An all new Island Select has been born with athletes cherry picked from the length and breadth of the Western Isles to join sporting forces with others from Orkney and Shetland to compete under one island banner in the UK Athletics 8 strong North East division of the Youth Development League.
The historic Island Select were up against a host of big-hitters in the likes of Inverness Harriers and Aberdeen AAC but undeterred they got off to a flier and were leading the U13 and U15 competition after 10 of the 50 scheduled events. The U17 team were also in great form, with all athletes performing well.
As the day unfolded the Inverness Harriers drew level and then went in to slim lead at the half way stage, but the Island Select team continued to compete well and it was truly nip and tuck with the new U13 and U15 team finishing a fantastic second place with 557 points, to the Harriers 598, and an amazing 109 points ahead of Aberdeen who were third .
For the U17s it was an even better outcome as they took top spot with 233 points ahead of Inverness in second with 209 and Aberdeen in third with 171.
The 50 strong Island Select were drawn from the best young athletes at the Stornoway, North Uist, South Uist & Eriskay, and Orkney and Shetland athletics clubs.
SRAC coach, Seumas Mactaggart and Island Select team manager, came up with the idea after seeing how many youngsters were making the grade as part of the Island Games setup in Jersey last year.
“It was really impressive to see how many 15 and 16 year olds from the islands were involved in Jersey, and I knew of many of the other youngsters who were coming through in the Western Isles”, explained Seumas. “So at the start of the year I spoke to the coaches in Shetland and Orkney, and they really liked the concept, and that’s how it all started.”
The Western Isles athletes were a key part to the weekend success. The first action on the track was the hurdles and there was island success from the off. Ross Budge of SRAC set a new PB of 16.9 to take third in the 100m Hurdles A race, with North Uist’s Donald MacMillan taking top spot in the B race in 17.8.
Then in the U13 races, new SRAC star, Gemma MacRitchie took a great win in the U13 70m Hurdles A race in a fantastic 14.2 PB run, and North Uist’s Elisa Morrison took the B race win in 16.2. There was also a good third place for North Uist’s John Scanlon as he had a great 75m hurdles debut run of 15.6 in the B race.
Meanwhile in the field, SRAC’s Ellie MacLean took a good third spot in the A string of the Shot Putt with 7.07m, and North Uist’s Marion MacCorquodale took second place in the B event with 6.81m.
What was arguably the Island Select’s performance of the day though came from Stornoway’s Haran Rabe in the U17 Hammer.
Having stepped in with only days to go to make the trip following a withdrawal from another athlete, and after a five minute coaching session from the Shetland Throws coach, Haran launched the hammer out to a stunning 29.03m debut to take second place and propel himself in to the Scottish hammer top 5 U17 rankings.
Back to the track and it was time for the Western Isles sprinters to line up for the 200m. Amongst the SRAC athletes, Sian MacDonald came home third in 28.3 in the U15G race, with Mary MacLeod also third in the U17W B race in 29.3, and there was a stunning PB win for Andrew Horne in the U17M race as he powered home in 23.4.
North Uist’s youngsters were also doing well – Kevin Beaton took a good fourth place in the U13B A race in 31.2 with Stephen MacIsaac fifth in the B race in 34.1, and Trinity Johnson fourth in the U15G race in 30.1.
Back in the field North Uist’s Finlay MacDonald had a great performance in the Shot putt winning the U13 Boy’s A string with a fantastic PB of 7.27m! The older throwers were also doing well too. In the U17m Shot Putt, North Uist’s Cameron MacInnes threw a fine PB of 9.73m to take third in the A event, with SRAC’s Haran Rabe second in the B event with 8.93m – both PB efforts.
In the Long Jump, Stornoway’s Mary MacLeod took a good second in the U17G event with 4.58m leap, with U15 David Morrison in sixth place in a strong discus A field with a 15.10m throw, and team-mate Ellie MacLean also in sixth place in an equally tough javelin A field with a throw of 16.08m.
Hannah Mayers, better known for her endurance running also did her bit for the team, stepping in to take part in the javelin B event, and picking up valuable points.
In the 800m action, South Uist’s Liam MacKinnon ran to a new PB of 2.49.3 to take second in the U13B B race, and SRAC’s U17W Sophie Graham ran a good solid debut 2.52.3 at the distance to take third place in her B event. There was also a great PB run of 2:18.5 from SRAC U17M Ali Binns as he took a fine second place in the B race.
The 100m then followed on the track with lots of Western Isles interest. North Uist’s Shuan MacDonald was fourth in the A race in 15.2, and was followed by SRAC’s U15G Sian MacDonald who took third in the A race in 13.9, with U15B David Morrison sixth in his A race in a new PB of 13.5.
Team-mate Andrew Horne also had a good run of 12.0 to take third place in the U17M A race, with North Uist’s Donald MacMillan second in the B race in12.8.
North Uist’s U15G Marion MacCorquodale was also having a busy time. After a good 1.25m HJ PB clearance to take fourth place in the B string, she also took sixth place in the Discus A event with a 12.28m throw.
With the day’s events drawing to a close, the last individual events were the 1200m and 1500m. SRAC youngster Gemma MacRitchie had another great run in the U13G 1200m and in an exciting sprint finish, took a third place in the A race in 4.27.0, with South Uist’s Eilidh Campbell running steadily to take second place in the B event in 4.55.2.
In the boy’s race, North Uist’s U13B John Scanlon epitomised what the Island Select team is all about as he stepped in for team-mate Kevin Beaton who had hurt his knee in his 200m race, and bravely ran the 1500m for the first ever time.
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