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Matthew Burns

Season of success for Sedbergh Athletics

It has been quite the year for the athletes at Sedbergh School. An unprecedented year of success with multiple records broken, competitions won and a record number of national finalists.

In typical fashion, the athletics season kicked off at the end of April as a full squad of 49 athletes travelled up to Gateshead, looking to repeat last year’s win in the biggest team fixture of the year against the HMC Schools of the North. As season openers go, this couldn’t have gone much better. Finishing first across 4 of the 6 age groups saw Sedbergh win the event overall and, in doing so, recorded their highest ever points tally. Amongst the many individual highlights from across the day, the standout moment came in the final event, the 4x400m relay. In an event that does not contribute to the scoring totals, Sedbergh fielded 44 runners in making up 11 of the 12 teams on the start line. Not only did it showcase the team unity and competitiveness of the athletes, but it highlighted the resilience and desire to compete.

As the season developed and the competitions came thick and fast, the athletes stepped up and continue to deliver. Fresh off the back of them both receiving their athletics colours, club captains, Ben Burridge and Elle Heathcote continued their fine form with season’s bests in the long jump and 200m respectively. Following his Junior Boys’ 300m school record, Max Armitage set the record for the Junior Boys’ 200m. Ella Turner added an enormous 15cm to her high jump personal best; equalling the school record in the process. Fraser Sproul took his successful cross-country season onto the track, winning the 3000m at District Championships.

Following a impressive outing to the County Track & Field Championships in Whitehaven, which saw the team return with 20 County champions and a further 24 podium finishes, Wilson Run 2019 winner, Alex Duckitt was awarded her athletics colours – on account of the commitment and dedication shown over a number of years and the level of support she offers to all levels of the club. Another athlete to have received his athletics colours earlier in the season was Henry Ackroyd. Henry continued to chip away and recorded personal bests in the 100m, 200m and 400m this season – all of which he achieved at the same competition! Henry continues to strive on the Paralympic Pathway programme, targeting Paris 2024 Paralympics, and is ranked in the top 10 in the Country in all 3 track events.

The season reached its climax as we finished another fantastic school year. The Under-16 girls had overcome two earlier rounds, winning the North-West final in a record points tally, to see them head to Chelmsford in the ESAA Track and Field Cup Final, competing as one of the top 12 schools in the Country. In a competition where Sedbergh were the smallest school by a significant margin, the girls produced Sedbergh’s highest ever finish in the National finals with 9th place. A wonderful effort by all 13 members of the team.
The following week, four athletes travelled to Alexander Stadium in Birmingham to compete in the pinnacle of schools’ athletics – ESAA Championships. Alex Duckitt, Oskar Tye, Ben Burridge and Fraser Sproul represented the largest number of athletes Sedbergh has ever contributed to the Championships and in doing so, brought the total number of pupils to represent the County this season to 30, another record total. All athletes performed admirably and finished in the top 20 of their events, which shows great signs for next year as all athletes will remain in the same age group.

Following their record-breaking year, Head of Athletics, Mr Chris Wakeford paid special tribute to the staff and pupils saying; “A significant thank you goes to all athletes and coaches who have collectively contributed to the success of the athletics team this year.”

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