North East Masters Athletics Association (NEMAA) Track and Field League Meeting 1 – 15th May 2023

by Geoff Hewitson

The opening NEMAA Track & Field League meeting of the 2023 season took place last Monday evening in near perfect weather conditions for the time of year. Despite a couple of late withdrawals, the mens team still had a healthy 10 competitors, including NEMAA debutant Danny Oakley, and the welcome return of Percy Parkin after an absence of a couple of years from NEMAA competition. The ladies squad was much thinner on the ground with only 4 competitors – “Where’s Hendo, the Witton Whippet?” was the word on everyone’s lips. “I’m going to have words with her” was the response of a visibly disgruntled President Gordon. However, it was brilliant to welcome Sharon Bridge back to competitive action in the two throwing events.
A quick reminder of how the points scoring works, Essentially there are two competitions running parallel to one another – the team competition (LEAGUE) and Individual Grand Prix. The first 6 competitors in each 5-year age category score points (6 down to 1) towards the Individual Grand Prix. Events for this are divided into 4 separate categories – sprints (up to 400m), middle distance, jumps, and throws. To score points for the league, however, your club has to have a complete team – this means a minimum of 4 competitors for the men, or 3 in the case of the women. As a result, your points scores for the Grand Prix and League may often differ. For example, if you finished 4th in your age category in a particular event, you would score 3 points towards the Individual Grand Prix. However, if one of the athletes ahead of you was from a club that didn’t have a complete team, they would not be eligible to score league points. You would move up to 3rd place, and score 4 league points. Bit complicated, but I hope that explains it OK.
The men’s team accumulated 84 points on the night, which puts us in 5th place in the league. As was the case last year, Jarrow & Hebburn AC continue to turn out large numbers of participants, and as a result have already built up a sizeable advantage at the top of the league table. However, the next 5 clubs are separated by just 18 points – potentially the contribution from just one extra competitor, so it’s all to play for going forward.
Team Grand Prix for Men:

Top points scorers for the men’s team were Ken C (16), Percy P (12), Paul C (12), Andy T (11), and Joe Hall (10). Remember, the maximum is 18 points if you are lucky enough to finish first in your age category in all 3 events. Ken won his age category in the 400m (1:39.4) and came second in both the javelin (14.02m) and hammer (12.27). Percy finished second in the 100m (20.5s) and 400m (1:54.4) and also picked up a couple of useful points in the javelin. Andy T put in his usual solid performance with a third place in the javelin (11.29m), 2nd in the hammer (15.27m) and 5th in the long jump (2.69m). Paul Smith ran well in both his track races, clocking 90.4s for the 400m and 13:25.6 in the 3000m. He also produced a very respectable best throw of 17.89m in the javelin. Phil H gained useful points in the hammer (14.86m) and javelin (18.77m), and set a new PB of 86.1s in the 400m (an improvement of about 5 seconds from last year!). “Turbo” Joe Hall lived up to his name in the 100m with a new PB of 16.6s, followed by an age category win in the hammer (16.86m) and a 3rd place in the javelin (16.73m). Paul Campbell enjoyed a successful night, setting two new personal bests in the 100m (14.8s) and high jump (1.45m). He also finished 3rd in the long jump with a best of 3.41m). Danny performed well on debut, particularly in the 100m (14.9s); his other events were the 400m (85.3s) and long jump (3.14m). Lee Newby-Higginbottom was also a “double PB” achiever with new best performances in the 100m (13.8s) and long jump (4.02m). Finally, as far as my own performances were concerned, I knew beforehand that sprints and horizontal jumps in the new age category were going to be a tough gig, but as it turned out the competition was even hotter than I’d expected. I’m going to have to rethink my strategy for choosing events at future meetings to score more points in the league!
Our ladies collectively scored 50 points in the league, which as can be seen in the table below, leaves them in 6th place. Not too bad really considering there were only 4 of them. The “big two” (Jarrow & Hebburn AC and South Shields Harriers”) are already miles ahead, but it should be close between ourselves, North Shields Poly, Elvet, Blyth, Heaton and possibly Tyne Bridge for 3rd spot as the season progresses.
Team Grand Prix for Women:

Our main points contributors were Jo Raine (18) and Heather Jones (17). Jo won her age category in the league competition in all three events: 400m (69.1s), long jump (3.96m) and high jump (1.25m). Heather also had a very successful evening with a win in the hammer (18.93m) and runner-up in the javelin (8.72m). She also collected a further 6 points courtesy of an age category win in the long jump.

As mentioned earlier, it was fantastic to have Sharon B back competing for the team, and it wasn’t just a case of being involved again, she actually performed brilliantly! An age category win in the hammer (17.39m) and 2nd place in the javelin (11.60m) meant that she scored 11 out of a possible 12 points and as a result she currently leads the F50 Individual Grand Prix (throws discipline).

Laura Newby-Higginbottom unfortunately failed to register a valid throw in the hammer competition, which was a real shame because this is an event in which she normally excels. I’m sure with a bit of fine tuning to her technique, Laura will put this behind her at future meetings. However, there was a much more positive outcome in the 3000m where she set a new PB of 13:08.2, an improvement of around 6 seconds.
Online entries are now open for the next league meeting, which takes place on Monday 5th June. The scheduled events are: 100m, 200m, 800m, 1500m, high jump, triple jump, discus and shot. If you are wondering which events to enter with a view to maximising your points tally, Paul Campbell has very kindly produced the following summary from Meeting 1. It shows the number of competitors that took part in each event, according to age category. Clearly some events (and age categories) are far more competitive than others, which might be of use when plotting your strategy.

Looking forward to the next meeting on June 5th, where hopefully we’ll have a few more competitors.

Geoff H