Herne Hill Harriers’ senior men’s squad kept alive their hopes of remaining in division one of the British Athletics League with a battling performance at Tooting Bec.
Gavin Johnson-Assoon (javelin) was an individual winner, while Tayo Andrews (high jump), Blade Ashby (400m hurdles), Peter Phillips (400m) and Rushane Thomas (110m hurdles) all claimed second places in A-string events as Harriers ended the fixture fourth out of eight clubs.
The result moved Harriers up to fifth in the overall standings following three of four matches and the Tooting-based club look set to avoid relegation if they can replicate Saturday’s performance in the final fixture at Lee Valley on August 9.
The prospects for Herne Hill’s senior women’s team are bleak, however, with the team facing certain relegation to the third division of the UK Women’s Athletics League (UKWAL) after finishing last in the latest round of competition at Portsmouth.
Despite the disappointment, there was individual success for Briony Phillips who threw a season’s best 36.36m in the discus, securing her fourth place, while she was fourth in the shot and seventh in the javelin. Cathy Ansell also impressed in the 3000m, clocking 10:03.6 in finishing third in the A race.
Further afield, junior international Marvin Popoola’s tilt at an U20 club record was again thwarted by the weather as he clocked 20.92 over 200m in the Bauhaus Juniorengala in Mannheim, Germany. The time would have been a club record had the wind reading not been over the legal limit at +2.7 m/s. Popoola’s legal best remains 21.34.
Popoola’s time would have comfortably won the A-string 200m at Tooting Bec, where Dwayne Dowding finished fourth in 21.66. Dowding was not alone in finishing narrowly outside the top-three, as Lewis Lloyd in the 800m and Michael Dyer in the 1500m found a similar fate. Andy Maud fared better, finishing third in a competitive 5000m in 14:31.74, while Thomas Ashby was third in the discus. Harriers were also third in a rousing 4x400m relay, with the squad of Phillips, Dyer, Isaac Ogunlade and Nicholas Atwell outrunning Blackheath and Bromley by eight hundredths of a second.
Success in the relay came after Atwell had won the B string 400m and Ogunlade had finished third in the 400m hurdles. Other top-three finishers in B races were Byron Robinson (third in the 200m), Dyer (third in the 800m), Mike Cummings (third in the 1500m), John Tayleur (third in the 3000m steeplechase) and Thomas Ashby (second in the 110m hurdles). Allandre Johnson was a clear winner in the B javelin, throwing 57.47, the second longest throw of any competitor in the A or B categories.
The standings in the division one table are perilously close, with Kent AC in third and Gateshead in eighth separated by just a few points. Herne Hill lie fifth, but need a full-strength team in the final fixture at Lee Valley next month if they are to survive at this tier of national athletics.
While there was less glory for the women’s squad, there were reasons to believe that the group can bounce back next year. Beyond Phillips and Ansell, Michelle Watson again impressed in the sprint events, finishing sixth in the 100m and fifth in the 200m. Hannah Edwards was third in the 800m and Steph Mitchell fifth in the 1500m. Louise Capicotto was a creditable second in the B-string discus. The combined efforts were not enough to prevent relegation, however, with Harriers now propping up division two.
Although they are several years off competing at senior level, Herne Hill’s junior girls gave the club hope for the future with a string of impressive results at the English Schools Track and Field Cup at Bedford.
Racing for Putney High, Alex Brown won the JG 1500m in 4:44.8 – a time that would have placed her third in the UKWAL A race – and was later pictured with Sebastian Coe. Jess Collins, another Putney pupil, won the JG high jump with a leap of 1.47m. JAGS’ girls Lucy Olsen and Catriona McSorley also won the JG 800m and the IG hurdles respectively.
Away from the track, Jonny Muir was fifth at the Bewl 15 in Kent, clocking one hour, 33 minutes, 20 seconds. Jonathan Ratcliffe was 15th (and fourth V45) in a time of 1.37.39. Mike Boyle was the pick of Herne Hill’s parkrun athletes, clocking 16.56 in finishing second at Dulwich Park.
A frenetic weekend of activity followed a successful midweek for Harriers, with a team victory at the Dulwich Runners Midsummer 5k and a number of promising performances at the Rosenheim League East Division fixture at Battersea, which acted as warm-up for the UKWAL event in particular. Mitchell won the 800m in 2:20.49 and Ansell clocked 4:50 in the 3000m, her first track race in two years. For the men, Jonathan Stead won the 1500m in 4:13.7, Jack Hillier was second in the 800m in 1:58.08 and Jordan Maurice ran 9:24 for 3000m. On the same evening, Dyer ran 1:53 over 800m in the Belfast International, before travelling to London for the BAL fixture.
Alan Barnes took the individual plaudits at the Midsummer 5k (held this year in Brockwell Park) winning in 16.26. Robin Jones and Muir were third and sixth respectively, meaning Harriers retained their team award from 2013.
The focus this Saturday turns to the final round of the Southern Men’s League at Tooting, with Harriers currently lying fourth and hoping for a top-three finish in what is a home fixture.
The Great Britain & Northern Ireland team for the World Junior (Under 20) Champs in Eugene, Oregon, USA from 22th-27th July was announced today and Marvin Popoola of Herne Hill Harriers was named in the sprint relay (4 x 100m) team squad.
This coming weekend also sees a strong contingent of Herne Hill young athletes competing at the English Schools Championship in Birmimgham, nicknamed the “Kids Olympics”.