Athletes continue to be inspired to their best-ever performances at ESAA champs

Five meeting records were set on the second and final day of the New Balance English Schools' Championships as so many of the country’s top school-age athletes continued to be inspired to their best-ever performances. Particularly excelling at the Alexander Stadium in Birmingham were two Middlesex relay teams, who bit chunks out of the previous championship best. Mia McIntosh (Herts, Dacorum & Tring, Deborah Keenleyside) was also well under the old mark in the 75m hurdles for junior girls. Meanwhile, Joel Pascall-Menzie (Essex, Newham & Essex Beagles) sprinted to new figures in the inter boys’ 100m. In the field, Emilie Oakden (Sussex, Lewes, Richard Pilling) cleared a record in the junior girls’ pole vault.

Senior boys

Enjoying the perfect send-off as he prepares to represent Britain at the European Athletics U20 Championships in Sweden next week, Lewis Byng (Warwickshire, Stratford upon Avon, Stuart Carlaw) stepped up from his intermediate title last year to win gold again in the shot put. The athlete who was seventh in the European U18 Championships last summer was nearly two metres better than the next best as he went out to 18.57m. Another from those European U18s, Max Law (Hampshire, Havering, Sam Harrison), who was fourth in that occasion, was involved in a great javelin competition. Ultimately, last year’s intermediate champion had to play second fiddle to Tom Hewson (Hampshire, Andover, Mark Bedford), who defended his title with 70.80m - a PB by more than two metres. Law threw 66.72m behind the athlete who is second on this year’s UK senior rankings.

Destiny Ogali (Herts, Dacorum & Tring), in his first year as a senior, having taken inter silver in 2018, edged the 100m in 10.70. England U20 champion William Adeyeye, who won silver in the long jump two years ago, this time won the 110m hurdles, clocking a big PB of 14.00. Matthew Waterfield (Northumberland, Morpeth) also smashed his previous best, stopping the clock on 48.72 in the 400m. Chukwuemeka Ossamor (S. Yorkshire, Sheffield & Dearne, James Taylor) won the discus with 53.66m.

Among those in the middle-distances to impress were Conall McGuinness (Cambs, Cambridge & Coleridge, Mark Vile) in the steeplechase (5:58.18), Yusuf Bizimana (Essex, Victoria Park & Tower Hamlets, Jeffery Nkrumah) in the 1500m (3:53.79), Oliver Carvell (W Midlands, Telford, Stuart Hamilton) in the 800m (1:52.16) and Kian Davis (Lancs, Preston, Peter Cook) in the 3000m (8:24.96).

Other winners were: Alex O’Callaghan-Brown (Surrey, Shaftesbury Barnet, John Blackie) in the 400m hurdles (54.33), Theo Adesina (Essex, Thurrock, Karl Sumun) in the long jump (7.02m), Toby Makoyawo (Herts, Watford, Peter Griffiths) in the 200m (21.45) and Hertfordshire’s relay team (42.04)

Senior girls

Confirming how versatile some of the top youngsters are, multi-eventer Jenna Blundell (Avon, Bath, Julie Alexander) went to the top of the UK U20 100m hurdles rankings for the year with a 13.56 clocking. In fact, the athlete who was third at the England Athletics Indoor Combined Events Championships this year is equal first in 2019 with another heptathlete, Holly Mills. She was more than six tenths of a second clear of the rest too. Charlotte Alexander (Surrey, Herne Hill, Wayne Vinton) emphatically won the 3000m, coming away to a time of 9:35.08, which was just a couple of seconds outside her PB. Rebecca Bullock (Hamp, Basingstoke, Ian Byett) was another clear winner, taking the 400m in a PB of 55.65. Orla Brennan (Berkshire, Windsor Slough Eton & Hounslow, Neil Dodson) upset the favourite in the 400m hurdles, clocking a PB 59.40. Jasmin Jolly (Lancs, Birchfield, James Hillier), who had been ahead of her on the rankings, took silver with 60.64m. Another winner setting a PB was javelin throw Lauren Farley (Kent, Blackheath & Bromley, Mark Chapman) in the senior category, throwing 45.66m.

The versatile Temi Ojora (Bucks, Windsor Slough Eton & Hounslow, Daniel Saywers), who won the high jump in these championships the previous two years, switched to the triple jump - with the same result. She was just 0.14cm short of the championship best with 12.92m. Silver went to Jazz Sears (Beds, Shaftesbury, Craig Andrew) with 12.65m. Elise Thorner (Somerset, Wells) was a big favourite going into the 1500m steeplechase and did not disappoint. Her time of 4:50.51 was within four seconds of her PB. Such is the talent of Kiah Dubarry-Gay (London, Victoria Park & Towet Hamlets, Clarence Callender), she won the 200m in her first year in the intermediate age group, clocking 23.94. Last year’s junior champion was 0.12 ahead of Hannah Foster (Herts, Shaftesbury Barnet, Craig Andrew). Likewise, Annie Testar (Gloucestershire, Stroud, Christopher Brown) stepped up from intermediate gold last year by taking the senior title here in the 800m (2:08.80). Jade Spencer-Smith (Midd, Harrow, Ellie Kormis) was in PB form in the pole vault, going clear at 3.95m to climb to third on the UK junior rankings for 2019.

Other winners were: Emily Tyrell (Devon, Exeter, Kevin Skinner) in the long jump (5.88m), Emily Williams (Nhants, Kettering, Shane Smith) in the 1500m (4:26.04), Essex’s 4x100m team (46.43) and Akaysha Ellis (London, Enfield & Haringey) in the 100m (PB 11.79

Inter boys

Producing one of the performances of the weekend, Pascall-Menzie went to fourth on the UK all-time U17 rankings. Clocking 10.48 (+1.1), his time was a championship record, although not a championship best as it was slower than the fastest wind-assisted time. He was 0.17 in front of runner-up Henry Nwoke (Mersey, Liverpool, Mike Sweeney), who also set a PB. Starting the year with a best of 11.07, he had come into the event as favourite, having improved to 10.54. Mark Lewis-Francis’s age-group best of 10.31 may be within his grasp. Pascall-Menzie’s Essex quartet were also in flying form in the relay. They had already sailed under the 41.85 championship best in the heat and in the final they went quicker still, running 41.04.

Taking more than 13 seconds from his PB, Aaron Samuel (Essex, Ilford) won the 1500m steeplechase in 4:20.30 - the fastest by an under-17 in the UK this year. The favourite Ethan Hussey (N Yorkshire, Leeds City, Andrew Henderson) won the 1500m, kicking away from Oliver Bright (London, Blackheath & Bromley, Nigel Stickings) to clock 3:59.71. In the 800m, Daniel Joyce (Durham, Tynedale, Peter Venus) emphatically took the 800m final with 1:53.30. Joshua Blevins (Nland, North Shields Poly, Lee Morgan) won a close race in the 1500m, running 4:07.64, after long-time leader Lewis Sullivan (Suff, St Edmund Pacers), the schools cross-country champion, drifted to third behind Daniel Galloway (Shrop, Telford).

Not only was Joe Harding (Essex, Basildon, Tony Jarrett) seeking a third consecutive title but he had a big lead at the top of the under-17 100m hurdles rankings. It was no surprise then when he crossed the line a clear winner in 12.76, which no doubt will have impressed his coach, the former world 110m hurdles silver medallist. Jacob Spencer (Warwickshire, Tamworth, Gordon Densley) took a close 200m race, his time a big PB of 21.72.

Other winners today were: Will Barnicoat (Shrop, Windsor Slough Eton Hounslow, Trevor Raggett) in the 3000m (8:27.06), Chris Dyrmishi (Nhants, Northampton, Stuart Carlaw) in the shot (16.23m), Alex Cooper (Notts, Notts AC, Grant Barker) in the 400m (49.01), Pyers Lockwood (Sussex, Eastbourne, Trevor Simcox) in the 400m hurdles (55.08) and Alex Bernstein (Lancs, Preston, Bob Welfare) in the hammer (63.47m).

Inter girls

Bea Wood (Wiltshire, City of Salisbury, Dave Amey) already leads the UK U17 rankings for the 1500m and she was the convincing winner of that event. As yesterday in her heat, she went out hard from the gun and held on, eventually clocking 4:31.67. Any of three athletes could have taken the 800m in the last few strides but it went to Susannah Lecoutre (Surrey, Guildford & Godalming) in 2:11.78. Ruby Bell, one of the heat winners, fell on the first lap. Joy Eze (Nland, Gateshead) took another chunk off her PB as she narrowly won the 100m in 11.93. Beginning the weekend with a best of 12.22, she had improved to 12.06 in the semi-final. In the final, she edged ahead of Aleeya Sibbons (Essex, Newham & Essex Beagles, Coral Nourrice), who ran 11.99. The 200m was similarly close as Sophie Walton (Manch, Horwich) held on after a quick bend to clock a PB of 24.21, just beating rankings leader Kaliyah Young (Kent, Dartford, Clarence Callender), who closed her down to eight hundredths.

It came down to the final lap in the 3000m, where Emily Shaw (Dorset, Wimborne) kicked away over the final 200m, running 10:04.79. Emily Misantoni (Cheshire), Stockport, Joe Frost), with 43.40, moved up to second on the UK under-17 list for 300m hurdles this year, beating into second Emily Newnham (Kent, Dartford Harriers), who is still at the top. Cedelle Agyei-Kyem (Surrey, Walton, Andrew Kennard) capitalised in the 300m after close challenger Poppy Ellis fell before the line. Her winning time of 39.73 was a season’s best.

Bekki Roche (Mersey, Southport Waterloo) added nearly three metres to her PB as she took gold in the hammer with 57.83m. Also revising her PB, in her case by 4cm, was Abigail Pawlett (Cheshire, Stockport, Joe Frost), who won the long jump with 6.07m (-0.7). It was close, though, as Cleo Martin-Evans (Nhants, Daventry) was second with 5.98m.

Other winners were: Molly Hole (Wilts, City of Salisbury, Marcus Hole) in the high jump with 1.73m, Martha Collings (Surrey, Woking) in the steeplechase (5:03.82), Marli Jessop (Herts, Dacorum & Tring, Brian Hopkins) in the 80m hurdles (11.34) and Hampshire’s relay quartet (48.05).

Junior boys

Shot-putter Donovan Capes (Lincs, Nene Valley, Lewis Capes) has a lot to live up to as the grandson of former Commonwealth champion and still UK record-holder Geoff. However, he has one over already on grandad, who never won an English Schools’ title. That accolade is his after a 14.94m throw, which was 66cm better than the next best. His father and coach, Lewis, a 16m thrower himself in his heyday, would have been pleased too. Alfie Why (Dorset Schools) was just 11cm short of the championship best in the long jump, but his half-a-metre improvement on his PB was even more significant. The winner’s 6.65m was into a headwind of 1.1m/sec too.

Reece Earle (Midd, Thames Valley Harriers, Lumar Sylvester) was favourite in the 100m as he led the under-15 rankings for the year and he lived up to the billing by taking 0.02 from his PB with 11.10 (+0.4). Freddie Clemons (Warks, Stratford upon Avon, Paul Brearman) set a UK under-15 lead and PB in winning the 80m hurdles in 10.90.Emulating their female team-mates in the race before, Middlesex easily took the 4x100m title, running 44.02. Perhaps no one else in the championships took more off their PB percentage-wise than Joel Wheeler (Cornwall, Tavistock), who took more than a second off his best to win the 300m with 36.01, topping his age-group rankings. Bailey Smith (Sussex, Team Synergy, Chris Marsden) sliced more than half a second from his best as he took gold in the 200m in 22.56.

Other winners were: Dylan Menhennet (H&Wor, Forest of Dean, Andrew Compton) in the hammer (50.66m), Middlesex’s 4x100m team (44.02) and Jake Minshull (Warks, Coventry) in the 800m (2:00.75).

Junior girls

Mia McIntosh retained her 75m hurdles title in style, taking one tenth from the UK under-15 best. Her 10.75 was also a championship record - bettered only by a wind-assisted “championship best”. It was a great achievement for an athlete who started the weekend with a PB of 11.01 and it was enough to put her more than three tenths of a second in front of the rest of the field. Smashing the previous previous mark by an even bigger margin were Middlesex’s team in the 4x100m relay. Their 46.48 blew apart the 47.37 set by Surrey in 2012.

Still jumping long after everyone else had bowed out, Oakden set a championship best of 3.62m. Advancing her PB by a sizeable 17cm, she improved on the old mark of 3.55m and finished well ahead of runner-up Amelia Hatchford (Sussex, Lewes), who cleared 3.30m. Living up to her name, Success Eduan (Manchester, Sale Harriers, Anita Richardson) retained her title in the 200m, coming home more than a half a second clear and with a PB of 24.37. Emilia Rock (Bucks, Vale of Aylesbury), with her PB of 39.63 in the 300m, went to the top of the UK under-15 rankings for the year.

Just as she did in her heat yesterday, Holly Weedall (Cheshire, Vale Royal, Andrew Carter) went out into a big lead in the 1500m steeplechase final and hung on, clocking 4:34.65 to step up from bronze last year. Ella Greenaway (Humb, Cleethorpes, Joanna Evans) kicked at the bell to run a winning 2:09.59 in the 800m.

Other winners on the second day were: Jess Thompson (NYork, Harrogate, Paul Wilson) with 41.57m in the javelin, Nia Wedderburn-Goodison (Midd, Harrow) with 11.91 (+1.2) in the 100m, Olivia Austin (Hampshire, Southampton, David Callaway) in the discus (32.43m), Lily Murray (Kent, Swale Combined) in the hammer (52.93m) and Grace Wall (Beds, Bedford, Barry Johnson) in the high jump (PB 1.68m).

Thank you!

A HUGE thank you must go to our volunteer officials who helped the event run smoothly and ensured performances were accuratly measured and recorded. We couldn't have done it without you! Some of them are probably officiating again tomorrow for their local club....

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Photo by Mark Shearman