The sixty-strong team competed in the final against the top under-13/15 and under-17 teams in Scotland in the prestigious final.
Both the U13 and U15 team, and the U17 teams made it through from the three match North East division of eight clubs, finishing second overall to get to the national finals, a well deserved reward to the countless hours of hard work put in by each and every athlete in both training and the gruelling journey’s across the water.
Half of the squad was from the Western Isles with 30-youngsters picked from Stornoway’s, North and South Uist’s and Eriskay’s Athletic’s Club. The other half came from Orkney and Shetland.
The new initiative has been an amazing journey for all, and to qualify for both finals was a massive achievement in itself. This platform was another great opportunity for our youngsters to continue to develop and grow and show the fantastic athletic talent we have here in the Scottish islands, which is what it was all about, and they didn’t disappoint on the day.
The first events were taking part in the field, and it wasn’t long before a youngster from North Uist was on top of the podium with a gold medal round his neck. U13 Finlay MacDonald has had a great season, and is currently ranked no. 4 in the country for shot put, and his joy at taking top spot was there for all to see.
Meanwhile the first action on the track was the hurdles, and the standard was extremely high. With a strong gusting wind behind the athletes as well, the conditions were pretty challenging.
Amongst the U13s, Stornoway’s Krysta Bray, who is ranked at 16 in the country, had the top run. Running her fastest time ever of 12.46 to finish fourth in the A race. The wind speed was disappointingly was just over the legal limit, so a windy PB – the story for so many on the day.
Krysta’s Island Select team-mate, Elisa Morrison from North Uist also had a great run in the B race, taking a massive one and half seconds of her PB with a rare legal wind reading! Using her natural speed, Elisa’s improved hurdling consistency and stride pattern was the key to her new PB time of 13.60 as she broke in to the national rankings at no. 29.
Another North Uist athlete who had a good run was U13 John Scanlon who dipped under 15 seconds for the first time with a time of 14.99 to finish 2nd in the B race. Another windy PB for John who is currently ranked at 27 nationally.
Amongst the older Western Isles hurdlers, SRAC’s Ellie MacLean had a good run to come home sixth in a fast A U15G race in 13.60, with Trinity Johnson also taking sixth place in the B race in 14.14.
Out in the field the action was happening thick and fast. SRAC’s U15 Daniel Stewart did fantastically well with a High Jump PB of 1.41m as he took fifth place in the B event. This was an improvement of 6cm in what’s a new event for Daniel. Meanwhile his SRAC team-mate Haran Rabe took fourth place in the U17 Hammer competition with a thrown of 23.18m. With Haran disappointed in his best effort, having bettered it by over 5 metres earlier in the season, it shows the level that our youngsters are aiming for.
Back on the track, and next up was the long sprints. Having just done her hurdles, SRAC U13 girl, Krysta Bray had a cracking run in the 150m with another windy PB of 21.99 as she finished sixth in the B race. U15 Stornoway girl Sian MacDonald also had a great run in her 200m B race in a time of 27.37, and there was also a great run from Andrew Horne who took a fine second place and a silver medal in a top quality U17 220m A race in 23.52.
In the field there was news of another medal with North Uist’s U17 boy, Cameron MacInnes taking third place and a bronze in the Shot Put with a fine effort of 9.63m.
The 800m races were now underway on the track. SRAC’s U17 boy, Alasdair Binns was in action in the B race and as is always the case with Ali he gave it his all with a really gutsy run to knock just over a second and a half of his previous best, coming home fourth in 2.15.52. U15 Stornoway training partner, David Morrison also had a good run, taking 3rd in the B race, with a PB run of 2.19.35.
A measure of the benefit of these top class opportunities and what they mean for the island youngsters was very much evident in arguably the top two Island Select performances of the day which came over the 800m.
U17 Shetland lad Seumas MacKay smashed his already impressive PB by almost 5 seconds, finishing third in the A race in 2.01.95 in a stunning effort and a great race to watch. This now sees Seumas ranked at no. 12 in the country.
Orkney U15 girl Tegan Spence’s gutsy run to win the U15G 800m A race in 2.22.20 in the final strides was another brilliant effort as she bettered her PB by two seconds, with Tegan having made an unbelievable improvement of almost 20 seconds from her 2015 best. Tegan is now ranked as the no. 13 in the country among the Scottish U15 girls.
In Long Jump action SRAC U15 girl Sian MacDonald had a great series of jumps, and her 4.60m best effort was a season best, and her second best jump ever. Another SRAC athlete who is just getting to grips with the high jump was U15 girl Angela Horne, and she had a great competition, coming away with a 6cm PB of 1.31m.
Fellow U15 islander Marion MacCorquodale was also doing well in the field events. She set a new PB of 7.67m to take sixth place in the Shot Putt, a performance that sees her ranked at 43 in the country. She also threw a new PB of 16.17m in the discus as did her club-mate Trinity Johnson (13.98m) – with both girls finishing 6th in the A and B events. South Uist’s U13 thrower, Ryan Macintyre was also in great form.
His 22.66m javelin throw was a PB as he took fourth in the A event.
In the 100m sprints there were a number of Western Isles athletes in action with the top performances coming from the SRAC sprint squad.
U15G Sian MacDonald had another great run in the 100m A race , taking fourth place in a windy PB time of 13.28. In the U17 races there was another good silver medal performance from Andrew Horne in the A race with a time of 11.81, with training partner Mary MacLeod winning the girl’s U17 B race in 13.58 to take gold! Mary then went on to take bronze in the Long Jump event with a fine 4.62m leap in the A event.
As the individual events came to a close, Stornoway U15 girl Isla Budge’s 1500m effort was the pick of the performances from the Western Isles athletes over the longer middle distance event.
Her 5.27.43 run to take seventh in a high quality A race was a PB of 7 seconds – another gutsy determined run.
With the relays the final events, the matches were pretty tight with only a few points separating the teams between third and sixth place. The many new cross islands friendships was also great to see, and there’s no doubt that this new initiative has been a massive success, and is something that can be built on for next year.
In the end the U13 / U15 team finished in sixth place, with the U17 team securing third place by a matter of points.