Herne Hill Harriiers men’s first team began our 2015 British Athletics League season finishing 8th out of 8 teams in our opening fixture at Eton, 18 points adrift of the 7th placed team Cardiff. Our squad now find ourselves up against it to try to avoid relegation, but with 3 more matches remaining we aim to move ourselves up the league table provided we can field strong teams now on all of the relevant dates.
Although our overall result was disappointing every team member’s performance was very much appreciated and our team still contained some fine quality in a few events with Peter Phillips winning the A 400m race in an excellent PB of 47.51 in windy weather while Gavin Johnson Assoon emulated this with a clear win in the A javelin with a PB 67.23m. Our third A string winner was under 20 athlete Tayo Andrews with a 2.00m clearance in the high jump.
National under 23 champion from 2014 Blade Ashby placed 2nd in the A 400m hurdles, while Isaac Ogunlade was 3rd in the B string of that event. Michael Dyer combined well with Mike Cummings to double up over 800 and 1500 and also ran a battling leg in the 4 x 400m relay. Michael’s 3rd in the A 800m with a 55 second last lap following a 60 first lap was an impressive opening race to his season. In the 3000m over 40 veteran Simon Coombes ran a great PB of 8.56.4, while by contrast in the B string under 20 Nathan Bekele also lowered his PB to 9.14.6.
Our higher claim under 20 pole vaulter Charlie Maw was 4th in his A string with a 4.00m clearance in a difficult wind. The sprint races were very strong and Idris Ojuriye found the A string races tough against a host of international fast men, but another of our youngsters, under 17 Jevonni McFarlane ran a wind assisted PB of 22.5 in the B string 200m and not over awed being pitted against a couple of internationals.
Alongside Gavin in the throws, our team welcomed back 56 year old John Maitland in the hammer, 4 years after he last threw the implement, although he wasn’t our oldest team member as over 60 Andy Lea Gerrard helped ensure our B shot and javelin were not left empty, while other over 50’s Des Austin and Garry Power competed in more than their usual throwing events with others missing on the day.
Team wise it all wasn’t enough to avoid a bottom of the table position as things stand, but does tell us we still have at least a fighting chance if this spirit can be combined with the expected return of our other top sprinters, 400m men, a high hurdler and some strengthening in the throws and horizontal jumps. But our next match at Southampton on 6th June may well be our D Day for this season as we shall need a significant improvemement in our all round fortunes.
Elsewhere in United States collegiate competition, top sprinter and club under 20 long jump record holder Jonathan Grant, now in the under 23 age group ran a big 100m PB of 10.54 in the Akron Campbell/Wright Invitational meeting on Saturday. Jonathan’s time suggests a threat to our club senior record currently held by fellow under 23 Marvin Popoola, who is yet to open his outdoor season. Jonathan also produced a leap of 7.17m in the long jump and it will be interesting to see how far he can jump as well as how fast he can run this summer.