Mansfield Harriers will be well represented this weekend as the English Schools Athletic Associations holds its 85th Track and Field Championship at the Gateshead International Stadium.
The event is the highlight of the season for any athlete of school age and the meeting has very challenging entry standards with the best of the best competing for national titles.
Nottinghamshire will take a 35-athlete squad with Mansfield Harriers represented by a magnificent seven athletes, of which four will be making debuts at this event.
Leading the way for Mansfield will be Archie Rayner who goes in the inter-boys’ 1500m.
Archie will be looking to qualify safely in his heat on Friday and be competitive in the final on Saturday. This will be one of the highlight races of the weekend as the field is incredibly strong this year, with several athletes in with a chance of winning.
Luke Duffy will also be very competitive in the 1500m as he races in the junior boys’ event.
Like Archie, Luke will be looking for safe passage through the heats into Saturday’s final where he will look to be in the mix at the sharp end of the race.
This is Luke’s debut at this event and he has shown a 13 second improvement from last year to qualify.
Alex Rieley is the third 1500m competitor at the event, competing in the senior boys’ event, having last competed at junior level.
Alex has had a superb year, taking his best down by a huge 14 seconds from 4.12 to 3.58 to achieve the qualifying standard. Alex will not have to go through heats so will be looking to put all his effort into Saturday’s final.
In the girls’ events Ella Hughes competes in the senior girls’ 1500m.
Ella had a breakthrough season last year on the track and will be looking to improve on last year’s performance of eighth in the final. Again this is a straight final and Ella goes into the event looking for a strong performance and a high finish.
The fifth athlete competing in the 1500m is Bethany Williams in the inter-girls’ race.
This is Beth’s debut at the event and her selection is a fantastic reward for the hard work and improvement she has put in over the last 12 months on the track.
Beth will be looking to be competitive at the event and look to use this as a stepping stone in her continual development.
May Roberts completes the six-strong middle distance squad from Mansfield competing for the county, running in the inter-girls’ 800m event.
After a very difficult start to the season May has blossomed in recent weeks and has knocked huge chunks out of her 800m time to qualify for the first time for the meeting and will be looking for another strong performance.
Daisy Smith makes up the Mansfield contingent, competing in the junior girls’ long jump event. Daisy is another athlete making her debut at the event and has earned her selection by achieving a distance of 5.11m this year - a huge improvement from her best of last season of 4.56m.
Daisy competes in the heats on Friday hoping to put in the big leap that will get her into the final.
With six of the seven athletes able to compete next year, several other near misses this year and some highly talented U13s coming through to the junior age group next year, the club can be confident of continuing success at these championships and other local and regional competitions.