The combined events will take centre stage again in Sheffield as more than 100 athletes compete in the England Athletics U15/U17 Combined Events Indoor Championships on Saturday and Sunday.
Many athletes will be vying for their first national titles as the under-17 men take part in the heptathlon and the rest focus on the indoor pentathlon at the English Institute of Sport Arena.
U17 women’s pentathlon
Last year’s English School North East Schools champion, Frances Hogg (City of York; Craig Pounder), lines up with the best score this winter with her 3336 from December. Scotland’s Jenna Hilditch should challenge her, having scored 3271. Another looking to get on the podium is Abi Belward (Winchester; Andrew Fisher), who won the under-15 England title outdoors last summer and the Southern gold this winter. Northern Ireland’s Ashleigh McArdle, who won the Irish under-18 title this winter, will travel across the Irish Sea with high hopes. Tallulah Ndikanwu (Blackheath & Bromley; Jay Galley), who won bronze at the Southern Championships, should also be in the mix.
U17 men’s heptathlon
James Harney (East Cheshire; Alexander Worth), who was fifth at the England Championships outdoors last summer, will be among the favourites in his second year in the age group. With his 4206 from the Scottish Championships, he is best of the entries on paper. Demari Gumbs, is next best after his 4103 to win at the Southerns. He was fourth in the 60m hurdles individually at the recent England Athletics age group championship and he should also score well in the 60m. Joe Stone, last year’s under-15 England octathlon champion, steps up an age group. He opened his winter with a Schools International (SIAB) win over Sam Wright, last year’s English Schools champion, who is another who will be in Sheffield. Northern Ireland’s Finn O’Neill, who scored very highly on the UK all-time under-15 rankings, is another contender.
Under-15 girls’ pentathlon
Scotland’s Victoria Anestik will start the competition top of the national rankings so far this winter with her 3193 from the SIAB in December. Fourth in the England Championships as a first-year under-15 last summer, she will be a strong bet for a medal in her new age group. Matilda Quick is next best on this season’s scores with her 2987, while fellow Welsh athlete Megan Taylor was third best at the SIAB behind those two. Rebecca Wright (Woodford Green with Essex Ladies; Tony Jarrett) scored 2959 to win the Southern title at Lee Valley, so will be another good challenger. Also in action will be Rebekah Smith (New Forest Juniors), who won silver on that occasion. Senna Gorvett (Blyth), who won bronze at the Scottish Championships behind Anestik, is back to challenge her again.
Under-15 boys’ pentathlon
Luke Pichler (Blyth; Daniel Njai-Rowney), who won both the long jump and 60m hurdles individual events at this winter’s England age-group championships, will be looking for yet more silverware. He tops this winter’s UK rankings with his 2835 score from the Scottish Championships. Behind Pichler, Ruben Stovell (Hallamshire; Julia Johnson) was the best first-year under-15 from England last summer and he will be also looking to show his winter’s improvement here. Another to watch for is Scotland’s James Clark, who was second on 2638 in the Scottish Championships. Stephen Adesina (Thurrock; Karl Sumun), who has won the South of England title this winter, is another strong contender.