end the day topping the individual points table with 17 points. Westwood also made the scoring in the javelin taking the single point for sixth place while Jenny Cunnane added the points from third place in the shot competition.
Moving on to the U/ 17 women's competitions, Wakefield athletes won four out of the five events contested.
Kate Richardson led a Wakefield clean sweep of the first four places in the 100m, winning from team mates Hayley Atkinson, Jenny Handley and Kirsty Hodson who filled second, third and fourth places respectively.
Atkinson went on to win the discus, reversing the placings with Richardson who finished second while Kirsty Hodson ensured another Wakefield clean sweep of the major placings by finishing third.
Jenny Handley won the high jump by a wide margin with her day's best clearance of 1.55m. Hodson went on to score for the third time of the day finishing a good second to Skyrac's J. Warman in the 300m, recording 47.7 secs, with Wakefield team mate Emma Martin collecting a respectable third place on her debut in the club colours.
Wakefield's best performance in the U/17s competitions was provided by Becky Fender in the 1500m where, after heading affairs for the first 700m along with club mate Aine Hoban and Skyrac's Helen Grinstead, Fender took the lead 800m out after seeing Hoban take a crashing fall.
Despite being challenged throughout the last 150 metres by Skyrac's Grinstead, she kept on strongly to win by five metres in 5 mins 03.9 secs.
Hoban, who has had a tremendous cross country season, got to her feet and enterprising running saw her claw back 50 metres on the second chasing pack to move into fifth place and finish in a respectable 5m 15.7 secs.
It was a similar story in the U/15 girls section Wakefield again dominating to claim victories in four of the six events contested.
Emily Mason started the ball rolling with a personal best clearance of 1.50m to claim maximum points in the high jump from team mate Ruth Laybourne in second spot with Amy Fozzard fourth and Rebecca Swain fifth place.
Laybourne got into winning mode with victory in the long jump with her day's best leap of 4.72m heading yet another Wakefield clean sweep of the first four places. Vicky Lambert was second with 4.40m, Amy Fozzard close up third 4.37m and Vicky Lockwood fourth with her best effort of 4.31m.
Lockwood kept the ball rolling by prevailing by a tenth of a second in the 100m, winning in 13.8 secs from her year younger club mate Katie Smith and Ruth Laybourne who shared 2nd spot after both clocked 13.9 secs. Vicky Lambert again got into the scoring places taking fifth spot overall.
Laura Robinson sprinted well to snatch a narrow victory in the 200m from Spenborough's Ruth Gobbi, winning by just under a metre in a creditable 27.7 secs. Kate Smith finished third overall in 28.2 secs with Linda Jowett fifth in 29.0 secs and Olivia Smith sixth in 29.2 secs also adding to the Harriers' already impressive points haul.
The 1500m saw Wakefield duo Zoe Gowland and Carly Wright provide the only serious challenge to Skyrac's Yorkshire cross country champion Emily Spencer. Gowland's steady running made Spencer pull out all the stops to register victory by just over a second, with Gowland's finishing time being a personal best 5 mins 02.8 secs.
Wright, who stayed on gamely for third spot, also recorded a personal best time of 5 mins 06.3 secs with Sam Colley running her usual solid race to take fifth position at the line, clocking 5 mins 14.7 secs.
In the 800m, won by first heat winner Sarah Holah of Pudsey & Bramley in 2 mins 29.4 sees, Wakefield's Lucy Martin showed she has benefited from last winter's cross country campaign by finishing an excellent third in a personal best 2m 36.1 secs.
Wakefield's L.Hall won heat two of the 800m in decisive fashion clocking 2 mins 40.2 secs to place fifth overall, and is another athlete that looks certain to improve in the coming season.
Moving onto the U/13 girls competitions, Naida Bromley opened her seasonal account with a victory in the long jump, winning comfortably from S.Brook of Parkside with her best leap being measured at 4.29 metres. Bromley was beaten into second place in the 80 metres by club mate L. Shaw who sprinted well to collect maximum points in 11.4 secs with Bromley second having clocked 11.6 secs and other Wakefield athlete, Emily Locker, adding the points for fifth place overall with 12.5 secs.
Bromley was in the points again in the 800m, fading over the last 200m to finish 10 seconds behind runaway winner B.Townsend of Leeds City who won in 2 mins 35.6 secs. Jan Faulkner put in an improved performance to finish sixth in a personal best 2 mins 50.4 secs.
Finally, in the U/ 11 girls competitions, Jolene Wright ran tremendously well in the 600m. Leading from the off her front running soon opened up a winning margin and despite the best effo ts of Spenborough's Charlotte Craddock the Wakefield youngster kept on strongly to register a handsome victory, coming home 35 metres clear of the runner-up in a personal best 2 mins 07.5 secs.
Wright went on to pick up the point for sixth place in the 75 metres clocking 13 secs flat to finish a second behind Bradford Airedale's Alice Simpson.
In the final analysis of the female competitions Wakefield ended the day winning 12 of the 22 events contested and Wakefield athletes headed five of the six individual league tables.
Elaine Sutcliffe led the seniors, Ruth Laybourne the U/15s, Naida Bromley the U/13s and Kate Richardson, Hayley Atkinson and Kirsty Hodson are tied on 12 points each at the top of the U/17s individual table.
On this sort of form Wakefield will have the league title wrapped up by the halfway stage and it will only remain to be seen whether the Harriers can break their league record points total of 761 points set last season.
Wakefield's men's team struggled however, a low turn out of athletes kept the point scoring down although the athletes on duty performed admirably lack of numbers was the club's downfall.
In the U/ 17 men's competitions last year's triple Yorkshire U/15 champion Alan Ruddock finished third in 12.6 secs in the 100m behind Halifax's Craig Farrar. John Uridge also scored points for Wakefield, claiming fifth overall in 12.9 secs.
Specialist high jumper James Wild turned out in the discus and was rewarded with a second place finish behind Bingley's S.Flack.
In the U/15 boys section, first year athlete John Fletcher, last year's individual West Yorkshire League U/13 champion, got his league season off to a satisfactory start by finishing second in the 200 metres in 27.5 secs to Holmfirth's Thomas Jennings. Fletcher claimed third in the 100 metres behind the same athlete and fourth in the discus again behind talented all-rounder Jennings.
Moving on to the U/13 boys competitions, James Fox engineered two third place finishes behind Parkside's Adam Wood in the shot, and Ben Dyer, also representing Parkside, in the 80m with respective performances of 6.97m and 11.9 secs.
First year U/13 Jamie Wilson also got into the points finishing a good second in the high jump with a 1.25m clearance behind Parkside's Daniel Byrom who claimed victory with a 1.30 metre jump.
In the U/11 boys section, Chris Brennan, Chris Lockwood and S.Howe finished second, third and fourth in the long jump with respective leaps of 3.21m, 3.17m and 3.11m.
Howe went on to increase his personal points haul by finishing third in the 75 metres, clocking 12.3 secs behind Parkside's D.Hartley who won in 11.7 secs.
Finally in the senior men's events, Steve Thorpe was Wakefield's solitary representative and he weighed in with fifth place in the 100m after clocking 12 secs flat behind Skyrac's Andy Isaacs who won a close race in 11.8 secs.
Thorpe ended the day with a good fourth place in the 200m, recording 24 secs flat behind Nestle/Rowntrees' Phil Denham who won in 23.6 secs.
On this performance Wakefield will have to improve greatly if they are to hang onto their league title for a record sixth year in succession.