Mansfield Harriers’ senior track and field athletes continued a disappointing start to the 2011 summer season with action in both the British Athletics League and Midland Track and Field League.
With the club still trying to secure a usage agreement to enable them to return to full training at their Berry Hill Park headquarters, the strains have begun to show as morale becomes harder to maintain.
Harriers entered their second season in the prestigious British League with a trip to Bournemouth and, despite some valiant efforts on the day, finished in sixth spot, just 13 and a half points behind fourth place.
Danny Barkes produced the only win of the day, taking the 1500m in 4:03.59, having earlier run hard in a close fought 800m – Barkes finishing third in this in a time of 1:54.88. Chris Brown picked up useful points in the B string of these two events – running 1:57.11 to take second in the 800m and 4:14.78 for third over 1500m.
Greg Millar and Matt Woolley challenged for maximum points in the javelin, both coming out in second spot with best throws of 56.96m and 47.82m respectively. Woolley also took fourth spot in the discus with best throws of 12.79m and 36.43m.
Connor McHale, still in his first year as a junior athlete, rose to the pressure to take second spot in the pole vault with a clearance at 3.40m.
Adam Sansom and Stef Wilcockson both produced season’s best performances over the 400m hurdles, continuing their friendly rivalry with just six 100ths separating them – Sansom clocking 57.59 and Wilcockson 57.65.
Sam Cordin, Martin Cook and Paul Wright all turned out in the individual sprints with injury unfortunately hitting Cook prior to the 4x400m relay where Cordin and Wright were joined by Chris Brown and Danny Barkes to take second place in 3:22.26.
New signing Hadan Brittain picked up useful points in the throws with other members of the team on the day being Jonny Newell, Stuart King, Andy Norton and Martin White.
Harriers also had to travel a long way south for their Midland League fixture in Yate and, with this match clashing with the BAL fixture, numbers were always set to be thin on the ground.
Chloe Elphick produced the performance of the day, her triple jump of 11.11m taking victory and giving her the English Schools qualifying distance that had eclipsed her so far this season. She also took second spot in the long jump, won the B string pole vault, threw 23.99m with the javelin and completed her day with the second leg of the 4x400m relay.
Charlotte Gair threw over 40 metres for the first time this season to take victory in the discus with a best throw of 40.61m, also taking third in the B string hammer and fourth in the shot.
Claire Beaumont joined her in these three throws, finishing second in the hammer with a best of 42.35m before going on to run the third leg of the 4x400m relay.
Becky Smith started her day with victory in the pole vault, ran 60.7 over 400m, took third in the 100m with 13.9, third in the B string javelin and then ran legs of both relays.
Amie Grainger ran on the track for the first time this season and marked her debut as a senior by competing in her maximum of seven events.
The personal heptathlon started at 1pm with the 400m hurdles and concluded at 5pm with the last leg of the 4x400m relay. In between she fitted in an 800m, 1500m, 3000m, 100m hurdles and a leg of the 4x100m relay!
Amie’s sister Hayley, who thought she was going for a day out, having not competed for over two years, ended up joining the team and turned out in the long jump, triple jump, 100m and ended the day with a leg of the 4x100m relay.
The men’s team, which consisted of just four athletes – all veterans, rounded off their day with a momentous performance in the 4x100m relay.
The only sprinter in the team, Chris Ashmore, handed over to distance runner Steve Grainger who then made way for the two throwers, Steve Woolley and Paul Gair, both of whom then had to sprint back to the discus cage to continue that competition.
Gair and Woolley took good early points with two second places in the hammer before both going on to compete in the shot and discus, Gair producing season’s bests in all three, Woolley recording a new PB with the hammer.
Woolley was joined in the javelin by Chris Ashmore who went on to compete in his maximum of seven events – adding the long, high and triple jumps along with the 100m and 200m to his throw and relay performances.
Steve Grainger also competed his own personal heptathlon and, after a PB over the 400m hurdles, went on to run the 200m, 1500m and 3K, adding the long and triple jumps to his tally before the relay.
Despite these valiant performances Harriers could only finish in sixth spot and relegation to Division Three next season looks almost certain.
Chloe Elphick and Claire Beaumont celebrated call-ups to the East Midlands team for the annual triangular match against Loughborough Students and British Police with PBs.
Elphick leapt 5.07m in the long jump while Beaumont added 1.2 metres to her previous best in the hammer to set a new mark of 46.29m.