Connell and McNeil close the season in style for Mansfield Harriers

Jenson Connell, who produced an impressive personal-best at the national championships.
Jenson Connell, who produced an impressive personal-best at the national championships.

Two youngsters at Mansfield Harriers produced their best-ever performances at a major event when tackling the National Track and Field Championships for U15s and U17s.

The competition over two days was fierce for the traditional curtain-closer to the athletics season for teenagers.

Lauren McNeil, who made the top five at the national championships.

Lauren McNeil, who made the top five at the national championships.

But Jenson Connell and Lauren McNeil rose to the challenge to secure superb top-six places in their events.

Connell competed in the last distance-race on the second day of the championships, the U17 men’s 3000 metres. In far from ideal conditions and against the best in the country, he put in a stellar performance as he placed sixth and recorded a new personal-best in a highly impressive time of eight minutes, 51.90 seconds.

Starting near the back of the field, Connell worked through the pack, passing several athletes thanks to his relentless, even pace. He will now go into his preferred cross-country season with tremendous confidence under his belt.

Racing in the U17 girls’ 1500 metres, McNeil went into the contest with trepidation after being away for three of the previous four weeks.

However, she ran an assured tactical race to get the best possible placing she could and crossed the line in a terrific fifth place.

Running in the pack for the first 800 metres, McNeil stayed in the chasing group throughout and a strong finish cemented her position.

Meanwhile, on the roads, several Hariers athletes made the short trip to the Wilne 10K in Derbyshire. The highlight of the event was the display of two evergreen athletes, Andy Wetherill and Maddy Collinge.

Wetherill ran 37.51 minutes to take victory in the over-60 male age category, while Collinge clocked 52.46 minutes to win the female over-65 category.

The Wilne event also featured the Midland Masters Championship, and both Wetherill and Collinge had the honour of being crowned age-group Midlands champions as well.

At the sharp end of the race, Paul Wright continued his fine summer, recording a very swift 33.01, with Jonny Lowe racing to 36.04, Roy Smith recording 47.29 and, in her first race as a Mansfield athlete, Allie Eley posting a personal-best time of 48.05.

Tim Richardson registered 55.05, Pete Copcutt crossed the line in 57.55, Kev Whitehead clocked 58.29, Tina Copcutt recorded 59.28 and Ruth Smith posted 78.18.