Amelia Campbell has not lost since the NAL was reformed for 2021. Photo: Getty for UKA

TVH and Harrow set up thrilling Premiership title decider

Written by Alex Seftel

NAL Premiership Round 2 – Woodford

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Results on OpenTrack

Harrow AC and Thames Valley Harriers (TVH) set up a thrilling NAL Premiership title decider after the latter club won the second match of the season at Woodford.

The result follows Harrow winning the opening fixture at Eton last month.

But victories were widely spread across seven of the eight clubs present, with consistency and squad depth triumphing on the day.

TVH’s UK shot put champion Amelia Campbell extended her perfect NAL record to 11 wins from 11 competitions with a best effort of 16.92m.

Olympic Games-bound Yemi Mary John helped host club Woodford Green with Essex Ladies (WGEL) win the new mixed 4x400m relay event, while UK hammer champion Jake Norris won his fifth NAL match for Windsor, Slough, Eton and Hounslow (WSEH).

For a while, Harrow looked worthy of top spot, with European under-20 100m champion Joy Eze enjoying herself over the longer sprint. The British Universities (BUCS) champion improved her 200m personal best from 23.61s to 23.46 in taking victory.

She wasn’t the only one of their squad to give the performance of their life. Terry Fawden went sub-six minutes in the 2000m steeplechase for the first time, winning in 5:56.63, before javelin winner Conor Martin achieved a throw of 66.57m, his furthest ever.

Birchfield Harriers and Blackheath and Bromley Harriers (BBH) had finished sixth and eighth at Eton, but both clubs lifted their performances this time to continually beat the two title favourites.

Dillon Claydon won the discus for Blackheath and Bromley. Photo: Getty for UKA

BUCS champion Dillon Claydon gave BBH their first win of the afternoon, throwing the discus 51.27m to beat Glasgow Jaguars’ Andrew Peck (48.36m).

2023 BUCS 800m champion Angus Harrington may not care too much for the time, but his 1:51.14 effort over two laps helped BBH consolidate third place in the match, as did a lockout of top spots across the men’s and women’s 100m.

Last year, Luke Dorrell won at Woodford in a 10.13 windy personal best (+7.4), so he might have been somewhat bemused to again clock a windy time of 10.24 (+2.9), with the wind lessening slightly when Kieran Gowan Wade won the B race (10.53 +2.6).

Jennifer Eduwu shaded Darcey Kuypers at last month’s South of England Championships, and this time the BBH pair both took first place in identical times of 11.61s, winning the A and B race respectively.

Birchfield Harriers were very strong on the track, too. European under-20 4x400m gold medallist Jake Minshull won the 400m hurdles in 50.47s, further improving on his lifetime best which had been 51.73 before the start of this season.

Behind him, Glasgow Jaguars’ Bradley Francis – the Scottish students champion – lowered his best from 52.85 to 51.79.

There was more success for the Birmingham club as Turks and Caicos record holder Yanique Haye-Smith then clocked 59.18 to beat WSEH’s Orla Brennan.

In-fact BBH’s B race winner Alex Hill was the only athlete who could prevent Birchfield from taking a clean sweep of all four 400m hurdles races, with Tobie Watson taking the second men’s race and Louise Robinson the runner up in the women’s B event.

William Ritchie-Moulin was the sole athlete to go sub-14 seconds in the 110m hurdles, with a 13.99 clocking making him sound like an item in a discount supermarket, while Efe Okoro and Amy Hillyard continued their side’s one-lap dominance in the 400m flat, winning in 46.72 and 53.58.

But lower scores in other events meant Birchfield slipped down the overall order, allowing the likes of WGEL to capitalise and move up to fourth.

The home side won the first and last events of the afternoon. 2023 UK indoor champion Mary Elcock equalled her long jump personal best with a furthest jump of 6.04m to get the ball rolling, before world under-20 400m champion John benefitted from good practice for the Olympic Games with the aforementioned mixed 4x400m relay victory.

Between those bookending pieces of action, 43-year-old Tosin Oke, who clinched the 2010 Commonwealth title for Nigeria, won the triple jump with 15.64m.

In-form Jake Norris has won all of his NAL hammer competitions. Photo: Getty for UKA

WSEH had been tipped to do well in the field events and their best of the day came through UK champion Norris’ winning the hammer with 76.71m – making it his third best ever competition.

Tokyo 2020 Olympian Taylor Campbell continued his return to the sport after a lengthy injury spell by finishing third behind his teammate with 65.26m.

UK silver medallist Charlotte Payne matched Norris’ feat – her 68.97m put her more than six metres ahead of the rest of the field as Windsor consolidated fifth position – also thanks to Phoebe Dowson’s surprise win in the discus with 54.10m.

Dowson beat TVH’s Jade Lally for the first time in 34 career attempts, with BBH’s UK silver medallist Zara Obamakinwa third and Sale Harriers’ Kirsty Law fourth. It was the second time in 38 career attempts that Dowson had beaten Law.

All of that success for other clubs meant that it wasn’t until three hours into the programme that Thames Valley won a track event.

Former English Schools’ medallist Kosana Weir shaded the women’s 3000m in 9:27.25, finishing ahead of WGEL’s Bea Wood, which helped to open the floodgates somewhat.

PositionClubLeague PointsMatch Points
1Thames Valley Harriers151218.5
2Harrow AC151208.5
3Windsor, Slough, Eton & Hounslow9878.5
4Woodford Green with Essex Ladies9878
5Glasgow Jaguars9874
6Blackheath & Bromley Harriers 7800.5
7Sale Harriers4749
8Birchfield Harriers4692

UK indoor triple jump champion Lily Hulland’s 13.07m jump was good for 12 points, while TVH triumphed in the men’s 4x100m, only for Harrow to squeeze the gap again by winning the women’s sprint relay.

Beth Ansell won the women’s 800m for Jaguars in 2:08.15, stopping TVH’s Adela Svihalkova from obtaining back-to-back NAL wins, but the Scottish side’s best moment of the day perhaps came in the men’s long jump.

2019 European under-20 finalist Stephen Mackenzie led a Jaguars one-three. His best of 7.49m was five centimetres ahead of Harrow’s James Lelliott and 14 centimetres clear of teammate Murray Fotheringham.

Sale took second in the men’s 100m through Nicholas Walsh in 10.35, with Seun Okome the runner up to Oke in the triple jump with 15.45m.

TVH won the second-round match by 51 points, meaning they are level on 15 league points in the overall standings with Harrow, given that both have had a first and a second place so far.

As a result, it goes down to match points, and Thames Valley lead by 10 of these, as Harrow beat them by a lesser margin of 41 points at Eton.

The final match of the season will be on August 3rd in Birmingham.