Travelling to Tonbridge for the final Southern League match of the season on Saturday it was always going to be a close match and close end to the season for the Valley men and women as they were up against 3 teams just behind them in the league table.
As it turned out the league standings before the start of the match were almost completely reversed, with Colchester Harriers winning the match on 198 points, Basingstoke & Mid Hants 2nd on 195.5 points, TVH 3rd on 185 and home team Tonbridge 4th on 150.5 points.
It was a strong team performance from the Valley with everyone working hard to cover as many events as possible and with just a gap of 13 points to 1st place and 10.5 points to 2nd we were unlucky not to finish higher than 3rd in the match.
The match result meant that Colchester, Basingstoke and TVH would all finish the season on 12 league points, with both Colchester and Basingstoke above TVH on match points, leaving an agonising wait for the remaining 3 match results to see where we would finish in the league.
When all the results were in it was good news as TVH maintained their position in SAL Division 1 next season with a 12th place finish in the league, level on 12 league points with 13th place team Radley but 16 match points ahead, while the teams in 13th to 16th place are relegated to SAL Division 2 next season.
With a number of people missing the numbers were down on the previous home match, the men’s and women’s teams numbering 23 and 16 athletes respectively, it still yielded a good 9 wins for the men and 12 wins for the women in the match.
It was also good to continue the trend of new athletes competing for the team, with 4 men and 1 lady making their SAL debut for the Valley.
There were several Valley athletes who were kept busy competing throughout the whole day and the TVH Man of the Match and Woman of the Match awards went to Jehvaun Senior for wins in the B string 100m and 200m plus 4x100m relay, and Angela Barrett for her wins in the A string long jump, B string high jump and 100m hurdles, 2nd place B string javelin and 3rd place B string discus, as well as a leg in the winning 4x400m relay team which was unfortunately disqualified.
With SAL Division 1 status ensured for next season, along with the men’s promotion to the BAL
Premiership and the women competing in the UKWAL Premiership, this now means that TVH will have all 3 senior track and field teams competing in their highest respective leagues next season (the only team in the South of England to have their all their senior teams in the top divisions for the 2017 season).
This is the first time this has happened in the club’s history and also makes us one of the top 3 teams in the country to have currently achieved this, which is something to be proud of and can only inspire everyone within the club.
So a big thank you to all who have helped achieve this and let’s look forward to an even better season at the top next year!
Women’s Match Report
by Manuel Da Silva
Thames Valley Harriers travelled to Tonbridge on Saturday for the final SAL match of the season knowing that a top two finish would keep them in the top division. The match was another very close one with only a few points separating the top three teams throughout the day, with points combined with the men. It was an extremely windy day so finishing positions were more important than time and distances.
The first ladies field event was the Pole Vault. Despite never having picked up a pole before Ashleigh Stephenson and Marissa John volunteered to attempt to clear the opening height for the points. Both Ashleigh and Marissa were unlucky to miss out on a clearance but can be congratulated on giving it a real go. It was great seeing Ashleigh making her first appearance of the season and in her main event the hammer she did very well to finish 2nd in the A string with 34.52m. Marissa in her main event, the triple jump, won the B string with 9.98m.
TVH’s ladies scored good points in the throws. Abigail Moronkeji joined Ashleigh in the hammer to claim 2nd place in the B string with a season’s best 29.49m. In Abigail’s specialist event, the shot putt, she did well to finish 2nd with 10.99m and was well backed up by javelin specialist Olga Kotmolosi in the B string as Olga finished 1st with 10.60m. In the javelin, Olga was disappointed that her longest throw of the year did not get measured by the officials but still she easily won the competition with 39.89m. There were also 3rd place finish for Olga in the A string discus (25.71).
Club stalwart and top point’s scorer in both SAL and UKWAL is Angela Barrett who was the busiest of all TVH athletes with a remarkable six events. Angela was the SAL athlete of the match with her victory in the long jump (5.67m). Angela followed the long jump with victories in the 100m hurdles and high jump B string, a 2nd place in the javelin B string, 3rd place in the discus B string and the fastest leg in the 4x400m team as her team crossed the line in 1st place. For her fantastic team effort, Angela Barrett was also awarded the TVH Athlete of the Match award.
Pippa Rogan also scored some very valuable points for the team with a new PB to finish 2nd in the triple jump with 10.98m and a comfortable victory in the high jump 1.70m before running a good leg for our 4x400m team.
There were some top classing sprinters present, including English schools champion Mair Edwards from Basingstoke and English schools 200m finalist Rebecca Jeggo from Colchester. TVH’s Hannah Hall was within 0.2s in both the 100m and 200m as she finished 3rd in the A string 100m and 2nd in the A string 200m. Hannah was well supported by Sherique Ruddock who finished 2nd in the B string 200m. It was great to see birthday girl, Tayla Benson back in the team after missing most of the season with a foot injury. Tayla did incredibly well as she completed four events: 1 in the 100m B string 13.2, 3rd in the 400m hurdles A string 72.9, 1st in the 100m hurdles A string 15.8 and 1st as part of the 4x100m team. In the 4x100m, the three aforementioned athletes were joined by Sharni Raymond who had earlier run 13.9 in the 100m non-scoring. This awesome foursome produced a good win in a time of 51.8.
The 400m A and B string race were very closely fought, with both Sarada Nag and debutant Lara Scerri finishing strongly to each place 3rd with 62.9 and 65.9 respectively. Lara had earlier ran a solid 800m to finish 4th in the A string (2:27.3) with Diana Kennedy also 4th in the B string (2:53.0). Diana also earlier placed 3rd in the 400m hurdles (96.9) having had a long journey where she had to sprint from her car to the start line. We are very grateful for Diana’s continual commitment to the team.
Sarah Johnson and Siana Jones were the TVH duo 3000m and 1500m double upper’s. Over the last few weeks Sarah Johnson has shown a great return to form with a recent 5000m PB. Sarah was also rewarded with two victories on the day, with times of 10:11.5 in the 3000m and 4:55.3 in the 1500m. Cross country team manager Siana has been carrying a foot injury all summer but was determined to score as many points as possible as she finished 2nd in the B string 3000m (12:34.4) and 4th in the 1500m (6:02.5).
There was some controversy in the last event of the day, the 4x400m. Despite an outstanding effort from the quartet of Lara Scerri, Pippa Rogan, Sarada Nag and Angela Barrett who won the race, the team were disqualified for a similar reason to GB’s men’s 4x400m disqualification in Rio the night before. The officials claimed that the baton exchange happened outside the permitted area, as one of the athlete’s hands was just outside zone. We have since recovered video evidence that backs up our claim that the baton exchange happened well within the permitted zone. The points lost were critical to remaining in the top division, and we all thought relegation was now inevitable. Fortunately, luck was on our side. After the points from other matches were totalled, we received the good news that we would remain in the top league for another year, by the skin of our teeth!
Men’s Match Report
by Phil Wetton
Upon arrival at Tonbridge the Valley team were greeted by strong wind and rain for the 5th and final Southern League match of the season, not exactly conditions that you would expect in August but fairly typical of a British summer’s day!
This meant that conditions on the track and field were never going to be conducive for personal best performances, though thankfully the weather did improve later as the sun made an appearance in between the rain showers.
Despite the Valley men missing a number of athletes through holiday, work and injury, there was a good number of 23 men on the team who all worked hard to make sure that every event was covered on the day.
It was also good to see 3 TVH junior athletes, Marsin Sesay, Archie O’Connor and Ceake Maddix, all making their SAL debut, along with senior athlete Florian Vogel who was making his debut appearance for the Valley.
There were a number of good performances on the day with the men’s team producing a total of 9 wins, 8 on the track and 1 on the field, as well as 5 pb’s despite the bad weather.
Winner of the Valley’s own club Man of the Match award for the overall best performance on the day was sprinter Jehvaun Senior for his wins in the B string 100m and 200m in 11.4s and 23.1s respectively and a leg in the winning 4x100m relay team, which all combined to win the trophy and voucher, well done Jehvaun!
As the match began on the track with the 400m hurdles it saw a return to the team for Abdi Ali, however the wind and rain hindered his performance as he finished 4th in the A race in a time of 69.0s, while team manager Manuel Da Silva stepped in to cover the B race for 4th place in 74.7s.
With Mark Dyble and Subomi Onanuga back on the team and joining forces with Jehvaun Senior they formed a formidable force in the sprints and won an impressive clean sweep to take maximum points in the 100m and 200m.
First up in the 100m A race Subomi had a clear margin of victory to win in a time of 11.0s, while Jehvaun had a closer finish in the B race as 1st and 2nd places were given the same time of 11.4s, Jehvaun was awarded with 1st place.
There was an even closer finish in the 200m A race, as just 0.1s separated all 4 athletes, with 1st and 2nd given the same time of 22.6s, and 3rd and 4th given the same time of 22.7s, it was Mark who came out on top to claim the win, while Jehvaun made sure of a clear margin of victory in the B race to win in a time of 23.1s.
In the non-scoring sprints Chaka Maillet continued the winning run with a win in the 100m in a time of 11.6s, and then backed this up with a 2nd place in the 200m in 23.7s.
Also competing in the non-scoring sprints and making their SAL debut were Valley junior athletes Marsin Sesay, Archie O’Connor and Ceake Maddix, with Marsin recording 12.4s in the 100m, Archie 12.6s and 25.3s in the 100m and 200m, and Ceake 12.8s and 26.5s in the 100m and 200m.
The 110m hurdles proved to be an eventful debut for Florian Vogel, as his first race for the Valley and first race back after being injured all season he could not have got off to a worse start as the runner in the lane next to him threw an arm out and knocked Florian off his stride at the first hurdle, amazingly Florian regained his balance but could only recover to finish in 2nd place in the A race in 19.8s, thankfully Artur Domingos had a much less dramatic run in the B race to finish 3rd in a time of 24.6s.
Stepping up from the 100m and 200m Laurence Owen was in unfamiliar territory in the 400m and having made a fast start managed to hold on for a good time of 53.3s, less than a second outside his pb, and 4th place in the A race, while going down in distance Botond Safar switched from his usual 800m to record a time of 54.4s for 2nd place to score some good points in the B race.
Back on familiar ground Botond contended a very fast 800m and in windy conditions finished 4th in the A race in a time of 2m07.4s, and Scott Brewer also found the going tough in the wind and came home in 4th place in the B race in 2m13.3s.
With a busy track season coming to an end Mohamud Aadan made his first Southern League appearance of the season with an impressive double win in the 1500m and 5000m.
The 1500m was Mo’s 2nd race of the day and leading at the bell he ran away from the rest of the field to win the A race in 4m04.6s and finish nearly 10s ahead of the 2nd place athlete, he was ably supported by Conor Kissane-Wood who made sure of maximum points after a strong sprint finish to win the B race in a time of 4m13.5s.
Earlier in the day Mo had warmed-up with the 5000m, where he controlled the race and made sure of victory with a sprint finish to win the A race in a time of 16m09.7s, and a determined run from Steve Norris saw him rewarded with 3rd place in the B race in a season’s best time of 17m52.0s.
For the final match of the season the men were racing in a 2000m steeplechase and Paul Woodgate decided to forgo his usual warm-up in either the 3000m or 5000m and the decision paid-off as he improved his pb by nearly 12 seconds with a time of 8m43.0s for 4th place in the A race, while Artur Domingos covered the B race in a time of 11m13.4s for 4th place in the B race.
In the 4x100m the Valley men maintained their near perfect relay record for this season with another convincing win, with the team of Chaka, Mark, Jehvaun and Subomi recording a good time of 43.2s to win by over 2s.
There was also a non-scoring team for the Valley comprised of Laurence, Marsin, Ceake and Archie, that suffered disqualification and were unable to record a time.
With the final track event of the day approaching there were a number of tired yet willing volunteers for the 4x400m relay and the team of Botond, Laurence, Florian and Conor gave their all for a 4th place finish in a time of 3m36.4s.
As the field events got underway Ali Mortimore was once again the backbone of the Valley throwers and with the exception of the hammer he was joined by Florian Vogel, who was keen to do well and cover all the events on his Valley debut.
There was a high standard in the men’s throws all day and first up in the shot putt Ali threw 11.39m for 3rd place in the A string, and Florian did well with a 10.16m throw for a new pb and 2nd place in the B string.
For the second consecutive match Ali improved on his discus to throw another season’s best distance of 34.02m for 4th place in the A string, while Florian was perfecting his technique in his 5th event of the day and produced a throw of 20.44m for 4th place in the B string.
The javelin saw Florian on good form as he once again recorded a pb with a throw of 39.08m for 4th place in the A string, and despite not having thrown javelin all season Ali was able to produce a throw of 35.22m for 3rd place in the B string.
In the hammer Ali was once again up against some big throwers and his throw of 33.28m was good enough for 3rd place in the A string, and he was joined by U20 junior Marsin Sesay who threw 15.66m for 4th place in the B string, missing out on 3rd place by just under 1 metre on his SAL debut.
In the pole vault Stan Vilga was close to his season’s best in difficult conditions and a jump of 3.50m gave him 2nd place in the A string, while high jumper Michael Adekunle improved his pb by 20cm to jump 2.30m for 3rdplace in the B string.
Back in the high jump both Michael and U17 junior Toni Ademuwagun coped well with the bad weather, as Michael equalled his season’s best jump of 1.90m for 2nd place in the A string, and Toni was just a few centimetres short of his pb when he jumped 1.85m to win the B string.
With Odell Okwuosa the only recognised long and triple jumper available on the day, having last jumped a few years ago sprinter Mark Dyble was keen to see what he could do in the long jump and was disappointed not to go beyond 6m with a jump of 5.96m for 3rd place in the A string, and Odell was also close to 6m with a jump of 5.90m for 3rd in the B string.
The surprise of the day was sprinter Subomi Onanuga, who had also jumped before but was entered in the non-scoring long jump in which he produced a best jump of 6.29m, which would have been just 2cm short of improving on Mark’s 3rd place if Subomi had been jumping in the A string competition.
In the triple jump Odell jumped well and was only 5cm short of winning the A string with his jump of 12.73m for 2nd place, while Toni switched from the high jump to gain valuable points for 2nd place in the B string with a jump of 10.76m.
At the start of the match the target for the team was a 1st or 2nd place finish and this was looking likely as the match drew to a close, but a disqualification in the women’s 4x400m relay didn’t help the Valley cause and TVH finally finished in 3rd place on 185 points, just 10.5 points away from Basingstoke in 2nd and 13 points away from Colchester in 1st .
This meant a long wait for the other 3 match scores to see where we would finish in the league and more importantly if we would remain above the bottom 4 relegation places from 13th to 16th in the league table.
The final 4 match scores produced a final league table with TVH in 12th place, just 1 place and 16 match points above the bottom 4 teams, meaning we live to fight another season in SAL Division 1 next year.
Looking ahead to next season it’s important that we get off to a good start, meaning we need to get out a strong team for the first match, so put next year’s SAL match dates in the diary as soon as you receive them.
Finally, thanks again to all the athletes, officials, helpers and supporters who have helped to create a Valley team that is greater than the sum of it’s parts due to an amazing team spirit!
Up The Valley!
SAL Division 1, Match 5, Tonbridge, 20-08-16, Results
|Match Position||Match Points||League Points|
|1 Colchester Harriers||198||4|
|2 Basingstoke & Mid Hants||195.5||3|
|3 Thames Valley Harriers||185||2|
SAL Division 1, League Table at 20-08-16 after 5 Matches
|League Position||Match Points||League Points|
|2 Dartford Harriers||989.5||16|
|3 Nene Valley Harriers||980||15|
|7 Belgrave Harriers||891||13|
|8 Marshall Milton Keynes||879||13|
|10 Colchester Harriers||903||12|
|11 Basingstoke & Mid Hants||884.5||12|
|12 Thames Valley Harriers||880||12|
|16 City of Norwich||740||6|