A six-strong team of Lewis athletes from the Nicolson Institute shone on the national stage this week with a series of star showings at the Emirates Arena in Glasgow.
The six-sational crop of athletes - all members of the Stornoway Running and Athletics Club (SRAC) - was the biggest the school has sent to this event, with the trip being organised by teacher and SRAC member, Katy MacKenzie, and accompanied by fellow teacher Alasdair Campbell.
The sprinters and jumpers weren’t over-awed in any way by the national stage, and the same stage which hosted the televised Indoor International competition between the USA, Great Britain, Scotland and a Commonwealth select team just two weeks earlier, and there wasn’t much sign of ring rust, as they literally hit the ground running in their first competitive outings of the 2014 season.
First up in the morning were the short sprints over 60m. In the U16 Boys training pals Alasdair Rigby and Andrew Horne found themselves in the same heat. Both ran well, recording good PBs of 7.76 and 7.79 with Andrew just pipping Alasdair.
Neither though made it through to the semi-finals despite these fine runs. Up stepped the girls and they showed the boys how to do it, with Eilidh MacLeod (U16), and Jenny Mactaggart and Abbie MacKay (O16) qualifying for the semi-finals.
While the girls all had good runs in the semis, they didn’t have quite enough speed to make the finals over the short sprint, but it was never the less a great showing at national level.
Next up for Abbie was the O16 Girls Long Jump and she was inspired, jumping a massive PB of 4.97m - an Island Games qualifying standard – to finish 8th. As one of the youngest in the competition Abbie will return to the competition next year with lots of confidence.
Meanwhile in the U16 Boys Long Jump competition, Andrew Horne kept the NI feel good factor going with a massive leap of 5.50m to break his own PB by almost half a metre, and finish a fantastic 6th in his first indoor national competition – an amazing achievement. Andrew can also look forward to another year as an Under 16 next year.
Another making his indoors debut was Ross Mactaggart who was tackling the 400m for the first time ever in the U16 Boys. He took the new event in his stride and ran really well, taking third in his heat with a time of 56.20, and just missed out on making the six-man final, with his time ranked 8th overall.
After a well deserved break in the early afternoon, it was time for the 200m metre sprints, and the Nicolson athletes continued their fine form, with three of the four sprinters competing making it through to the semi-finals. In the U16 Boys Alasdair Rigby won his heat to progress and Ross Mactaggart was second in his. Meanwhile Jenny Mactaggart also qualified comfortably in second in her heat in the O16 Girls.
Alasdair and Ross found themselves in the same semi, and both ran fantastically well in their head to head, recording news PBs of 24.70 and 25.15 with Alasdair finshing 4th and Ross 5th.
Next up was Jenny who ran a controlled race to take 3rd and make the O16 girls 200m final !
Jenny went on to finish 6th in the national final – a fantastic achievement - and a fitting end to what had been a wonderful day for the Nicolson pupils and SRAC juniors.