Lower YDL National Finals – Girls Team Report
Reading AC U13 ad U15 athletes made the long coach journey to Manchester this weekend in an attempt to retain their National YDL Title from 2018.
The weather was good and spirits were high, but we knew that it would be incredibly difficult to retain the title of National Champions again this year.
Reading AC totally dominated the 75m hurdles races with Tomi winning the A string (11.28, incredibly close to a pb) and Annie Jonkers the B string (11.58). In the U15 80m hurdles, Megan Sommerville-Bailey, ran a superb A string race when she normally runs B string for Reading AC. Both Megan and B string Naomi Sutton were close to personal best performances.
In the sprint races, Kaya Slater, still just a first year U15 athlete, had to step up to A string when Megan Pickup sadly injured her knee competing in the long jump competition. Kaya ran incredibly well against a strong field (which included a new championship record holder, aptly named Success Eduan) as did Fern Harris and Topaz Samuel in the B string races, both of whom were only expecting to compete in the relay races, but did not hesitate to step in when needed. Our U13 girls were absolutely flying with Tomi Adejuwon achieving Bronze in the 75m A string (10.32) and Lexie Thompson winning 75m B string (10.40). Despite smashing her elbow up a few weeks ago, Izzy Fox ran a strong and determined race finishing 4th B string 150m.
The U15 300m and 800m races proved to be particularly tough and Team Captain Jemima Crocker bravely ran both distances. Jemima has never complained about doubling up and has done this in all five YDL matches, finishing with a 4 x 300m relay each time. Poppy Hankinson and Katie Barnes ran the A 300m and B 800m races respectively, giving it their all, despite the mean opposition. Our gutsy U15 1500m runners Ella Botha and Ella Newman have never let us down with their grit and determination and Ella B came 4th A string, just 1.5 sec off 2nd place (4.55.4), with Ella N finishing 2nd B string (5.00.1). Our U13 middle distance runners Mia Corbin, Khadijah Gaye, Alex Marden and Molly Barnes are all in the first year of this age group, but all stepped up to the challenge with Mia and Alex both running pbs in the 800m (2.35.96) and 1200m (4.18.04) respectively. The YDL experience has been quite daunting for these girls at times, but they have never declined the chance to compete and this will put them in good stead to beat off the opposition next season.
On the field, Annie Jonkers jumped 4m69 to win silver in the U13 girls long jump and Lily Wilson kindly stepped in on the day to fill in the B string gap. Competition proved a bit tough in the U13 high jump, but Lily Wilson and Moriah Hurst gave it their all. Raissa Kaninda threw a respectable 7.49 to win silver in the shot put, whilst B string Millie Cooper came 4th. Our top javelin thrower and good allrounder, Annie Jonkers came 2nd with a pb of 28.62, whilst Charlotte Ashby, our U13 team captain, threw one of her best performances of the season to win B string (21.20m).
Our U15 girls also found the jumps to be a challenge, with Lydia Godfrey having to step up to A string when Megan Pickup jarred her knee on landing. Both girls knew it would be tough but did not hesitate to grab the chance to compete when asked. Lauren Wellstead and Poppy Hankinson jumped the same height in the high jump, but unfortunately for Lauren, she had less failures, so ended up being out of the medals in A string, whereas lucky Poppy snatched a bronze medal for B string. Our regular and reliable throwers Samaia Dhir and Mia Greenidge-Knell were drooping their heads at the end of the day because their necks were weighed down with medals. Both won three medals with Samaia’s top performance being gold in the A string discus (27.53) and Mia’s was silver in the A string shot (10.98). Grace Huskinson came 6th in the A string javelin, whilst Naomi Schofield, who was drafted into the YDL team just a few weeks ago, came away with a bronze medal in B string.
We are lucky to have such a strong U15 girls pole vault team, this match in the form of Ruby Harris and Naomi Sutton. George and Meryl Austin have coached and supported these girls through every YDL match and they both performed to the best of their abilities in Manchester, with Ruby vaulting 2.90m, just 10cm off her pb to win silver A string and Naomi reaching a new pb height of 2.80m to win gold B string.
Our team had been coming 3rd throughout the day, so it was crucial for our relay teams to do well to retain or improve our position. Our U15 4 x 100m team was joined by reserve Megan Sommerville-Bailey, and some last-minute practices in the warm-up area ensured that they ran a solid race with good changeovers to come 5th overall, only just missing out on 4th. The 4 x 300m team were quite tired after such tough 300m and 800m races earlier in the day, but were joined by a fresh-legged Scarlett Taplin. Unfortunately a gap opened up in front which proved impossible to close, however, they never gave up and finished 6th a long way ahead of Milton Keynes. A mistake by one of the officials meant that the first leg runners of the U13 girls 4 x 100m teams all ran one lane inside their second leg runners, causing panic and quick-thinking was required at the first changeover. Our girls dealt with this well and flew around the track to finish in second place. Unfortunately, despite three of the team managers wanting the results to stand, we were out voted by the teams that no doubt were out of the medal positions. This was most unfair on our girls, but that is the harsh reality of competition.
Then came the big announcement ………… our overall position was third behind Sale Harriers, for whom the Etihad Stadium is home territory and Blackheath and Bromley, who had been slightly ahead of us most of the season in the Southern division. Although it was close between these top two teams, we finished 30 points behind Blackheath and 39 points ahead of Preston in 4th, so a clear 3rd place for Reading AC. It was lovely to see our team captains proudly collecting a runner-up trophy and with such strong performances and team spirit from our Reading Athletes, we can hold our heads up high. Well done everyone – what a great weekend of athletics – one we will never forget.
Sarah Ball (Girls Lower YDL Team Manager)