RUGBY & Northampton’s youngsters produced a series of impressive performances at the recent UK Youth Development League Finals at Birmingham’s Alexander Stadium.
There were many fine performances on the national stage in both the under-13/15 and the under-17/20 events.
R&N were one of only two clubs to have teams in both finals, which were contested over the first weekend of September.
On the first Saturday of the month, the U13/15 Finals were held, with R&N finishing in sixth place overall with many of its youngsters competing in their first major final.
Oliver Lambert was the star of the show after triumphing in the U15 80-metre hurdles in 11.13 seconds, which was a new championship record. It was the same result in the ‘B’ race, where Sam Tutt took the honours in 11.60.
There was more success for the ‘B’ string with under-15 athlete Jaime Nalus picking up two sprint victories, taking both the 100m and 200m honours in respective times of 11.69 and 24.03.
The next day saw the U17/20 Finals take place and R&N athletes helped themselves to 49 medals to once again finish sixth in another mightily competitive competition.
There was plenty of gold among those medals, with Adam Wright leading the way courtesy of two ‘A’ string track triumphs. Under-20 athlete Wright won both the 800m and 1,500m, with times of 1:54.51 and 3:59.51 ensuring victory.
Success continued with Isaac Akers taking the honours over 3000m in 8:59.68, while the U17 athletes also impressed around the track.
Jay O’Leary grabbed gold in the 400m hurdles (59.54), and the age group helped themselves to more glory in the 4×100 and 4×400 relays.
Franklin Fenning, Jack Hocking, Aiden Leeson and Tom Cheyne joined forces to take the sprint event in 44.69, before Leeson and Hocking combined with Josh Faulds and Tom Jasper to seal the 4×400 in 3:31.89.
It was not just around the track where R&N were impressing, as U17 women Kiona McLennon, Evie Harris-Jenkins and Eleanor Broome were all victorious in the field.
Harris-Jenkins launched the javelin 38.39 metres to take her place at the top of the podium, Broome leapt 5.86m to claim long jump glory and McLennon’s shot put effort of 12.58m secured another gold medal for the club.
In the men’s U20 long jump, Sam Khogali also brought home the top prize with a jump of 6.73m, to round off a very credible display for the club.
Elsewhere that weekend, the Northampton half marathon took place with ten R&N athletes competing over the 13.1-mile course, and Stephen Marks led the club home with a fine third-place finish, completing the race in 1:16.15.
Held in conjunction with the event was the NAA County Championships, and leading the club to victory in the men’s race was Daniel Mould in ninth place overall (1:20.29), followed by Brendan Moen, who also clinched a silver medal in the M40 race when he recorded 1:21:44 to finish 11th.
Closing off the victorious team was veteran Dave Rayfield, whose time of 1:24:11 was enough for 21st place.
Winning the County bronze medal in the M50 competition was Alan Mould with 1:28:54, which gave him 38th overall, while the remaining four athletes taking part for the club were Steve Dixon (57th – 1:31:20), Alex McMurtrie (83rd in 1:37.05), Bernie Myers (94th in 1:38.54) and Neil Martin (190th in 1:50.06).