England Athletics U17 and U15 Combined Event Championships: Day 1

Only the brave will predict the destination of the four gold medals and national titles on offer in Manchester, but there were more than enough amazing performances to suggest it will take something very special indeed to secure that top slot.

Day one is about laying down the foundations in a Combined Events Championships and there were some pretty solid bases constructed. Day two will definitely be something to savour.

Here’s why and here’s how day one unfolded:

U15 girls’ hexathlon

The rarely-contested hexathlon got under way with the 75m Hurdles and it was Evie Elliott (Coach: Matt Cullen, Club: Bury) who made the early running thanks to her 11.51 win (733 points), a huge improvement on her previous best of 11.70. Behind her, barely 0.10sec covered the chasing pack which was led by Milana Thorpe (Steve Mitchell, Chelmsford), who ran 11.59, while Molly Mills (Jessica Taylor-Jemmett, Stockport Harriers) clocked 11.61.

It was all change however after the long jump - with Antonia Brockley (Annan and District AC) beating Victoria Chapman (Linda Nicholson, Border Harriers and AC) by just 1cm with 5.04m but 3 vital points. In front of them in the overall rankings, Amelie Scott (Steve Mitchell, Chelmsford) moved from fourth to the lead thanks to her 4.97m jump. And just three points back was Mills after her 4.88m.

Molly Mills long jump

The javelin was the final event of the day and it shuffled the field once again as Mills took the lead overall thanks to her 32.06m throw. Behind her, the number one ranked javelin thrower in the country, Elise Christian (Guildford and Godalming) emerged from the pack and a distant 13 to move into second as a result of her monster 40.12m in the final round.

Elise Christian javelin

U17 women’s heptathlon

If the damp conditions were any hindrance to the athletes, it wasn’t obvious as the early favourites all looked comfortable in the 80m hurdles. Isabelle Mardle (Keith Yellop, City of Norwich) seized an early lead thanks to her 11.64 (849 points), while Kira Jones (Kendal) was in close contention just a stride back in 11.67. Eve Drury (Matt Barton, Leeds City) followed with a huge PB of 11.76, while the England indoor champion, Zoe Gregory (Sam Harrison, Basildon) kept in touch thanks to her PB of 11.91m. This promised to be tight-fought contest and so it proved.

In the next event, the high jump, Drury was in PB form once again, this time clearing 1.59m at the second time of asking, an improvement of 3cm. It meant she eased into pole position just ahead of Gregory who also cleared 1.59m while Jones followed in third as a result of her 1.56m clearance. Gregory, however, found her consistency late in the day and recorded a big distance in the shot when it mattered most – her last effort was measured at 12.61m and she took the lead overall.

U17 women's heptathlon 200m

The final event of the day, the 200m saw Gregory run a competitive 25.82 as four crossed the line together. She held a 63-point lead.

U15 boys’ octathlon

The two opening heats of the 100m were almost identical in that Matejus Varnelis (Leeds City) powered to a commanding lead after just 40 metres, running through the line full of power in 12.35, easily his best ever. Next up, Oliver Downs (Alex Pope, Invicta East Kent) was just 0.05sec shy of his best with an equally commanding looking 12.05; good for 641pts and the overall lead.

The next event, the pole vault, always plays a significant role especially in this age group where athletes often have only just taken up the discipline. It was Nathan Mobbs (Paul Brindley, North Ayrshire AC) who emerged as the leader after two events as the result of his 3.63m clearance.

Mobbs retained the lead after he threw 35.88m in the javelin, but behind him Downs closed the gap to just 36 points. He threw 44.71m with his last throw, close to two metres further than his nearest competitors, to ease into the silver medal position just 11 points ahead of Zak Williams (Havering) who had been quietly going about his business with 12.71, 3.13m and 42.72m.

Oliver Downs javelin

The day concluded with the 400m, which perfectly mirrored the opening event, the 100m six hours earlier. Varnelis crossed the line first in heat A as he had done in the morning before Downs won his race with a PB of 54.94 to take a 113-point lead over Mobbs into Sunday.

U17 men’s decathlon

Predicting the destination of the gold medal will always a long shot after just one event, but certainly the winners of each 100m heat all looked good for different reasons. Arthur Reilly (Trevor Fox, City of Sheffield and Dearne) won the first heat and clearly is in great form as he scorched to 11.71, far faster than his previous best of 13.34. Also keen to demonstrate fitness was William Alexander (Michael Dyer, Reading) as he looked completely in control on his way to a PB of 11.65. Good running from the bronze medallist in the U15s from two years ago. Welshman, Luca Phillips (Philip Warwicker, Cardiff Archers) concluded three excellent heats with an 11.41 and 771 points to head the field. He then stretched that lead after the long jump as a result of his 6.78m in the final round, while Toby Wright (Steve Shaw, Taunton) followed up his 11.48 opening 100m with a 6.63m opening jump, a PB which moved him into second.

The shot hinted that perhaps that first event four hours earlier could be used a reliable guide as Phillips maintained his top slot after throwing 10.50. That was a PB, although appearing on the radar was Luke Pichler (Rob Wilson, Blyth) who hit 12.30, his first time beyond 12 metres as he closed the gap to just two points. That and his 11.57 for 100m and 6.44m long jump saw him creep ever nearer to the lead.

Corey Beechall High Jump

But the high jump saw a shuffle of the pack as Corey Beechall (Alexander Wort, Liverpool Harriers and AC) scaled 1.89m to overhaul the early leaders and head to the 400-metre start line in pole position. He then retained that lead thanks to a superb PB of 51.78.


Report by Paul Larkins. Photos by Paul Halford