Southend AC had a sensational result at Derby in the penultimate round of the men’s British League National Two division and go into the final fixture with a real chance of promotion.
They now lie one point off the elusive second promotion place, behind Basingstoke.
Having been without their sprint section for the first two matches due to holidays and injuries, the team were still lying in third place going into this match.
This time, however, the sprinters were back and the team flexed their muscles to register a fabulous win.
Team manager Keith Palmer said: “This is truly a great team, full of top county athletes all in peak form and wanting to do well for each other.
“It has given us the belief we really can do this, and we are all looking forward to the last match.”
Sprinter Harry McQueen made his Southend debut in the A-string 100m (fourth 11.19) and 200m (third 22.10), with Jake King (100mB, fourth, 11.40s/400B second 49.02s) and Markus Hunt (200mB second 22.50s/400mA third 48.40s) making up an impressive flat sprinting team.
In the hurdles, team captain Greg Goodrem ran his fastest time for two years in the 400mh (56.85s) to finish third in the B string, with James McLean sixth in the A-string (59.67s). In the 110m hurdles the pair were once again in commanding form with McLean third in the A-string (15.99s) and Goodrem fourth in the B-string (16.39s).
The 800m saw Dave Smale break his own club record, lowering it this time to 1m 52.86s – a performance which earned him the athlete of the match award.
James Tydeman was second in the B-race (1m 55.46s). The 1,500m saw Adam Hickey finish second in 3m 53.01s in the A-string, with Tom Frith third in the B (4m 05.65s). Hickey was also second in the A-string 3,000m (8m 36.60s) with David Gibbon a strong third in the B-string (8m 44.97s). The 3,000m steeplechase saw Roy Scott run (10m 14.82s) for fifth in the A-string with under-17 Tom Metcalf seventh in the B-string (11m 59.69s).
The two relay teams were in superb form. The 4x100m of James McLean, Markus Hunt, Jake King and Harry McQueen, and the 4x400m team of Harry McQueen (51.2s) Dave Smale (59.3s) Jake King (50.3s) and Markus Hunt (47.6s) both ran the club’s fastest time for more than two decades in 43.00s (third) and 3m 19.37s (second) respectively.
On the field, Southend were equally as dominating.
In the throws, Rob Earle was in his usual fine form with second in the A-string hammer (54.07m), first in the B-string discus (40.05m), and first in the B-string shot-putt (12.40m). Tariq Martin showed his class in winning the A-String discus (45.71m). Under-17 Sam Grant made his debut with 37.15m for sixth place in the B-hammer which was a club record for a 16-year-old. Tom Metcalf was seventh in the A-string Javelin (39.03m). The biggest lift of the day to team morale was the return of top thrower Dave Condon after a three-year absence.
Condon threw 12.82m for fourth in the A-string shot and 37.81m in the B-string javelin. The jumps saw Kevin Brown finish fourth in the A-string triple jump with 13.82m while in the B-string, Emmanuel Gbegli made an excellent debut finishing second with 13.40m. King also managed a PB in the long jump with 6.23m.
In the high jump, Goodrem was sixth in the A-string (1.90m SB, sixth), while Simon Hemmings, nursing a couple of serious injuries, still managed 1.75m for third place in the B-string. Jason Fry maintained his very good form with 4.40m and second place in the A-string pole vault, just missing a PB of 4.60m, and Tom Metcalf was fifth (3.00m) in the B-string. The final ‘promotion’ match is at Bromley on August 18.
Match result: 1st Southend 333, 2nd Glasgow 308, 3rd Notts 306, 4th Basingstoke 280.5, 5th Blackheath 261, 6th Crawley 254, 7th Kingston 248 and 8th Exeter 198.5.
League standings: 1st Glasgow 22 (913), 2nd Basingstoke 20 (886.5), 3rd Southend 19 (902.5) 4th Notts 14 (863), 5th Crawley 12 (821.5), 6th Blackheath 12 (818.5) 7th Kingston 6 (754) 8th Exeter 3 (607).