Irish Schools Track & Field Championships

30th May 2009
On a glorious day in Tullamore six competitors representing Bangor Grammar School set about the task of being the best in their event in Ireland. At each level these pupils have had to raise their performances and this day would be no different.

Nico Espana was our first competitor in action in the Junior Boy’s High Jump. In the previous week Nico had comfortably won his event against Year 10 and 11 pupils from Campbell College and Coleraine Academical Institution. But this was a much sterner test of his mettle. The opening jumps proved the competition was strong. With only one athlete failing the first three heights the ‘bar’ was literally being raised high. By the height of 1.50m Nico was struggling and unfortunately he failed his three attempts at this height and was ranked 8th. Not bad however for a high jumping novice.

The next BGS athlete was Matthew Stockton in the same age group, throwing the Javelin. Matthew qualified second from the Ulster competition and has vastly improved his technique this season increasing his PB by no less than 9m. With his parents and sister rooting him on (as well as the rest of our party) Matthew threw consistently around 35m to rank top 6 after 3 throws. With two more throws to follow we all felt he was in with a shout for a medal. Matthew finished a commendable fourth position and should strive to continue his development in this event.

Another thrower in the form of Gareth Irvine followed in the intermediate discus event. Gareth was looking to improve on his previous year’s fourth position in the same event. Having been in reasonable form coming into the event it was felt this could be the platform for Gareth to demonstrate his calibre. Opening exchanges had Gareth placed second against a formidable thrower from down south. On his last throw he went for it and nailed it with the furthest throw of the day. But for a foot foul for touching the rim of the throwing circle the gold would have been his. Still silver was a great achievement on the day.

Spirits in the team were raised by Gareth’s accomplishment and another medal would surely follow in the much anticipated senior boy’s 800m final. Mark Patterson showed a gutsy display at the Ulster’s and showed his ability to run a strong tactical race. It was expected the race would set off at a blistering pace and sure enough this was the case. Mark dug in and kept with the chasing pack looking to claw back a single runner ahead of the racers. After the first 400m the chasers began to make ground and it was from the penultimate bend the race exploded with Mark pushing hard to make the front. It finished with Mark taking gold in another gutsy performance. We wish Mark well in his international outings over the rest of the season.

Matthew Hamilton limbered up for his 100m final hoping to reach similar heights as had just occurred before his race. He did not disappoint and in a strong final Matthew finished fourth just missing out on his personal best. Matthew has certainly shown he is a strong finisher this season and with further practice over the first 20m he will be a force to be reckoned with.

Our final competitor was Lewis Atkinson who arrived at this competition having won his discus event at the Ulster finals. Having had to wait around all day for his event was bound to take some sting out of his performance and in a frustrating event he was unable to capture previous form and he missed the cut for sixth position.

Congratulations to all athletes from Bangor Grammar School who should feel proud to be ranked among the top in Ireland. Your school is proud of your achievements.

S.H.