Class acts on record breaking second day of U17 and U15 Champs

Day two of the England Athletics U17 and U15 Age group champs continued where day one left off – with a string of meeting records, ranking-topping performances, eye-catching marks and, more importantly, intense competition highlighting the strength in depth this meeting displays.

While records were the order of the day on the Saturday, few felt any championships best performances would be beaten on a very wet Bedford track. Surely it was just too grim to chase best-ever performances? Tell that to the athletes, who were keen to show the class of 2018 is definitely one to to watch.

Morgan Squibb (Blackheath & Bromley, Andy Frankish) clearly had a fast time in her game plan for the U17 women’s 1500 steeplechase. Straight to the front from the gun, Squibb eased further and further ahead thanks to a 75sec opening quarter mile, eventually stopping the clock at 4:59.26 for a championships best performance, looking full of running.

Jeslyn Agyei-Kyem (Walton, Andrew Kennard) was as dominant and as relaxed looking, leading a double win for Walton AC in the U15 300s, taking the girls race in a CBP of 39.96, while clubmate George Sudderick (Walton, Andrew Kennard) won the boys’ gold with 35.84.

The fast running didn’t stop there. A year ago European U18 champion Max Burgin (Halifax, Ian/Brian Burgin) clocked a meeting record just outside 1:50; now, far swifter in 2018, he ripped through 400m in 52.7 and followed that with a 56.5 for his latest record: 1:49.21.

A man also with records on his mind, picking up where he left off on day one in the high jump, Dominic Ogbechie (Highgate, Marius Guei/Carol Jackson) opened the U17 boys long jump with a 7.30 effort to secure gold and confirm his dominance in the event. Every one of his jumps was more than 7-metres and in fact only he has gone further this season with his 7.53 indoors. On this occasion, however, even Ogbechie had to concede beating the meeting record of 7.50 was just a little too tough given the conditions he faced – just about the wettest point of the day.

Indeed, his last jump coincided with the cancellation of the U17 women’s pole vault, such was the intensity of the rain, but not before Pedro Gleadall (Blackheath and Bromley, Neil Gleadall) and Jacob Clark (Notts, Maxine Robins) shared the U17 men’s gold with 4.21. After that it was rightly ruled that conditions were just too dangerous and hopefully it will be rescheduled for a few weeks time.

The U15 boys and girls 800s were also pretty much carbon copies even down to the bell time – 65.2 in the girls race and 65.1 for the boys. In both races the leader at the bell – Alice Brown (Havering, Patrick Gahagan) and Dylan McBride (Willowfield H, Lawson Cochrane) – surged hard down the back straight, the tightly grouped field following closely behind. In the boys’ race, McBride hung on (2:04.60), his legs visibly folding in the final few strides while Victoria Lightbody (City of Lisburn, Andrea Anderson) passed a tiring Brown in the final 10-metres to take gold in the girls race with 2:14.65.

It was a much more clear cut affair for Jasmine Jolly (Preston H, Peter Crook) who turned her one lap hurdle strength (she was 5th in the European U18 400) into 300H success in the U17 event with a very controlled 42.99, encouragingly close to her best of 42.21 given the pouring rain.

As athletes were to report all day, winning had to involve coping with conditions, superbly highlighted by Phoebe Baggott (W&B, Steve Pearson) who, despite the increasingly wet circle, hauled the hammer out to a PB of 60.30 in the fourth round, after three dry rounds, to add the U17 title to her U15 gold from a couple of years ago.

The U17 men’s event also featured a significant throw as Kenneth Ikeji (Basildon, Paul Head) threw a huge 69.94 – fabulous in the tricky conditions and good enough to make the No1 spot in the country by more than a metre and a massive personal best. Who needs perfect conditions!

Not Marcia Sey (Croydon, Lorna Boothe) as she won the U17 girls 80H in 11.14, just 0.02 off her best. Likewise, Freddie Fraser (NVH, Alan Sims) was in the form of his life to win the U15 boys 80H in 10.91, seemingly oblivious to the rain and the problems it could potentially create a short sprint event like the hurdles. He flew out of the blocks to dip inside 11-seconds for the first time.

Finally, Daniel Knight (Enfield & Haringey, Brian Hopkins) clocked a massive PB to take the U17 men’s 100H in 13.00, fully 0.3 better than his previous best, out-leaning the UK’s No.1 Jordan Ricketts (Birchfield, Anthony Pitt) on the line.

Of course, raising your game is a handy trait to have on days like this, precisely the skill Max Leslie (Edinburgh, Bill Walker) demonstrated. He went into the U17 men’s 400 second string at best to Oliver Briars (Blackheath & Bromley, Jay Galley) but thanks to a strong final straight, it was the Scot who emerged with the gold, his 49.64 just a tick shy of his lifetime best.

After taking the U15 boys’ 100m on day one in a very swift 10.84, all eyes were on Remi Jokosenumi (Shaftesbury Barnet, Ty Holden) as the 200 is his better event. He won in 22.90 but eased comfortably ahead by 50m and had it in the bag by the time he entered the straight. No fast times on this occasion, but nonetheless impressive. There will be warmer, drier days for the London athlete.

Sophie Walton (Horwich RMI, Trevor Williams) had to fight a little harder in the final few strides of her race, but the result was the same and she also doubled up, taking the U15 girls’ 200 in 25.50.

Talking of doubles multi eventer Ella Rush (Amber Valley and Erewash, Michael Baker) took an early lead in the U15 girls long jump with 5.48 to add the national title to the indoor pentathlon gold she won earlier this year. Later in the afternoon, she then won the high jump with 1.65 followed by three honest attempts at 1.69 in the pouring rain to make it a very memorable weekend.

In the disability event arguably the best performances, especially given the difficult conditions in the circle came women’s ambulant shot. This was won by Lydia Church (Nene Valley) with a mark of 10.54 (870 Raza point) ahead of the 8.67 (848 Raza points) of Emily Stewart (Gateshead Harriers).

With the wheelchair events understandably affected by the conditions among those repeatedly battling the conditions were Andrew Greer (Torque AC, T54, 18.19, 34.45, 68.56), Thomas Miller (Harlow, T34, 22.94, 44.89, 75.06), Jamie Edwards (Weir AA, T34, 19.05, 38.48), Nathan Freeman (Worthing & District, T34, 22.94, 45.79) and Pierce Reynolds (Dacorum & Tring, T54, 25.60, 54.26) who were all in action in the shorter distances with Greer, Miller and Reynolds also in action and sharing the medals in the 1500.