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All Ireland Gold for Junior Relay team

The Junior Boys 4x100m relay team have completed a successful season on the track by winning gold in the All Ireland Championships.

The four boys, Caelan Campbell, Mark Johnston, Owen Johnston and Matthew Hill cruised home to victory in 46.42 seconds; just two tenths of a second ahead of local rivals, Ballymena Academy.

The road to All Ireland Gold started in March when the boys romped home to victory in the NEBSSA qualifiers. This gained them entry into the NEBBSA finals where they were to come up against Ballymena Academy for the first time. On this occasion it was the Ballymena school who came out on top.

Disappointment from not winning the NEBSSA finals ensured preparations for the District Championships, where they were to come head to head with Ballymena Academy again, were of a high standard. Spurred on by their last meeting the boys ran a new school record time and clinched the District title.

The feat was repeated again at provincial level when the boys again ran another school record time and claimed gold ahead of Ballymena Academy in the Ulster Championships.

There was to be one more meeting between the schools as the All Ireland Championship brought together the top two schools from each province for one final race to determine the best team in Ireland.

A long trip to Tullamore in County Offaly, followed by a long wait for the afternoon race time meant that nerves where high as the boys took to the track. After a short delay they finally were under the starter’s orders. The bang of the starter’s gun was shortly followed by another due to a false start. This second gun, however, wasn’t heard by one team whose first leg runner went on to run almost ninety metres of the first leg.

The false start, as well as the recovery time allowed for the runner who hadn’t heard the second gun, meant that there was a five minute delay until the next attempted start. During this time the boys had to remain in their track positions meaning that they had a long five minutes to contemplate what lay ahead.

When the second start came around the boys took up their positions with their hearts pounding in their chests and adrenaline coursing through their veins. This time the start  was a clean one. Caelan Campbell ran a strong first leg and handed over to Owen Johnston who continued to build upon Caelan’s earlier work.

It was during the third leg, however, that Larne Grammar School began to press home their advantage. Owen passed the baton on to his brother Mark who ran the best leg of his life to ensure that Matthew Hill held a two metre advantage going into the final leg.

The race was far from over with rivals Ballymena Academy straining to gain revenge for the Ulster championships and the much hailed All Ireland 100m Champion running the final leg for Mount Merrion. Matthew, however, was coolness personified as he maintained the gap and crossed the line ahead of Ballymena Academy.

As he ran into the arms of Caelan Campbell who was cheering him on from the finish line the realisation dawned that the boys were the new All Ireland Champions, the first time the school has won this particular event, and had once again broken the school’s 4x100m record.

Mr Lowe, Head of Physical Education, said: “This is a fantastic result from a dedicated bunch of boys. They have worked incredibly hard this season and fully deserve this incredible achievement.

The school would like to congratulate the boys and their coaches, Mr Lowe and Mr Christie.

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The victorious team of Owen Johnston, Caelan Campbell, Matthew Hill and Mark Johnston

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