The warm weather at Bury AC’s Market Street track saw a scorching performance from Bury’s athletes in the first North of England Track and Field League fixture on Saturday. Competing against Border Harriers, Burnley AC, Kendal AC, Pendle AC and Stockport the Bury team secured a breath-taking, winning by just 8 points from Pendle (418.5 v 410.5). Team Manager, Giles Bennett, was delighted with performance with Bury for once fielding athletes in every event; a tactic that paid off and engendered a superb team spirit.

Bury got off to a winning start with Nicola Quick winning the pole vault with a height of 2.10.  In the men’s hammer Paul Horrocks made a welcome return to competition taking 3rd in the A event with a throw of 29.39. Matt Alcock, in his debut in the event took 4th place in the B pool.  In the women’s long jump Lizzie Cheshire took 2nd place in the A event with a marvellous 4.82 leap. Nicola Quick, shrugged off the effects of a quad strain, took 4th in the B event with 3.69. Young James Coghlan made his debut in the senior team with an excellent leap of 5.31 to take 3rd in the men’s A long jump and Ben Coop in his first time at the event producing a brilliant 5.10 effort to take 3rd in the B event, just 1 cm off 2nd place! Ruth Worthington took 3rd place in the A women’s hammer event with a throw of 19.54 and distance runner Jenny Yates scored invaluable points taking 2nd in the B event with a throw of 16.23.

The first event on the track was the women’s 400m hurdles and the event saw a marvellous double for Bury with Lizzie Cheshire winning the A race in 78.8 and young Chloe Fairhurst winning the B in 84.5, in her senior debut. Not to be outshone, Mike Hunter produced a strong run to with the men’s A race (67.7) and Mark Johnson, making his debut at the event as an over 50 took 2nd in the B race (97.8). The next track event was the women’s 800m and this also saw a double Bury victory. Christie Cook lead from gun to tape to win the A race in a season’s best of 2.25.2 and Nicola Harland showed the rest of the field a clean pair of heels in the B event (2.38.4).

The action switched back to the field and in the men’s A discus Paul Horrocks took a brilliant second with his fifth round throw of 27.51. Matt Alcock again scored vital points taking 6th in the B event (13.65).

Back on the track Ben Coop ran strongly to take 3rd place in a new best of 2.02.6 – underlying the clear potential he has at this distance. In the B race, young Oliver Makinson took 4th in the B race in his senior debut at the event in a very promising 2.15.1. Next came the women’s 100m sprints with yet another Bury double. Jenna Allen-Cartwright won the A race (13.3) with Lizzie Cheshire winning the B in 13.8. Hashim Shah maintained the momentum, winning the A 100m for men and smashing his previous best with an 11.6 performance. Young Oliver Kirby in his senior debut took 4th in the B race with 13.2. Giles Bennett took a brief break from his team manager duties to compete in his first 100m, taking 2nd in the non-scoring race with a nippy 12.8.

Mike Hunter was Bury’s sole competitor in the men’s high jump, but scored crucial points taking 6th with a jump of 1.40. In the women’s shot Nicola Quick took 3rd in the A event with a putt of 6.95. Ruth Worthington took 2nd in the B with an excellent  6.00 effort.  Lizzie Cheshire took 2nd in the women’s A triple jump with her third round leap of 9.63 and Mariella Digioia won the B event  with an excellent debut performance of 8.85.

Mark Johnson and Les Smalley took on the gruelling 3000m steeplechase, with Les taking 3rd in the A string with 12.46.9 and Mark winning the B with 13.37.5. It was the first time both men had tried the event and their strong performances typified the team spirit on the day. Lizzie Cheshire returned to the track to take 2nd in the A 100m hurdles with a time of 20.6 – just 1 second off her best performance. In the women’s discus Ruth Worthington took 4th in the A event (16.97) with Pam Hitchin taking 3rd in the B event with an excellent 16.38.

The 3000m strong runs from Katie Geelan and Jenny Yates behind the talented Burnley duo. Katie took 2nd place in the A string in 11.27.8  a position matched by Jenny in the B who smashed her previous best by nearly 50 seconds with a run of 12.10.2.  The men’s high hurdlers then took the track for their 110m race. Mike Hunter took 2nd in the A race with a time of 24.6. In the field Paul Horrocks took 3rd in the A shot with a putt of 8.20. In the B event, triathlete and Ironman Nigel Brady made his debut, taking 5th with a 6.11 effort.


Viola Melingi – clear winner of the 400m

The women’s 400m races saw dominant Bury performances. Viola Melinghi was over 5 seconds clear of the field winning the A race in 64.8.  Nicola Harland similarly eclipsed the opposition in the B race winning at a canter in 66.0. In the men’s races Ben Coop scored valuable points taking 2nd in the A race in a new best of 51.7. Oliver Kirby ran well to take 3rd in the B race in a pb of 61.5. The men’s 1500m was the next event on the track. Benn Heywood took 3rd in the A race, just missing his personal best with 4.28.3. Iestyn Rimmer, another younger athlete making his Northern League debut, took 4th in the B race in a new best time of 5.09.7.

In the men’s javelin Paul Horrocks scored even more points for team, taking 3rd in the A event with his first round throw of 30.57. Nigel Brady, making his debut in the event, took 4th in the B string with 17.01. Mariella Digioia took a very important joint 2nd in the A high jump for women, with a 1.20 performance.

The women’s 1500m saw another powerful run from Katie Geelan to take 2nd in the A event with 5.23.4 passing B event winner Lucy Alcock in the home straight. Lucy, making her senior debut just missed out on a new pb with an excellent 5.24.7, having bravely taken on the early pace in the event.

Mike Hunter produced an excellent series in the triple jump, ending with a fine 9.22 to take 3rd place in the A event.  The women’s 200m races again saw excellent Bury performances. Jenna Allen-Cartwright took 2nd in the A race with a new pb of 27.5, and Teegan Brady set a new season’s best of 28.2 in winning the B race. In the men’s races, Hashim Shah smashed his pb with an excellent 23.9 to take 2nd in the A event. Middle distance runner Benn Heywood took 2nd in the B race with an impressive 24.3 debut, only 30 minutes after his 1500m race!

The final individual event on the track was the men’s 5000m and at this time Bury and Pendle were vying neck and neck for first team place. Jim Ardin ran a tactically perfect race, making up nearly 50m lost ground on the Pendle athlete and then kicking away hard from him over the last 300 m to take 3rd place overall in 16.36.2. B string competitor Byron Edwards took 2nd place with 17.52.1, critically two places ahead of the Pendle B runner.

In the women’s javelin, Nicola Quick took 4th in the A event (24.59) and Jenny Yates continued the crucial point scoring by winning the B event (21.58).

In the sprint relays , Bury’s women’s team of Lizzie, Viola, Mariella and Jenna produced a superb effort to secure victory ahead of the second placed Pendle team in a time of 54.8. In the men’s event  the Bury team of Mike, Ben, Jack Griffiths and Hashim took a close second (48.8) behind the Border team, but held off the Pendle team.

The women’s 4 x 400 m relay team simply ran away from the opposition, finishing nearly a minute ahead the second placed team. The Bury squad of Christie, Viola, Lizzie and Nicola recorded a time of 4.23.5 and, crucially, Pendle took 3rd place. However, the men’s team could only manage 4th place behind the winners Pendle. The Bury quartet of Ben, Iestyn, Jack and Benn posted a finishing time of 3.52.8 but scored enough points for the team to hold on to the overall first place for the fixture.

The second Northern Track and Field League fixture is at Preston on Sunday 5th June. Next weekend will see Bury competitors at the Greater Manchester Track and Field Championships at Macclesfield.