The Western Isles track and field season truly started with a bang in Stornoway as over 100 young athletes gathered from across the islands for SRAC’s Open Graded Athletic Meeting.
While the weather was a bit cold with a slight headwind and showers, it didn’t dampen the enthusiasm of the youngsters who had gathered for the season opener, with the Stornoway Running and Athletics Club, the North Uist Athletics Club, the South Uist and Eriskay Athletics Club all well represented, as well as three athletes from new club, Westside Runners.
The first race of the 100m series, saw one of the races of the day, as 2 young talented 12 year old sprinters renewed their already 2 year old rivalry to drive each other on to PBs in the U13 girls, with SRAC’s Sian Macdonald (14.48) doing enough to hold off NUAAC’S Trinity Johnson (14.55). It also sees both girls break in to the national rankings for their age group – at no. 11 and no. 14 respectively. The girl’s U15 race also saw another fine contest as newcomer, NUAAC’s Marina Popova powered throw to pip SRAC’s Mary MacLeod on the line, winning by 3 hundredths of a second in 14.42. The U15 boy’s race saw Andrew Horne show why he’s currently ranked Scotland’s no. 3 U15 100m boy’s sprinter with a commanding win in 12.52.
In the 800m races there was a fine solo run from Ellie MacLean in the U13 girl’s race as she won in a time of 02:38.93, smashing her PB by almost 6 seconds and breaking in to the Scottish U13 girl’s rankings at no. 10. The other stand out 800m race saw 4 talented U17s combine with a veteran of 60 in what was a great race. SRAC’s Connor MacLean took it on right from the gun in a typically strong display of front running. But his training pal, Michael MacMillan tracked his every move, and moved on to Connor’s shoulder a few times during the race. Connor though had enough in the tank to keep Michael at bay this time, and came home first in a PB of 02:00.86. Michael’s consolation was a PB of 02:01.32, with NUAAC’s Paul Morrison chasing them home to record a massive PB of 02:07.60, taking 8 seconds from his previous mark. Next home was Alastair Dunlop in 02:21.81, who wasn’t long back from the World Masters Indoor Championships in Hungary, followed by Peigi McKellar in 02:26.59. All 4 U17s break in to the national rankings on the back of these performances with Connor at 6, Michael at 7, and Paul at 17 for U17 Boys. Peigi meanwhile is at no. 16 in the girl’s U17 rankings.
While the track had had a busy morning there was also plenty going on on the field. One of the most promising performances came from SRAC U15 girl, Annabelle MacKay, with a fine triple jump of 8.43m in her first effort at the event. There was also a very good 1.49m clearance for NUUAC’s Jordan MacPherson in the U15 Boy’s High Jump.
As the afternoon got underway on the track with the 200m, there was another impressive win for Alasdair Rigby in the U17 Boy’s race as he made it a sprint double, coming home in 25.08. His sister, Catriona also took top spot in the U15 girl’s races, powering home in 29.47. The other leading performances came from Andrew Horne in the U15 boy’s race with a time of 25.69, and Trinity Johnson who’s winning time of 30.94 sees her now ranked at no. 35 in the country for U13 girls.
Andrew was also dominant in the Long Jump – his final event of the day - winning with a leap of 5.41m – not far behind the 5.50m that sees him currently ranked at no. 4 in the Scottish rankings for his age group. There was also a good performance from SUEAACs’s Heather Mackinnon, at 4.53m. Heather broke in to the national rankings at no. 13 earlier in the season after a fine 4th place finish with 4.82m at the National U16 Indoor Age Group Championships.
In the javelin competition, it was fantastic to see 15 athletes taking part across the age groups, and representing all 3 main clubs. Even more heartening was seeing SRAC’S Caitlin Mackenzie with the throw of the day – 20.13m - to be top U15 girl. It was a new PB and sees her break in to the national rankings at no. 9 !
There were still more national ranking performances to come in the final events on the track. First up was the mixed 300m. SRAC U15 boy, Ross Budge ran a great race from start to finish to come home first in a massive PB of 43.76 – 7 seconds faster than his previous best ! It also takes Ross to the top of the 300m rankings for Scotland’s U15 boys ! The same race also saw Peigi McKellar - running the distance for the first time - run 45.03 to break in to the national rankings at no. 29; and Catriona Rigby ran a good PB of 46.68 in the U15 girls.
The final event of the day was the 400m race. In what was a fine solo run, SRAC’s Michael MacMillan came home first in 55.49, a time that sees him currently ranked at no. 25 for U17 Boys.
With no fewer than 15 national ranking age group performances from the Western Isles’ next generation of stars, and many other promising ones, the future of athletics is undoubtedly bright ! What other island sport can boast of such success? With a long season ahead, there promises to be much more to come! Watch this space !