A new 4 x 400m club record could not mask a disappointing opening to the British Athletics League season for Herne Hill Harriers as the Tooting-based club finished sixth out of eight teams.
The highlight of a difficult day at Eton was the performances of Harriers’ 400m quartet, as Peter Phillips (48.1), Blade Ashby (49.1), debutante Isaac Ogunlade (48.7) and Nicholas Atwell (47.15) combined to clock 3:13.08 to revise a club record.
Harriers had earlier performed well in the track events of the division one fixture, but it was the field events that let the club down. Lewis Lloyd followed a fourth place in the 800m race with second in the 1500m A race. Mike Cummings won the B-string 1500m and Blade Ashby was second in the A race of the 400m hurdles. As well as good 200m running, courtesy of Dwayne Dowding (fourth in the A race, clocking 21.67) and Jamal Rhoden-Stevens (fourth in the B race in 21.80), Herne Hill’s 400m men ran superbly, with Atwell fifth in the A race with 48.33 and Phillips second in the B event in 48.23. Harriers’ 100m relay team of Rhoden-Stevens, Byron Robinson, Dowding and Idris Ojuriye were a good third in their race.
Meanwhile, two new HCA team members, 17-year-old Charlie Maw and Sean Hall, made their mark too, as Maw was a brilliant second in the A pole vault, calmly clearing 4.20m in weather conditions that were unhelpful to any event, least of all the vault, while Hall will have learned from his first experience of racing at this level following his fifth in the 800m B race.
Michael Wheeler continued his encouraging start to the season, placing third in the A-string shot with 15.51m, and Tayo Andrews also coped well in weather that saw his event temporarily suspended, as he cleared 1.90m to finish fifth in the A high jump. Although only picking up sixth-place points, Irishman Mark Dooley ran a personal best in the A race of the 3000m, while Jonathan Stead was fourth in the B race.
Herne Hill women’s squad also had a taxing opening to their season as they travelled to Cardiff for a Women’s League division two fixture. Notable performances included Michelle Watson (fifth in the 100m and 200m), Steph Mitchell (sixth in the 400m and fifth in the 800m), Karen Ellison (fourth in the 3000m). Elizabeth Acossi was one of Harriers’ busiest athletes competing in the 200m, high jump and triple jump, with second place in the latter event her best finish. Briony Phillips was sixth in the shot and discus events, and seventh in the javelin.
Several Herne Hill athletes were in action at the Highgate Harriers Night of the PBs. Simon Coombes and Tim Elsey had to settle for season’s best performances only as they clocked 33.27 and 34.48 respectively in the first race of five. Away from the track, John Kettle won the Sutton 10k in 33.42, with Rob Edwards posting a personal best of 35.16 in ninth. Ros Kieran finished first woman at the Dulwich parkrun in 17.13.