With its big prize money, excellent setting, carnival atmosphere and historical past, Jedburgh Games is the jewel in the crown of the open athletics season.
At the Riverside Park track meeting on Saturday, however, Hawick produced its own gems with three Teri runners landing a top-notch treble.
Nineteen-year-old Dylan Ali gained the honours in the 400m handicap through a real powerhouse show.
From the David Rae/Che Campbell school, Ali hit full throttle from the gun and motored his way through the field from his back mark spot (5m).
Halfway down the home straight the Hawick teenager took the lead and from here on Ali soared to a convincing win in a very fast time of 49.84 seconds.
Euan Pettigrew of Kelso (15m) gained second place, with Hawick’s Kyle Potts (32.5m) emerging third.
Talking of his triumph, Ali, the winner of the New Year sprint at Musselburgh in January and the current British 90 metres champion as well as the Scottish 200 metres champion, told the Hawick News: “As I was running from the back I had to go flat out from the start as I had a lot to do to catch the runners in front of me.
“I felt good, though, and managed to do the job I set out to do but it was tough going. However, I had a lucky charm to help me. My five-year-old nephew Charlie Playford made me a loom band for luck, which I had round my wrist and this worked for me as I not only won but recorded my fastest ever time for a 400 metres on grass.”
The Rae/Campbell stable also produced the victor of the youths’ 90m front markers’ handicap.
Stirches school youngster Charlie Rae taking pride of place in this one with a spot-on show. Fresh from his win in the City of Edinburgh Running Festival youths’ 200m handicap six days previous, nine-year-old Rae (24m) firstly buzzed to a heat triumph in 10.46 seconds.
This win earning a final place along with Keeley Womack (19m) from the Billy Edgar camp, who had also won her heat. In the last showdown, Rae excelled again when clocking up a winning time of 10.20 seconds.
Commenting on matters, Rae’s coach and father David Rae said: “Charlie’s win at Meggetland last week has given him confidence and he is now beginning to believe he can win a bit. I was very pleased with the way he won his heat and in the final he ran even better. I won the youths’ 90m at Jed 26 years ago when I was 14, so it has been really nice to see him following in my footsteps.”
Running under the banner of the TLJT club, 18-year-old Kyle Potts (21m) put victory Hawick’s way in the 200m handicap, following a heat win in 22.42 seconds.
In an exciting final, Potts held off a strong challenge from fellow Hawick runner Leon Ali (16m) in the latter stages of the race to gain victory in 22.21 seconds. Ali was placed second. A well-pleased Potts said of his winning show: “I’ve been training hard and was hoping to do well and after I had won my heat I thought I might have a chance in the final.
“Last year, I won the 400mhandicap at the Jedburgh Games and it’s brilliant to have won again on the same track.”
Hawick sprinters featured highly in the main event on the Jedburgh card, the 110m handicap, which had a magnificent first prize of £3,000.
Leigh Marshall (5m), Jack Wilson (12m) and John Paxton (16m) all impressed in winning their heats.
Marshall and Wilson then hit the high spots again in qualifying for the final by coming out on top in their cross-tie outings in fine style. Everything pointed to the final being a real cracker and a real cracker it sure was.
In what was a real ding-dong ending, victory was either going the way of Marshall or Jedburgh’s Craig Gillan (7m) as there was nothing between the pair.
After consulting the photo-finish and following a long delay, the judges decision was cast the way of Gillan, with Marshall given second place. The winning time of 11.43 seconds was the quickest of the day by far.
Although not getting into the winning frame in the veterans’ 90m handicap, Drew Bryson (11.5m) gave a good account of himself when coming in third.