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Great team spirit

Monday 18 July 2016

Cardiff's UK Youth Development League (lower age group) team travelled to Cheltenham on Saturday last, 16th July, for the fourth and final round of this year's campaign.

Team Managers Jen Stone and Annie Hillman thought that the team, weakened through absences, would struggle but a great team spirit throughout the day saw the squad come through to finish an excellent second behind league leaders Swansea, who go on to the national final. Cardiff has an outside chance of joining them, depending on a paper comparison of all the runners up.

After leaving the grey of Cardiff, Cheltenham enjoyed a day of sunshine (albeit with some wind) and the team finished on a high note with the 4x300m under 15 boys' team of Joseph Coope-Franklin, Harvey Reynolds, Harry Griffiths and Daniel John storming to victory by 150m in a time of 2:37.9, a club record, which places them in third place on the UK rankings, just behind second place Blackheath & Bromley's 2:37.3 and not far behind Windsor Slough Eton & Hounslow's leading tme of 2:36.7.

The match result was:

1. Swansea H & AC (660)
2. Cardiff AAC (548)
3. Cardiff Archers (506)
4. Cheltenham & County AC (476)
5. South Wales (234)
6. North Somerset AC (233)

The overall result for the season is:

1. Swansea H & AC (23)
2. Cardiff AAC (20)
3. Cardiff Archers (17)
4. Cheltenham & County AC (12)
5. South Wales (8)
6. North Somerset AC (4)

Cardiff's individual event winners were:

Under 15 boys: Daniel John (200m A & 300m A); Joseph Coope-Franklin (200m B); Harvey Reynolds (300m B); Ben Reynolds (1500m A); Louis Spencer (1500m B); Ben Hillman (Long Jump A & 80m hurdles B); Evan Morgan (Discus A); Tyler Santos (Javelin A); Jonathan Gibson (High Jump A & Long Jump B); Adam Mohsin (High Jump B).

Under 15 Girls: Nia Grundy (100m A); Cassey Grimwade (Discus A); Emma Fitzherbert (Javelin B); Grace Leggett (Pole Vault B).

Under 13 Girls: Elen James (800m B); Eden Williams (1200m A); Lily Gregson (Javelin B); Holly Medina (High Jump A).

The official results can be seen here:

A selection of photographs can be seen here.

The team managers reports:

Girls - Jen Stone:

The preparation for this match was difficult with many athletes unavailable for selection, especially in the U13 age group.  However, those that did compete gave their all, with many filling in slots that they had never done before… but more of that later!

AJ could not be in attendance and only had six boys in the U13 age group, whereas I was ‘lucky’ with nine U13 girls.  Annie Hillman and I spent the bus journey from rainy Cardiff to sunny, but windy, Cheltenham cajoling our Fab Fifteen into filling the gaps.  There was no hesitation –“I’m no good at it but I’ll have a go” – it was going to be a team effort, that’s for sure.

The athletes did not disappoint.  They all ran/threw/jumped their hearts out, the pride of wearing the Cardiff AAC vest spurring them on.  The atmosphere was one of fun and enjoyment – just what athletics at this age is meant to be. 

There were two highlights of the day for me. Emmanuella Kone provided the comedy moment of the season in the 75m Hurdles and how she managed to clear the last hurdle from a standing start showed the determination that was shown throughout the day.  The other was Charlie Russell.  He was asked to do the long jump or the 1500m – he opted for the 1500m, which is no mean feat for anyone let alone a thrower!  He finished the race – his position was not important – and he gained valuable points for the team.

Thank you to all who competed, supported and officiated. 

I was very proud of everyone and hope that the Mr Freezes enjoyed on the bus ride home helped cool everyone off!

This league is very important to the club as it is an opportunity for our young athletes to compete in a national league with top clubs; with all competing through the season for the cherished places in the National League Final.  Winners of each division automatically progress to the final.  We won the Midlands Premier SW League last year and enjoyed our day in the Final managing fifth place – that’s fifth place in the whole of the UK! 

This year we are not so lucky as our second place today ensured that we have finished runners up to Swansea AC.  Our only chance to be in the final is to be the winner of a paper match – which in effect is the winner of all second placed clubs in all of the YDL league tables nationally.  We have a nervous wait until the end of July when the final league matches have been played out to see who we are up against.

Boys - Annie Hillman / AJ

Some matches are easy. Some matches are stress-free. For some matches, everyone's available, and the team practically picks itself.

This match was none of those....

As the selection emails went out, the replies came back very quickly... "Sorry AJ, holiday, holiday, injured, holiday, SIAB, injured, holiday..."

Oh boy... here we go again...

This is the side of team managing that most people don't see. As TMs, we could say, "oh well, let's leave it at that".  But, we don't. We keep trying to fill those gaps, to the last second. And we do it for one reason; we do it because those who will put on the vest deserve the effort.

No matter who is not available, we still have lots of heroes and champions who will be available...

Under 13 Boys

As with the under 15 boys, our two highest point scorers were missing; Luca enjoying a well earn break in NYC! and Ben Vincent cheering on big brother James who was flying the Welsh flag at SIAB.

We could not have asked for better heroes than the six under 13 boys that did compete in Cheltenham. "I'm not very good at it, but I'll give it ago", is what every team manager dreams of. Ben Hughes - Shot, Long Jump? No problem. Louis - High Jump? No problem. Jacob - Long Jump? No problem. Jay - High Jump? No problem. Lloyd – Javelin? No problem. The biggest hero of the day? Charlie - 1500m; no problem.

I have never seen that before. NONE of those are the events that they were selected for. And most were trying these out for the first time. Today wasn't about PB or personal performances for the Under 13 boys; this one was for Cardiff AAC.

If we do get to the Final again this year, these six boys will be the unsung heroes that we all need to thank for making sure we got there.

Under 15 Boys

Just like the under 13 boys, our two biggest point scorers were missing; Luca injured and the ever present Lloyd Clarke missing for the first time that I can recall.

But, even without Luca and Lloyd, the under 15 boys are still a very strong team. With Welsh champions and club record holders aplenty.

Speaking of club records, there was a very special one! A time of 2:37.9 in the 4x300m, gives Joseph Coope-Franklin, Harvey Reynolds, Harry Griffiths and Daniel John a slice of Cardiff AAC history. The previous record was held by Jake Heyward and Jordan Fender amongst others. Well done to the 2016 Fab Four!

Elsewhere, there were some excellent individual performances; PBs for Joseph and Harvey and Carter in the 100m. Daniel John ran the 200m for the first time this season, with a brilliant time of 23.9. Joseph was also a whisker outside his PB in the B race. Daniel and Harvey won both the A and B races in the 300m.

In the 800m, Harry Griffiths, who has been there for every match this year, got the points in the A race. Whilst Kian Murphy had a fantastic PB in the B race. In the 80m Hurdles, Matthew Register and Ben Hillman took more than half a second off their PBs.

The 1500m was very special - Ben Reynolds was back to his best, the serious injury now a distant memory. And Louis Spencer made a five second PB look like a stroll in the park, the boys winning the A and B races.

In the field events (without any bias), the High Jumpers stole the show, taking maximum points. Jonathan Gibson finally got the 1.60m that he's been chasing all year and Adam Mohsin, the forgotten man of the under 15 boys’ team, reminded himself how much he enjoys High Jump. A 1.60m PB was 20cm more than his season's best. In HJ, that's a lot!

The Long Jumpers were not to be outdone. Here too were maximum points with the latest member of the five metre club, Ben Hillman, winning the competition. The talented year eight has another year to build on his 5.09m PB. The Welsh LJ Champion, Jonathan Gibson, took the B points. In Pole Vault, Iestyn Edwards was the new name in the team, with a very good YDL debut of 2.00m. Adam too, achieved a PB of 2.00m.

There were mixed fortunes in the throws. Tyler Santos, as in every match this season, wore the Cardiff vest with pride with another solid throw in the Javelin and Louis Thorne stepped in to get the B points. With Luca absent, it was Ben Hillman and Louis Thorne (again!) filling in in the Shot to get valuable team points.

Evan Morgan had a Hammer competition to forget, but, a brilliant 25+ metres won the Discus A competition. Caerwyn Phillips got a late call to come into the team and picked up the points in the B event.

As for the Relays, we know what the 4x300m boys did. A new quartet also won the U15 4x100m, to make it eight wins out of eight in the YDL and WJL this year. The 4x300m team was unbeaten this year too.

And now, it's all over except for the paper playoffs! We will now be compared to the other runners-up in the YDL Premier Leagues. If we win the playoff, we will be in the YDL National Final for the second consecutive year. And that is exactly what this amazing class of 2016 deserves.  Fingers crossed; there may be one more YDL match to come this year!!

Congratulations to everyone but especially to team managers Jen and Annie, who did a great job, as well as the club's officials who ensured that we filled our quota and made the day a success.