Herne Hill Struggle With Undermanned SAL Team

A dramatically undermanned team finished a distant 4th out of 4 teams at Andover, with winners Newbury scoring 242 against our 105.

This is a good quality league and we need to stay in it. The competition is good and will get the best out of us. However, as a club there is much that we need to do to in both the short and the long term. The club adopted a Charter fairly recently, after much discussion and consultation. That Charter makes it clear that as a club, we are about turning out and competing with our clubmates in the Leagues that we enter.

Each week Geoff’s group and my training group have more than 50 people on the track training. Why then can we only field 2 elite female athletes (Thank you ladies!) and 2 complete track novices from my group? Why is the 67 year old Team Manager filling in to cover the 3 MD events?

The timing of the meeting, at the beginning of the busiest exam period, demonstrated our heavy reliance on the Under 20s and Under 17s. In the future, we will be strong as these young people work through, but in the mean time we only have a handful of sprinters and jumpers in both genders at the senior level. Our throwers covered everything and even there we fielded 4 veterans out of 6 throwers. Where are our hurdlers? Where are our Polevaulters?

One possible solution is to have additional coaching for people who have an interest in doing a second event. Sprinters could be jumpers. MD athletes could be jumpers or hurdlers. This is something to be discussed within the various groups on and off the track. Feed back through your coaches to the Exec and we can make it happen.

Enough of the problems. There was a lot of to celebrate on the day with some very good performances. Starting with the ladies, Michelle Watson produced two very impressive win in the sprints with 12.8 and 26.2 into a strong headwind, winning both races with electric starts and a great pick up and acceleration phases. Chloe Tighe was impressive with terrific last laps to dominate the 800 and 1500 winning in 2.18.3 and 4.44.5. Natasha Lodge added to our tally with a B string 2nd place in the 800 and a win in the 1500 in 2.29 and 5.05.8. Louise Capicotto and Kathleen Moeller threw everything all afternoon in a competition that boasted athletes of a higher calibre than most UKWAL meetings.

As for the men’s team, the standout performance was Seb Wilson Dyer Gough’s win in the Long Jump with 6.93m; an impressive series and a good platform in his preparation for the Southerns. Seb also jumped 12.09m and ran a 23.6 200 for another two second places.

The throwers really delivered with V40 Stuart Thurgood winning the A string Shot in 12.40, V50 Garry Power getting second in the A Discus with 34.97m and Dejean Marshall Brown winning the B string with 33.96m. Stuart threw well 50.90 in the Hammer and V50 Des Austin backed him up with 26.85m for 2nd in the B string. Sean McBride threw a terrific 53.01m for a dominating Javelin win. As a unit, the male and female throwers were by far our biggest points contributers. Thank you all!

We had two youngsters covering the sprints U20 Hafiz Massaquoi and U17 Sindiso Weir. Both ran very close to their PBs against very strong head winds. Both guys were fearless in their efforts against fields where they were generally the youngest competitors. They ran 12. And 12.9 respectively and Sandiso ran 26.2 in a gutsy 200.

The middle distance events were populated by novices and the elderly. Joanthan Gomes ran an impetuous first lap of 62 secs in the 800 and had to hold on grimly to finish in 2.19. He ran a steadier, solo 1500 in 5.07.8. While in the 3k, the equally novice Henry Brown ran a solo 10.41, which is pretty much the same pace as his Parkrun best of 18 mins or so. So good judgement shown there. The B string slots were filled by the pensionable team manager, who managed to neatly fill the maximum time allocated for each race on the timetable.

Finally a big thank you to Steve Bosley, Gloria Marshall, Ivor Northey and Geoff Jerwood who gave up yet another day in the service of the club and athletes. Well done to all those who went and without exception, stepped out of their comfort zones in terms events to maximise our point tally.

Steve Knight

Team Manager