An exceptional performance by the youngest team they have ever turned out propelled Mansfield Harriers into the national final of the road relay championships.
The top 25 teams at the Midland Area Road Relay event, held at Sutton Park, Sutton Coldfield, were guaranteed entry to the nationals. But competition is always fierce, so Harriers’ men’s squad did remarkably well to finish an impressive 18th, with the promise of even better performances to come as they mature and gain more experience.
Leading out on the traditionally strong first leg was Lewis Ashmore, who produced a terrific run to come home in 22nd place in a time of 19.44 minutes. But the team’s fastest leg came next as Alex Rieley stormed home on 19.23 to move Harriers up 12 places overall to 12th position.
Third out was Archie Rayner, who marked his first senior competition with a strong time of 20.03 to come in a fine 13th place. And he was followed by Chris
Monk, who ran leg four, clocking 20.44 to bring the team home in 16th.
Jordan Boam was another making his debut in the event, running 21.28 to bring the team back in 18th, while Cam Walker was another making his first appearance for the club in senior competition. He held his nerve throughout to bring the team to the finish in the same position with a time of 20.54.
Harriers also entered two ladies’ squads, with the A team finishing 36th and the B team 71st. Bev Armstrong was first out for the A team, coming home 46th in a time 18.57 minutes, followed by Alice Mortiboy, who improved four places to 42nd in a time of 19.33. Sharon Armitage ran 21.04 to bring the team home in 43rd, and a superb 18.17 on the last leg by Kahli Johnson improved the team by seven places.
For the B team, Jemma Arbon ran first leg and clocked 22.38, followed by Jackie Duers in 21.58, Amanda Shaw in 23.01 and Christine Fell in 22.58.
Four of Harriers’ outstanding junior ladies competed in the Linford Christie Street Athletics Finals in Manchester. At U13 level, Tania Smith finished third in the final, just pipping Ellie Sheppard, while Bryony Evans missed qualification for the final by a whisker. And at U15 level, Sophia Stewart went through the rounds with ease before finishing third in the final, despite injury. For the boys, Harry Keane was also due to compete but, sadly, he was struck with illness and couldn’t make it.