A very close second in the 3rd SAL fixture of the year at Ilford leaves WGEL needing to win the last two matches to gain promotion. The team lost out by just 3 points to Basildon in the first fixture at the Cricklefields track in 7 years. Third came Wycombe Phoenix (who had been 4th in the division), then Peterborough, hosts Ilford and West Suffolk.
Among winners in the field, most improved was Denesha Rocastle, who added over 50cm to her PB to win the long jump in 5.22 and also added a similar distance to take the B string triple jump in 10.10 (just behind Rebecca Fafowora’s 10.15 in the A). Peter Kirabo took his triple jump off a short approach (having finished runner-up in the long jump), with U17 Joba Ashiru taking the B in a 12.34 PB to add to his high jump win (1.80). Unfortunately the pole vault was cancelled despite the equipment for it being transported from APF.
As usual Woodford scored well in heavy throws. Peter Clarke (56.28) and Fergus Harford again did the double in the men's hammer, with Steph Howe comfortably taking the womens event (43.85). Unfortunately, Emmaline Okafor was unable to make this event but was top points scorer for the team with her other throws, including winning the shot put (9.51). Heptathlete Jade Currie was only on throws duty due to competing in several events the following day at an inter-counties match that seemed to weaken us and Basildon equally, but she took the B shot in 9.39 and added 4m to her javelin PB (30.27). Hugh Williams comfortably took the men's shot (12.55) and was top male points scorer, while U20 Grantas Mockaitis took the B discus (32.25) in his first match with the senior 2k weight.
Our distance men led the way on the track, with double wins in the 5k from James Stockings and Dan Steel, 1500 by Ahmed Adbulle and Angus Holford and, in a delayed 2000m steeplechase while the match still hung in the balance, by Harold Wyber and U17 Rhys Edwards in his debut over barriers, having earlier run the 800. U17s Ben and Sam Sloan also ran PBs at 1500 (4:12.22 and 4:24.36). Elsewhere A string wins were hard to come by on the track, but U17 Matthew Adum-Yeboah won the B 100 and 200. Closest was Adrian Richards, who missed out in the 400m by just 0.01 in 51.13 and also came 2nd in the 200m.
In her debut at 400m, U17 Nicole Alves recorded the fastest time of the day, 60.09. Rebecca Fafowora just missed out in the 100m (13.01), but a deep cut sustained during the triple jump ruled her out of her final two events which proved costly to the overall outcome. Without her the 4x100 team (Temi Olusesan, Rhianna Buaku, Shakkira Sikiru, Denesha Rocastle) still finished a close second in 51.85, marginally improving their best time in this league. The match just slipped out of reach in the women's 4x400m despite a good leg in her debut at the distance by Rhianna Buaku, but the mens 4x400 (Videsh Weerakkody, Lalu Abiodun, Joey O’Neill and Adrian Richards) continued their winning run to finish with a flourish (3:34.51).
Provisional results leave WGEL third in the table, the final promotion position, with two matches left but with multiple teams just behind separated only on countback and Basildon in particular only 4 points adrift. Two wins should be sufficient to ensure promotion, but the next fixture is the furthest afield of the year, at Luton on Saturday 14 July. Success here would set the season up for an exciting conclusion in the club’s final league fixture of the summer, at Woodford on 18 August.