BAL Premiership Match 1 , Leigh Stadium, Saturday May 5, 2018
Phil Wetton reports:
Following a respectable 6th place finish in the Premiership last season, the Valley team journeyed up to Leigh for the first men’s Premiership match of 2018 full of anticipation.
It turned out to be a roller-coaster of a day, with the Valley men putting in their trademark strong finish to end the match in a very good 5th place.
The match itself was unique in that all of the 8 competing teams were weakened by missing athletes, mostly due to the British Universities Championships also taking place on the same weekend.
The Valley men had to fight hard for every point in baking hot weather and as the match progressed it looked likely that they could finish in 7th or 8th place, but team spirit shone through and strong performances in the javelin and shot pulled the team up to finish in 5th place.
However this doesn’t tell the whole story, as there were many good performances on the team throughout the day.
One such performance came from U20 middle distance athlete Abdi Mohamed, who showed great promise on his BAL debut by taking nearly 5 seconds off his 800m pb to record a time of 1:55.87 to finish 5th in the B string race, which deservedly won him the Track Man of the Match award.
There was another fine pb for sprinter Subomi Onanuga in his first season of long jumping, and his excellent jump of 6.55m was good enough to take 3rd place in the B string long jump and also won him the Field Man of the Match award.
Hurdler Andrew Ajube is no stranger to the 400m Hurdles and 400m double, but Saturday saw both him and Chris McAlister take on the treble of 400m Hurdles, 400m and 4x400m relay, and a great pb of 56.35 for 4th place in the B string 400m Hurdles won Andrew the Club Man of the Match award.
The sprints team was slightly weakened by the absence of superstar sprinters Victtor Ricardo Dos Santos Soares, Edmond Amaning and Leroy Cain, however, what was lacked was more than made up by the notorious TVH spirit which shone brighter than ever before on the day.
The day began with the long-awaited return to the track of club stalwart Jason Comissiong: who began with a very credible 11.79 100m non-scoring run into a fair headwind to commence his busy return. Miguel Larrea has been in good early season form and in the same 100m non-scoring race as Jason he recorded a time of 11.54, which again was affected by the headwind.
The match began with one of TVH’s stronger events on the day, the 400m Hurdles, with training partners Chris McAlister and Andrew Ajube carrying a weight of expectation; they did not disappoint. Chris kicked off the action with a season opening 51.30, to take 2nd place and narrowly missing out on a win, his second fastest time ever, but Andrew then went one better, running a personal best time of 56.35 to take 4th in the B string. This set the standard of some very gutsy TVH B string performances across the day, which set the club up for 5th place overall.
Next up was the 100m; sadly for birthday boy Luke Lennon-Ford, he started well but felt his groin pull 40m into the race, though despite this he finished the race and contributed valuable points to the team. We wish Luke well in his recovery and a return to form for the next match.
Subomi Onanuga stepped up to restore TVH’s rich sprinting pride, and he did so with a strong 11.01 into a -1.4ms headwind which was good for 5th place; a better start and Sub would have been challenging for the win.
The high hurdles was up next, and Valley really started to show strength in depth. With promising young hurdler Jack Hatton and Panos Bekiardis both missing through injury, Florian Vogel & Jason Comissiong stepped up to the challenge with aplomb to finish 6th and 5th respectively and both dipping under the 100 second mark! (sadly the clock didn’t stop and their race times weren’t recorded).
The Valley depth carried through to the 400m, with one lap hurdlers Chris and Andrew filling in: Chris taking 4th in a strong A race (48.55) and Andrew taking 7th in the B in 51.74. Again with key athletes missing due to training, TVH will be far stronger in the next three matches.
The Valley sprints finished with 7th in a top quality 200m from Miguel Larrea and a B string 8th place from Gavin Johnson-Assoon lookalike Jason Comissiong, Gavin will be relishing his new found 200m speed before Jason’s name is added to the results!
The final events of the day, as always, were the relays, where the TVH depth would really come good in a team performance. Both teams were full of tired men who had given their all in hope of pushing the team into a respectable league position; and their last efforts were more than rewarded with excellent 6th places in two very strong relays.
The Valley quartet of Miguel Larrea, Jason Comissiong, Florian Vogel and Subomi Onanuga recorded a time of 42.98 for 6th place in the 4x100m, and Andrew Ajube, Abdi Mohamed, Florian Vogel and Chris McAlister stepped up for the 4x400m to record a time of 3:25.05 for 6th place.
Special shout outs must go to Florian, for bolstering both relays with two excellent third legs, and to Abdi, for stepping down from the 800 to run an excellent 52s leg, and finally to Club Man of the Match Andrew, who ran the 400m treble along with sprints team manager Chris.
It was a sound start to the season in the jumps, where we picked up points fairly evenly across all 4 events.
Armani James had been waiting a long time to make his British League debut for TVH following a long term injury last season, and he made a great start to his BAL career finishing 5th in the A string triple jump with 13.75m, along with a number of larger jumps which were the wrong side of the board. He is a great addition to the team for this season and will be looking to improve as the season progresses.
We expected long jump to be a tough event following injuries and absences, however new signing Sam Trigg and potential long jump convert Subomi Onanuga did the team proud finishing 2nd and 3rd respectively to win great points for the team. Sam made an impressive BAL debut while not jumping at full strength to record a jump of 6.93m and Subomi converted his sprint speed to great success in jumping a personal best of 6.55m, a jump worthy of his Field Man of the Match award.
It was a solid day at the office for Toni Ademuwagun in the high jump, not quite finding the groove but still clearing a very creditable 1.95m for 5th place in the A string, showing how much he has progressed over the indoor season; no doubt a rising star of the team. With injury and exams reducing the number of high jumpers available on the day, Armani James stepped up to jump in the B string and jumped 1.60m for 6th place.
Antonio Borrallo made a strong BAL debut in the pole vault, clearing 3.80m to finish in 5th place in the A string, and will look to be jumping over 4m this season.
Stan Vilga is a well established member of the team who is jumping better than ever this season, he has already recorded a pb jump of 4m earlier this year and he also cleared 3.80m on the day for 4th place and good points in the B string.
Back on the track Andrew Walshe was returning for his first race of the season in the 800m having only recently got married and just returned from honeymoon, with the wedding preparations leaving him with very little time to train he came to the race short of fitness and finished in a time of 2:03.79 to pick up 4 points for the team in the A string race. It was asking a lot for Andrew to double up in the 1500m on the day and although the mind was willing the body wasn’t and he did his best to stay with the pace for as long as possible and finished adrift of the field for a point in the B string. There is no doubt that Andrew will be back much stronger and faster for his next race.
Racing in his first ever British League race did not unsettle U20 athlete Abdi Mohamed, as he ran a perfectly even paced race in the B string 800m and he was rewarded with a fantasic new pb time of 1:55.87 for 5th place in the B string and was very close to 3rd place. To perform so well at this level at such a young age points to a very bright future for Abdi and he was a worthy winner of the Track Man of the Match award for his 800m performance.
Having had to endure a season on the sidelines last summer due to injury Conor Kissane-Wood made a good return to the British League team with a 4:04.18 pb for 7th place in the A string 1500m, and he looks set to go under 4 minutes this season.
Antonio Silva has been in great form on the roads so far this year and in his first track race of the year he was in contention with the leaders in the 3000m up until the last couple of laps and he recorded a very good time of 8:29.08 for 5th place in the A string race.
After joining TVH as a junior athlete and having spent some time in France Hugo Cayssials returned to the team in good form as a senior athlete and was very unlucky to pick-up a hamstring injury on the final lap of the 3000m, yet despite this he still managed to finish the race in a pb time of 8:58.97 for a very good 4th place in the B string. The good news is that Hugo should make a full recovery and will return to action again soon.
The 3000m steeplechase proved to be a good source of points for the team on the day, with Richard Ollington returning to the team to produce a very good time of 9:37.78 for 4th place in the A string.
Making his British League debut in the B string race was Michael Cameron, whose time of 9:51.47 earned him 2nd place and valuable points for the team. It was great to see two TVH steeplechasers doing so well and if this race is any indication expect both men to be going faster as the season progresses.
There were some very strong performances from the Valley throwers who had a field day (excuse the pun) to help TVH finish as 2nd place team in the field on the day.
Starting in the hammer and making his TVH debut U20 thrower Sam Mace showed that he is up to the task of throwing with the senior hammer weight and enjoyed a good competition to finish in 7th place in the A string with a pb throw of 51.96m. Sam certainly has the talent to go a long way in the sport and it will be exciting to follow his progress this season.
Jamie Potton-Burrell has been a reliable member of the team over the last number of years and was not at his best as he couldn’t find a good rhythm in the hammer and was disappointed to finish with a best throw of 49.60m, yet despite this it still earned him 2nd place in the B string and valuable points for the team. Expect Jamie to be back throwing well over 50m when he next competes.
In the discus James Hedger made a great start to the season with a pb throw of 47.77m to finish in 5th place in the A string, and in only his 2nd season in the event James looks set to be throwing much further this season.
Suffering from a very heavy cold Craig Sturrock couldn’t produce his best form in the discus, yet despite this he still recorded a throw of 37.12m for 4th place and good points in the B string.
The final 2 throwing events of the day, the javelin and discus, proved to be a source of inspiration for the Valley team, with excellent performances all round.
In the javelin Gavin Johnson-Assoon opened the season with a best throw on the day of 62.26m which was good enough for 2nd place and excellent points for the team towards the end of the match.
Gavin was well supported by Dawid Jerzykowski who threw a season’s best of 48.54m to also gain 2nd place in the B string and add to an impressive points tally from the javelin to help move the TVH team up through the team standings in the match.
The shot proved to be the strongest event of the day for the Valley men, with Remco Goetheer producing an impressive throw of 17.43m to finish well clear of the rest of the field in 2nd place and earn invaluable points for the team.
While still suffering from the effects of his heavy cold Craig Sturrock dug deep to produce a good throw of 14.73m for the first win of the day for the Valley men in the B string shot and a fantastic points haul for the Valley men in the shot.
The timing couldn’t have been better for such a good points score in the javelin and shot, as it was enough to lift the TVH team up into 5th place by the end of the match, in what was an incredibly close finish that saw just 14 points separating the TVH team in 5th and the Swansea team in 8th place, with TVH just 9 points away from the Shaftesbury team in 4th place.
All in all it was an exciting finish to the match and a great credit to the TVH men to perform so well throughout the day and end the match on a high point and a 5th place finish for a good start to the season.
For the next match on Saturday June 2nd the men will be travelling to Cardiff for what looks set to be a very competitive match, though be in no doubt that the Valley men will be up for the challenge.
Up The Valley!
BAL Premiership Match 1 Result :
|Team||Match Points||League Points|
|2||City of Sheffield & Dearne AC||318|
|Shaftesbury Barnet Harriers||259||5|
|5||Thames Valley Harriers||250|
|Woodford Green w Essex Ladies||246|
|Newham & Essex Beagles AC||242||2|
Thanks to Christophe for the photos in this report – for more of his photos go to his album: https://www.flickr.com/photos/146244754@N06/sets/72157693586121362
Or for other superb photos from Leigh take by Angela and Flo go the TVH facebook group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/6515973279/