The club enjoyed a successful return to the Youth Development League Upper Age Group, with a convincing win in the opening fixture. The combined U20 and U17 teams took the first of 4 fixtures in YDL upper South division 1D, over 70 points ahead of Medway and Maidstone, with Orion third followed by the combined Victoria Tower Highgate team, and the Hawcs/Enfield&Haringey composite team. In conditions not conducive to good performances, with extreme wind chill leaving the temperature feeling close to freezing through much of the match, WGEL were strong across a notably wider range of events than the opposing teams.
The U20W were consistently stronger in depth than the opposition, led by Amelia MacDonald who won the 100m hurdles (15.28 +5.1W) and high jump; Phoebe Fuhr who took the PV, steeplechase and B HJ; and Talia Morton-Kemsley who defied injury to win the SP, JT and B LJ. Other A string winners included Millie Finch in the 400 hurdles, and U17s Victoria Cuthbert and Abigail Allen who stepped up to win the U20W HT (4k 36.38) and DT respectively. The strength of our U17W throwers was highlighted by double wins in the hammer by Andreea Golban (51.90 to move up to top 5 in the early season rankings) and Simbiyat Sikiru (44.06 among 3 B string wins).
In the U20M Woodford had several A string wins. Grantas Mockaitis warmed up for his throws with a single jump win in the HJ. Charlie Reid took the U20 shot ahead of Finley Walker in our only double win. Our busiest athlete of the day was Thomas Finch, who in addition to an unopposed win in a steeplechase that was longer than the advertised 2k also took the B DT and JT. Amazingly Woodford’s only individual A winner in flat races was Joseph Geller in the U17M 800m. Kieran Allgood made up for just losing out in the U17M 1500m (4:30.59) by taking the 1500m steeplechase at a rather quicker pace than our other winners over the fixed barriers (5:12.62). B string winners on the track included Sam Sloan in the U17M 3000m (behind Kai Boggon’s 9:26.25 PB) and Ellis Ward in the U17M 100m.
On a day where the wind led to some fast sprint times despite the cold (in the women, multiple winners set the fastest all-conditions times in their age group so far this outdoor season), the WGEL sprinters acquitted themselves well against tough competition. While many athletes ran under their legal PBs, the only outright Woodford sprint win came in the U17M 4x100 (47.07) with Reece Barton, Ellis Ward, Tolani Alaba and Matthew Adum-Yeboah.
Overall the WGEL team was successful by showing strength in depth and breadth. They were comfortably the top scorers in the field and scored well across a broader range of events on the track than any other team to enable a relatively straightforward victory. Team managers Wendy Fuhr and James Bongart will be hopeful this result sets a solid foundation for YDL upper league promotion and that exams don’t make too big a gap in the teams for the next fixture, at Mile End on Sunday 27 May.