North East Masters Athletics Association (NEMAA)Track and Field League Meeting 1 – 20th May 2024

by Geoff Hewitson

The NEMAA Track & Field League meeting last Monday evening heralded the start of the 2024 season, and we were fortunate to be blessed with near perfect weather conditions. The mens team had a reasonable turnout of 9 competitors, whilst the ladies had a squad of 5. It was great to welcome NEMAA debutants Peter Coser, Lisa Donaldson and Mel Riley, who were competing for the first time in the Track and Field League. It is often the case that overall competitor numbers tend to be very high at the first meeting, but this year’s turnout was quite exceptional. There were 14 heats in both the 100m and 400m races, whilst the 3000m had to be divided into 5 heats having attracted no fewer than 85 athletes.

The men’s team picked up 93 points (an average of 10.3 points per athlete), which puts us in a very respectable 4th place at this early stage of the league season. As you can see from the table below, it’s the usual suspects of South Shields and Jarrow & Hebburn with their large numbers of competitors who have already established a healthy advantage, but it’s possible that this year could turn out to be a bit closer. Had we managed to turn out 3 more competitors (averaging 10 – 11 points each) we would be in third place and not too far behind.
Team Grand Prix for Men:

Top points scorers for the men’s team were the ever dependable Ken Cawkwell and Paul Campbell (14), Joe Hall contributed a handy 12 points, whilst Andy Turnell returned 11 points. 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 javelin (13.27m), finished second in the hammer (11.87m), and despite being hampered by injury still managed 4th in the 100m. After missing most of last season through injury, Paul Campbell made a very successful return to NEMAA action with second place finishes in both the high jump (1.35m) and hammer (11.40m) plus a third place in the long jump (3.22m).

Joe won his age category in the hammer with an excellent throw of 17.80m) and backed this up with 3rd place in the javelin (16.25m) and 4th in the long jump (2.82m). This more than made up for our collective disappointment in not being able to witness “Turbo” Joe going through the gears in the 100m!

Despite suffering from an injury setback which prevented his participation in the long jump (and therefore the debut of his new flashy spikes remains on hold), Andy T still managed to pick up 11 points. This was due to a win in the hammer (16.64m) and second place in the javelin (15.52m).

Peter C had a very successful night on debut with second place in the long jump (3.32m), 5th in the 400m (69.5s) and 4th in the 100m (13.7s). His performance in the latter event established a new club record for the M50 category.

Phil H is always a reliable source of points at NEMAA meetings, and last Monday was no exception with 2nd place finishes in the high jump (1.00m) and long jump (2.88m). He also ran an excellent 400m (87.0s) but sadly finished out of the points in what is a very strong age category for sprinters.

Lee Newby-Higginbottom opened up with a very speedy 100m (13.8s) and also ran well in the 3000m (13:15.5), picking up useful points in both. Likewise, Brad W ran really well in both sprint events, clocking 13.9s for the 100m and 60.9s for the 400m (another new club record for the M40 category).

On a personal note, the 9 points I managed to acquire was the best thing that could be said about another dismal set of performances (sadly becoming something of a recurring theme). It was always going to be risky opting for both sprints and the long jump whilst trying to nurse injury niggles, and with the benefit of hindsight it proved to be the wrong decision. I need to rethink my choice of events for the next 2 or 3 fixtures at least!

Our five ladies collectively scored 72 points in the league (averaging a highly commendable 14.4 points each), and sit in 3rd place in the league table. Similar comments to those made earlier about the Men’s League also apply here, although with the exception of South Shields, it’s quite close between the teams in 2nd – 5th.

Team Grand Prix for Women:

Lisa D enjoyed a sparkling debut, the highlight of which was undoubtedly the 3000m. Making her intentions clear from the outset, Lisa went straight to the front in heat 2 and had built up a lead of 50 metres after less than a lap. As she continued to “pour it on”, the lead just grew and grew, and she crossed the line in a new club overall record time of 11:38.9. An F35 athlete in a later heat ran quicker, but Lisa still picked up 5 points for 2nd place, and followed up with another 2nd place in the 400m (76.3s), and 3rd in her first attempt at the javelin (8.46m).

Heather Jones was ‘top of the points’ with 17 (just 1 short of the maximum 18) from her three events. She won her age category in the hammer with a massive throw of 17.72m, was second in the javelin (8.12m), and registered a valid long jump to secure another valuable 6 points for the team.

Laura Newby-Higginbottom picked up 14 points from an age-category win in the hammer (11.35m),and 3rd place finishes in both the javelin (9.97m) and 3000m (13:15.6). Note that Laura and Lee registered almost identical times for the 3000m (0.1s between them) – if only they’d been in the same heat!

It was also a very successful (and welcome) return to NEMAA action for Amanda T, who won her age category in the 400m (92.3s), finished 3rd in the 100m (17.0s), and 4th in the javelin (8.87m) despite it being the first time she’d ever thrown one!

Like Lisa, Mel R was also making her NEMAA debut, and unleashed a brand new pair of very smart-looking spikes to mark the occasion. They clearly worked – in what is a strong F35 age category, Mel finished 4th in the 100m (21.2s), 5th in the 400m (103.9s) and 4th in the 3000m (15:42.2). A total of 8 points secured for the team.

With such large numbers of competitors taking part (and as a consequence, lots of heats) it was inevitable that it would be a long night. However, as a club I reckon we did pretty well overall, and with a few more competitors at future meetings we can hopefully push for top 3 finishes in both leagues.

The next league meeting takes place on Monday 3rd June. Events are 100m, 200m, 800m, 1500m, triple jump, high jump, discus and shot. There is also a 2km race walk at 6pm (does not count towards either the league or individual grand prix competitions). Remember online entries close at 5pm this Friday (31st May).