Youth Development League Victory for Herne Hill

Herne Hill Harriers youngsters joined the return to athletics league action after almost two years absence and won their first Youth Development league match of the season at Sutton Arena on Saturday. Following the Covid lockdowns at least a quarter of the team were taking part in their first ever athletics competition and the whole team performed with excellence to show great promise for the future in this fixture for the under 13 and under 15 age groups. 

The level of consistency amongst performances augurs well for the future of the club after a difficult period when the track facilities have been closed and youngsters have had to improvise with training on Tooting Common and Streatham Common.  

Two of the clubs most exciting young athletes are shot putters. Alex Abebrese and Victoria Alicante King both won southern indoor titles two years ago just before the pandemic began. Denied any opportunities to compete in championships last year both are now preparing for the English Schools championships and won their events with big PBs. Abebrese threw with 15.23m and Alicante King 12.54m.

There were also high quality performances from Luca Anderson (12.1) and Jordan Ebanks (12.2) in the U15 boys 100m. 

Event winners on the day for Herne Hill included A and B string wins for Sophia Sahai (2.22.7) and Abbey Jeffcoat (2.27.7) in the U15 girls 800m, with Sahai also winning the javelin with 24.45m. Caspian Holmes (3.56.5) and Dylan Gillies (3.58.4) won the U13 boys 1200m and Orla Wright (4.01.8) and Sophie Jack (4.06.5) in U13 girls 1200m. Ella Rennie and Amelia Simon won the U13 girls 75m and long jump with PBs in both events, all being major contributors to an all round team effort to ensure the match win.

By contrast, the first ever combined men’s and women’s National League match for the club at Chelmsford on Sunday saw a very depleted turnout, albeit the other competing clubs also appeared to struggle to muster full teams as league competition starts to re-emerge. Despite this there were some excellent individual performances among the Harriers who did make the trip.

Event winners from Herne Hill were Isaac Ogunlade in the men’s A string 400m hurdles with 56.06, Fiona de Mauny the women’s A 800m in 2:13.64, Bryn Reynolds the men’s A 3000m in 9:37.07,  Katie Balme the women’s A 1500m in a PB 4:48.44, U20 Chyna Stewart the women’s A triple jump with 10.57m and Jeff Cunningham the men’s B 3000m with 10:07.29.

Bryn’s wife Gaby Reynolds ran her first track race for 18 years and her first ever track 3000m for second A string place in 10:19.89, while Mike Cummings doubled at 800m and 1500m, placing third in the men’s A 800m in 2:01.55 and second in the A 1500m in 4:14.52. Cunningham had a busy afternoon helping to fill the team with his third in the men’s A 3000m steeplechase in 10:46.54, following up with third in the men’s B 1500m in 4:42.39 and finally his men’s B 3000m win. Ogunlade was also third in the men’s A 400m in 50.45.

In the absence of any male sprinters the Herne Hill females fielded a young team with U20 Niyah Costley third in the A 100m in 12.46, also fourth in the A long jump, U17 Saskia King was second in the B 100m and 200m in 12.41 and 26.08 respectively and Stewart followed up her triple jump win with fourth in the A 200m in 28.69. These three combined well with another U17 Nevaeh Ricketts to run a good 4 x 100m relay time of 50.03 despite placing fourth among the strong sprint competition on the day.

On Wednesday there were good performance at the Hercules Wimbledon meeting in Wimbledon Park. Phoebe Anderson ran a big 3000m PB 9:35.55 to move up to fourth in the British under 20 women’s rankings for the year to date, closing in on the qualifying time for the European Junior Championships.

Lewis Laylee also ran a PB, clocking 8:33.58. Jack Brotchie targeted sub 9 minutes in his 3000m race and a strong final km brought it home with 8:57.18. Nick Bester tested his marathon legs and clocked 9:08.58, while Martha Reynolds in her first track race for a few years recorded 10:42.57.

As well as Anderson, another under 20 from Wayne Vinton’s training group Poppy Craig-McFeely claimed a good 1500m PB 4:35.84 and Kate Brown also ran a 1500m PB with 4:46.72.

In road running there were two good race performances by Herne Hill women in Battersea Park on Saturday morning in the RunThrough 5km road race as Sophie Harris was eighth overall and first woman in 17:02, heading back towards form and Hannah Edwards ran superbly to place seventh woman and smash her sub 20 minutes target with 19:22.

Geoff Jerwood