There was disappointment for cross-country as the arrival of Storm Dennis caused yet another race to be cancelled with a waterlogged car park, but luckily there was no fields in sight for the athletics squad, just a nice tarmac car park and indoor track.
The team travelled down on Friday 14th February, ready for the sprinters to kick off the first of three days of athletics. The 18-strong team provided great support for everyone, along with the rest of NUAXC watching on the live stream back in Newcastle.
All of the recent block practice clearly paid off, with strong starts for Sophie Thorpe, Alice Nottingham, Daniel McCoy and Becci Ousby in the 60m and 60m hurdles races. A standout performance for Will Seed in his 60m hurdles heat saw him progress through to the final later that day. Liam Reveley also ran an impressive race, narrowly missing out on joining Will in the final by just 0.01 seconds. The hurdles final came with some added drama as a false start wasn’t heard until the end of the race, meaning it had to be re-run straight after. Even so, Will managed to break the club record, finishing 6th in 8.56 seconds.
The first day also saw the 800m heats for Bradley Wilsher, Maddy Squires and Shona Haston, with all three running strong races. Bradley managed a sprint finish to edge into 5th in his heat, Maddy ran a PB in her heat and Shona won hers, gaining automatic qualification through to the semi-finals, in what was a very tactical race. A long first day at the track was rounded off well in the field events, with Becci throwing 8.86 metres in the shot put and Harrison Whitfield comfortably qualifying for Sunday’s triple jump final.
The team were up early again on the Saturday morning to get to the stadium for the 1500m heats. Jack Douglas held his own against a strong field, crossing the line in 4:19 for 5th in his race. Jeanclaude Doukrou, Will Seed, Emily Strickland and Hannah Malpass were racing the 400m next. All four ran strong races, with Jeanclaude getting a PB, Will qualifying for the semi-finals and both Emily and Hannah finising 3rd in their respective heats. Shona’s 800m semi-final was the faster of the two, pushing her on to run a 3 second PB in 2:14.59, breaking her own club record and putting her 8th fastest overall.
Following was the highly anticipated mascot race, unfortunately without Newcastle’s mascot however, which had been left back up North.
It would be a tough act to follow, but Liam Reveley managed, qualifying for the high jump final in just one jump. The long jump saw some inter-club rivalry between Luke Whittington and Sam Pooley, with Luke just getting the edge over Sam by 0.02 metres.
The final event of the day was the 4x200m relay heats. The men’s team (after a lot of deliberation) consisted of Will Seed, Daniel McCoy, Sam Pooley and Liam Reveley. They finished 4th in their heat in a time of 1:35.59, with Liam running comfortably under 23 seconds to claim the fastest leg time. The women’s 4x200m team of Emily Strickland, Alice Nottingham, Becci Ousby and Hannah Malpass ran a club record breaking time in 1:46.42 to finish 2nd in their heat, with both Hannah and Emily running sub-26 second splits.
A couple of ice baths and a good night’s sleep later, and the team were ready to take on the final day of the competition, which kicked off with the 200m heats. Ryan Stacey made a brief appearance in Sheffield to race, along with Sophie and Alice. All three ran seasons best times, unfortunately resulting in a quick lactic-induced chunder for Sophie. Next up was Will (who had already ran five races over the course of the previous two days) in the 400m semi-finals. He still managed to produce another good run, finishing in 50.38 seconds.
The rest of the day consisted of watching the many track and field finals which saw top athletes such as GB pole vaulter Holly Bradshaw competing. The finals also included NUAXC’s own Harrison in the triple jump and Liam in the high jump. Harrison finished 8th overall with a best jump of 13.71 metres. It was bittersweet for Liam, who finished 4th with 1.99 metres, just missing out on getting a coveted BUCS medal.
A special thank you must go to the athletics captains, Emily Davis and Emily Strickland, for organising and supporting over the weekend, despite Davis being too injured to compete herself. The indoor season might be over for NUAXC, but there’s still plenty of competitions to be working hard for, with the outdoor season starting soon, and efforts focusing towards BUCS Outdoors in May.