West Yorkshire Track & Field League
Report by: Martin Cunnane
Wakefield Harriers athletes were in action at the South Leeds Stadium in the penultimate match of the seven-fixture West Yorkshire Track and Field League.
Wakefield's female section took advantage of the favourable conditions to take their overall points total to 733 which is just 30 points short of the record set in winning last year's corresponding league title.
And with one match remaining they look certain to eclipse the seemingly unbeatable total set last year, a testament to their complete dominance of the competition which they have now won for the past six seasons.
In the U17 women's section specialist long hurdler Kirsty Hodson demonstrated her all round talent by taking maximum points in the high jump. This set up a Wakefield one-two, completed by club-mate Katie Richardson, who consolidated her place at the top of the individual age group points table by collecting second place in the high jump.
Richardson went on to finish third in the 100m behind Halifax's Katie Metcalfe with Hodson again figuring prominently, eventually finishing fifth overall to move into the silver medal position individually.
Wakefield's U15s were well represented in their section of the competition with individual points leader and defending champion Ruth Laybourn taking maximum points in the 100m after a terrific tussle with team-mates Laura Robinson and Vicky Lockwood.
Laybourn eventually bagged the verdict by the thickness of a vest over Robinson, with both athletes being awarded identical times of 13.4 secs. Lockwood was just behind in 13.5 secs.
In fact, Wakefield athletes filled the first five places with Olivia Smith fourth in 13.9 secs and Amy Fozzard sixth clocking 14.1 secs.
Laybourn was in the points again in the shot, claiming second place with her best putt of 8.30m behind Bradford's Rachel Wolstenholme, who won with 9.51m. Fozzard claimed third overall with 7.92m and Lockwood finished fifth.
In the 800m, won by A Collett representing Nestle Rowntrees (York) in 2 mins 24.3 secs, Zoe Gowland ran strongly throughout before being beaten for finishing speed coming into the home straight. She had to settle for fourth in the end in 2 mins 27.2 secs, just in front of club-mate Carly Wright, who put in a much-improved performance to land fifth place in 2 mins 28.5 secs.
Another athlete to continue on the upgrade was Lucy Martin, who claimed the point for sixth place overall after running sturdily to record a pb 2 mins 31.4 secs.
In the U13 girls' section, Jan Faulkner put in one of her best-ever performances. Running with great determination, she finished a highly creditable third overall in the 800m behind Bingley's Rebecca Long, who won in 2 mins 34.1 secs.
And in the 80m, won by the same athlete in 11.5 secs, Emily Locker finished in sixth spot, clocking 12.2 secs.
The U11 girls' section threw up one of the best races of the night with Wakefield's Jaydene Wright electing to pull the field along in the 600m.
Wright led from the off and still had a ten-metre advantage over her rivals rounding the last turn, but determined running by Skyrac's Kate Newman saw her collar the Wakefield youngster close home to gain a hard-earned victory in 1 min 59.3 secs.
Wright's time in second place was a pb 2 mins 00.1 secs and she will have learned from her narrow defeat.
Also in the female section, Becky Leach supplied the points from third place, in the shot behind ex-Wakefield athlete Fiona Barr, now representing Parkside, who won with 9.14m.
In the 200m, won by Bingley's Nicole Crosby in 25.3 secs, Wakefield's Janet Robinson continued on the come-back trail by making junior club-mate Fiona Westwood pull out all the stops to hold her off with the youngster eventually hanging on to fifth overall in 27.4 secs with Robinson right behind in sixth, clocking 27.5 secs.
In the men's section, a poor turn-out of athletes throughout the previous five meetings had seen Wakefield enter the evening's competitions in fifth place behind leaders Skyrac.
But an improved turnout, and with it an increase in league points, saw the Harriers finish the night in joint second place in the league table on 207. However, Wakefield are still well behind leaders Skyrac who now look certain to break Wakefield's five-year stranglehold on the men's league title.
U17 middle distance star Alex Senior was in outstanding form, leading all the way from the gun in the 800m. He was forced to run on his own and, finishing strongly, he was rewarded for his front-running with a new pb winning time of 1 min 58.5 secs. Senior can now look forward to his first year in the junior ranks next season with some confidence.
Steve Faulkner couldn't match club-mate Senior's early pace but stayed on well to finish a honourable fifth in 2 mins 08.6 secs.
Staying with the U17s, there was also a good performance from improving sprinter Matt Young, who again showed immense promise by leaping from the blocks to power to a narrow victory over Halifax's Rob McKenzie in a speedy 11.7 secs.
Alan Ruddock, just returning to competition after suffering a niggling back problem, finished third in 11.9 secs with John Uridge fifth in 12.2 secs.
And with the latter two athletes both having another year in the age group, Wakefield are sure to be well represented in sprint events next season.
In the long jump, won by Parkside's Matthew Clay with a 5.90m leap, specialist high jumper James Wild finished second with 5.50m with Uridge again scoring good points just behind in third with his best evening's best effort of 5.43m.
In the senior men's events, novice middle distance performer James Lloyd continued his steady improvement in the 800m where he held sway from the start. He led until the last 75 metres when Leeds City's John Prideaux hit the front to win by four tenths of a second in 2 mins 03.0 secs. Lloyd hung on to the runners up spot despite a determined challenge over the last 30 metres by Skyrac's Shaun O'Neil, who had to settle for third spot in 2 mins 03.8 secs.
In the 200m, won by individual league points leader Thomas Poulson-White of Skyrac in 23.6 secs, Wakefield's Karl Krauss collected fifthplace points, clocking 25.2 secs.
John Fletcher scored a sparkling track and field double in the U15 boys' section. He collected maximum points in the long jump at the expense of Parkside's D, Hines, winning by 16cm with his best leap of 4.97m.
Fletcher completed the double by taking the honours in the 100m, clocking 13.1 secs. And with another year in the age group he is sure to be favourite to top next years individual table.
In the U13 boys' section, James Fox increased his chances of a top three finish by finishing runner up to individual Points leader Andrew Staniland in the discus.
And he will be pulling out all the stops in the final league meeting at Cleckheaton in his bid for individual honours.
In the U11 boys' section, S Howe ran with considerable promise in both the 75m sprint and the 600m. Howe finished second to Parkside's D Hartley in the former, clocking 12.1 secs, before collecting the point for sixth place behind the same athlete in the 600m, where the Wakefield youngster clocked 2 mins 05.4 secs.