A squad of 14 of Stornoway Running and Athletics Club’s (SRAC) top youngsters once again headed across the Minch in search of top junior athletics competition as they took part in the U13, U15 and U20 Scottish Age Group Championships at Grangemouth on the 20th and 21st of August.
With the action happening over two days, Saturday saw the U13s in action, along with some of the U20 events too, and the weather was somewhat mixed.
While the sun was shining back at home with the hottest day of the year, Grangemouth was chilly and there were to be some heavy showers over the course of the day.
First up was the 100m heats and the first SRAC athlete on the track was U13G Mary Anne MacPhail – who was making her national championships debut!
Mary Anne ran really well coming home 6th in a very tight heat, narrowly missing out on a place in the semi-finals by 4 hundredths of a second. Her fine 15.04 time was just outside her PB.
In the U20 100m heats, Mary MacLeod, Jonathan Morrison and Andrew Horne were all in action.
The standard was very high, and the SRAC sprinters all found it tough going in the blustery conditions, with no-one running to their full potential and making it beyond the heats. It was just one of those days.
In the field, U17 Annabel MacKay has a great series of jumps with 3 over 9.60m in the U20 TJ competition, gaining more valuable experience at this level and off the 9m board.
Her best was another SB equalling 9.68m, reinforcing her ranking of 14 in the Scottish U17 rankings.
Back on the track and it was another of SRAC’s U13 debutants who was in action.
As well as experiencing her first National Age Group Championships, Kirsty MacLean who has been doing well in Xcountry and over 1200m, was running an 800m for the first time.
She ran fantastically well, despite some horribly wet conditions, finishing 3rd in her heat in a time of 2.58.20, with signs of more to come on a drier day !
Moving on to the afternoon, and the girl’s U13 hurdles were eagerly awaited by the SRAC contingent.
Earlier in the year at the North Districts Championships 3 of SRAC’s youngsters – Mary Anne MacPhail (gold), Gemma MacRitchie (silver), and Krysta Bray (bronze) - had created history in taking a clean podium sweep, the first time ever for the Western Isles club, with the girls all progressing to record performances over the season which saw them all ranked in the top 30 in Scotland.
While the girls were unfortunately all drawn in the same heat, they all ran extremely well. Gemma MacRitchie though had the standout performance as she really went for it from the gun.
With a fine display of hurdling and speed between the barriers, she won the race in a fantastic PB time of 12.59, qualifying 3rd fastest for the final later that afternoon. Krysta Bray was really unfortunate to miss out on a place in the final as she was out dipped for the automatic place for the second placed runner by a mere one hundredth of a second to finish 3rd in 31.21, and Mary Anne MacPhail also hurdled well to take a good 4th place in 13.71.
Fellow U13 girl Kirsty MacLean was next in action in the 200m and despite heavy showers and unpleasant conditions again for poor Kirsty she ran really well in another new event for her, coming home in 32.52.
Meanwhile in the field, there was some great consistent jumping by U17 Mary MacLeod in the U20 Long Jump competition . She made the final 8 and had 4 jumps over 4.60m, her best of 4.68m a best of the season and an agonising 1cm of her PB !
The performance also sees Mary currently ranked 26 in Scotland.
The Saturday SRAC action then finished with the U13 girls’ 70m hurdles final, and a big occasion for Ness youngster Gemma MacRitchie who’s had a great season.
It was a very competitive race, and Gemma again ran well with another sub 13 second time, finishing 7th in a tight finish in 12.93, and the achievement of having made a national final will have gained her so much experience and confidence which will stand her in good stead for the future. Her earlier PB in the heat also now sees her ranked 10th in Scotland.
The second day of action saw the SRAC U15s in action with the remaining U20 events, and the promise of a drier day in Grangemouth. First up was the girls’ 100m U15 heats with Angela Horne in the first heat and Sian MacDonald in the second one, and both Stornoway girls ran well to make the semi-finals.
Angela came through 3rd in her heat in 13.90, with Sian second in hers in 13.50.
Indeed that was the next SRAC action on the track, a couple of hours later with the weather certainly better. It was a very high standard in the U15 girls sprints semis with sub 13 times needed to advance. The SRAC girls again did well and got valuable experience, with Sian 3rd in her race in 13.46 and Angela 8th in hers in 14.13, and with another year in the age group, this was again valuable experience for Angela.
U15 SRAC middle distance runner, David Morrison has been a consistent improver all year in this his first year in the age group, and his 2.17.95 run to finish in 4th place in his heat was a fine one and a half second PB which sees him ranked at no. 56 in the country.
U20 Peigi McKellar was again back in action following her season opener at the Senior Championships the previous week, and in a consistent run she came home 5th in her heat in a marginally better time of 2:28:53.
There was more Long Jump action in the field, this time with U15 Angela Horne. The blustery conditions proved difficult for her to hit the board, with her 4.19m opening jump her best and a good performance on the day.
Next up was the the U15 boys 1500m, and Aodhan Finnegan was in action for SRAC coming home 10th in a time of 5:06.81.
Conditions were a bit showery for the U15G girls 200m heats. Sian MacDonald in the final heat ran a controlled race, to come home 3rd in 28.06, knowing top 3 qualifies for the semi-finals.
However having picked up a slight injury, Sian then sat out the semi-finals – a tough one for the SRAC youngster who has enjoyed a good season.
Another SRAC athlete who has been in great form was the final Stornoway athlete on the track. U17 Andrew Horne was racing up an age group, and a good 23.63 run saw him finish 6th in a tight heat, just missing out on a place in the final by 6 hundredths of a second.
So another good showing by the island youngsters on a National stage, and SRAC would like to thanks the Lewis and Harris Sports Council for their support, and also the local councillors who have supported the club, as well as the parents and coaches.
The track and field season finishes in Stornoway next week on September 10th with SRAC hosting an Open Graded Meet at the running track at the Lewis Sports Centre.
All are welcome to take part, entry forms can be found on the SRAC website and at the Lewis Sports Centre.