Jesmond Joggers eye spot in the top league

Coach Scott Armstrong

Jesmond Joggers head coach Scott Armstrong believes that his senior and women’s vet teams have what it takes to win promotion to the North East Harrier League’s first division next season following their best race performance in five years.

Following their impressive display at the season’s first fixture at Blaydon on October 26th, where the team competed in the five mile-long race, the coach said that he is confident that his charges can force their way up to the region’s biggest league.

“We have set ourselves the goal of finishing first, and we believe we have the strongest squad that can take the team up there,” Armstrong said. “We have students who are keen runners and they have never disappointed.”

The ladies’ team managed to accumulate 55 points and currently occupy sixth spot in the league, 20 points behind leaders Wallsend Harriers.

Jenny Hitchcott, who has boosted the team’s performance, finished in a remarkable third position on the day. She was followed by Amanda Ray and Melissa McPherson, who managed to make it to the top 100, obtaining 48th and 67th positions respectively.

Armstrong said that although his team does not have “sufficient resources” and the depth of talent compared to others in the league, they are determined to challenge for the league’s top honours. “We need to assemble the strongest possible team every race to achieve our ambition, but this is not always possible because our many of our regular runners have family and work commitments. If these runners can turn up for our fixtures, they can increase the team’s chances of doing well.”

He added that the ladies have so far proved their class and hope that the senior and vet men’s team, who compete in Division 2, can replicate their performance. “We have managed to do well in the weekend’s record breaking race which attracted over 350 runners,” he said. “This was our best performance in the last five years. ”

The men currently lie in eighth spot in their division after a lacklustre start at Blaydon saw their runner Matthew Nicholson become the only one to grab a spot in the top 100. Nicholson finished 93rd as the team struggled in the five mile race.

They have to prove their promotion credentials by avoiding relegation this season. “We’re obviously aiming higher, but if we finish eighth, it’ll still be fine,” Armstrong said. “The important thing for us is to consolidate our stay in the division.”

Although this position put them 148 points above the relegation zone ahead of Alnwick Harriers, Saltwell Harriers and Houghton AC, any further poor results could leave them in a relegation quagmire. Both the men’s and women’s teams will be back in competition at the next fixture held at Jarrow (Bedewell Park) on November 24th.

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