Even though they finished seventh out of eight in the last United Kingdom Women’s League match of the season, Birchfield Harriers’ women's team avoided relegation with a decent performance at Copthall Stadium in London.
Going into Saturday’s fixture, Lyn Orbell’s squad needed to come within four places of Woodford Green with Essex Ladies to secure their top-flight status for next season and they managed to do exactly that, thanks to outstanding performances from World Junior 400 metres hurdles bronze medallist Meghan Beesley and national Under 23 shot champion Eden Francis.
While Beesley gained two vital points in the javelin and three in the 200m, she won her own event in a time of 59.05 seconds that meant more to her team than it did to her personal quest of lowering her 57.08secs personal best.
Francis won two events. Her discus throw of 54.32m was six centimetres ahead of Manchester’s Emma Carpenter while her 16.08m effort in the shot was just 4cm outside a lifetime best.
Wins for Amy Woodman in the long jump, Ejiro Okoro - with a personal best, in the 800m and Louise Butterworth in the pole vault kept Birchfield clear of relegation danger.
This means that even though they came second-last - only Rugby and Northampton were behind the Perry Barr outfit - they still came just two places behind Woodford and will stay in Division One for the 2009 campaign.
Birchfield’s men, meanwhile, will be in a similar position when they complete their 2008 British Athletics League campaign at Shaftesbury Barnet in a fortnight’s time.
Dave Lawrence’s Stags came fifth in the weekend’s match and are in the same place in the table after three of the four rounds.
They go to Copthall on Saturday week, however, knowing anything is possible. They could catch third-placed Manchester or be overhauled by Shaftesbury Barnet or Belgrave Harriers to join Windsor Slough, Eton and Hounslow in the relegation zone.
While they struggled in the sprints and could have done without Warren Frey’s registration problems that negated his result in the 800m and 1500m, they did just enough to avoid falling into the bottom two places.
Beijing-bound Tom Parsons still finished sixth in the high jump despite using the event as part of his Olympic Games preparation and only competing off a four-step run-up.
One of the few Birchfield athletes to win was Alex van der Merwe who threw his javelin 62.44m in the B event although the triple jump pairing of Michael McKiernan and Konrad Komenski took 17 points between them.