YDL Upper Sportcity

YDL UPPER – Sport City 26th May 2019.

Dave Greenwood.

How keen are you ?

 When faced with a Bank Holiday weekend slap bang in exam revision time there is a dilemma not faced by other age groups. When the morning dawns cold, blustery with that fine drizzle that permeates everything, soaking you to the skin it’s tempting to have a duvet day.

Every person who turned out today should be congratulated for being there filling a space and earning at least a point for the club. There was such a diverse collection of people too; ranging from a Millfield School boarder, to those from Inner city Manchester. All count the same- a point or more for the club. Together this team came to turn second place in the last match to first today by a ninety point margin. That’s a brilliant improvement.

Sale Harriers are lucky to have such dedicated and knowledgeable coaches but they can only work with what is in front of them. Today they had plenty to work with. I see them work on a group who then grow up move to University or find juggling demanding jobs too much and they’re replaced by another bunch and the coach starts again. In praise of them all this alliance involves passion and commitment, rather like turning out today. This victory is for the coaches as well as the athletes.

The day didn’t start too well with the gloomy weather matched by Preston opening a forty point lead. Were they going to win again? As the events rolled on with less spaces unfilled we climbed the points table and bridged the gap. The less noticed throwers plugged away with wins for Emma Lowe in Hammer B with a 3rd for Hannah Blood in a contest where three threw well over 50m. Mia Gibbons, an ever loyal club athlete took victory in the B javelin. Nathan Booth won u20 Hammer. Ella Wilson had a good day winning Long Jump, High Jump B, and coming second in the Javelin. Scarlett Whittaker having won the B Hurdles also took the Shot B.

At the other end of the stadium Matt Cullen’s Pole vaulters won their duels, in less than ideal conditions for flying almost four metres. Sophie Ashurst didn’t panic after some early hiccups and got herself an outdoor p.b. of 3.90m. She was backed up by Amy Haslam in 2nd and Lucie Wolfenden winning the U20B with Brook Whyatt winning the U17B. Arron Thomas and Jacob Thompson took both U17 High Jump victories to complete a good day in the field.

The sprinters got to work. Head up, tall, drive, encouraged the voice of coach. The green marker pen of team manager Sarah worked overtime adjusting between calls to check if people were on their way.’ I don’t like the mess – I like it neat.’ Dave encouraged and explained with half a mind on tomorrow and the task of compiling a Northern league team. At this point the writer decides to help with an attempt at a report as he’s spinning plates. I don’t know everyone well enough to know who has excelled themselves but I recognise many from my last YDL Upper two years ago and some who I last saw as boys and girls in the lower age group. How they’ve matured in every way.

Wins for Williamson-Taylor in u20 100B and Shonibare Rukayatu 100/200 and Regan walker in the 200, were matched by Marcus Mclean 100/200 and Ben Basten 100b in the u17 age group. In the U17 women’s Praise Owoeye  took 100/200 double with Oyinkonsola Dare winning the 100B. The Hammer cage was by now occupied by the same throwers this time doing Discus which didn’t seem to be anyone’s specialism but they were giving it their best.

The 400 and 300 on the track is said to be one of the toughest events in the sport. Too exhausting for the sprinters to keep the pace going but not long enough for the distance runners. We’ve had some real talent in this event over the years. This was continued by Thomas Baines and Rory Keen who also won the 400H. Mia Gibbons won the 400B and Jotham Benabeni won the U17 400.

The announcer revealed we had taken the lead. I found myself willing any vest to be in front of the blue of Preston if it was not Sale. The North Wales composite team were putting in a good performance on the track and seemed a much better team than when I last saw them and Liverpool seem to have gone a bit the other way since they dominated a decade or more ago when KJT  was a youngster. It reminds us of how high the standard is at these events and the effort it takes from many people to maintain positions year on year.

 A clash with the elite BMC event the night before meant a number of very good middle distance runners were not available but there were still some good performances as Shaun Gee won the 800 matched by Aidan Lynch in the U17. Multi eventer Shayon Fryer-Francis won the u20 Long Jump by a centimetre! She went on to win the U17 80m Hurdles with Scarlett Whittaker winning the B race and also won the Shot. The effervescent DJ Pedro won the 100H had a hand in the 4x100 victory and scored points in the Javelin. Emmanuel Johnson won the 100H B race.

Over ‘the Barriers’ a tremendous show of courage from our athletes saw four out of six girls in the steeplechase. Beth Thornton dug deep having competed the night before, just edging out Alice Stiles who is new to the event, both girls ran very well. Despite taking a ducking Millie Chambers took maximum  points in the SC 1500 B with Jasmine Stockton coming second in the A race. Valuable points were also gained in the men’s Steeplechase by Ben Dargan who won the B  and Alex James third in the A but beat the Preston athlete.

Finally the event always finishes with relays.

We won both men’s U20 Relays and both women’s runners up.

We won both men’s U17 relays and the Women’s 4 x 100.

What did I learn from this event?

Athletics is still exciting with some high levels of skill at this level.

Coaches and their relationships with athletes are like Gold dust!

Commitment is key, not just on the day but for improvement.

Mental toughness to come back after injury or disappointment is a great life skill.

A lot goes on behind the scenes we don’t always see.

Beating your nearest rivals, even to come third over fourth wins competitions. Filling as many berths as possible brings victory closer.

Personal improvement helps the team.

Sale as a club have a lot of good people involved.

Everyone is important!