Erik Escala, Katherine Fowler and Scott Hopper were all on international duty at the Schools Pentathlon International at the Emirates Arena on Saturday. The Central AC trio were representing Scotland as they took on top-class teams of all-round athletes from Ireland, Wales and England.
Erik Escala of Dunblane High School was initially selected as a reserve, but the 17-year-old received a call-up to the Over-16 Boys the day before the event to take his place in the starting line-up. This was Erik’s second international appearance after representing Scotland at the schools’ track and field international in July. He had a storming start in the 60 Metres Hurdles to run a personal best 8.67 seconds, knocking 0.5s off his previous mark, for ninth overall. He followed this with another personal best in his strongest event, the Shot Put, adding a metre to his previous mark with a huge throw of 13.53 metres to land fifth place. He then produced another excellent performance in the 200 Metres, fighting the Welsh athlete all the way to the finish, finishing a narrow second but rewarded with another big personal best 23.33s. This was a dream start for Erik and saw him move into third place overall. In the Long Jump, Erik set another personal best 5.90m, however with several other athletes well over 6 metres he slipped to sixth place. He finally lined up in the last heat of the 800 Metres with the main medal contenders and committed completely in the opening two laps, reaching 400m in 62 seconds, but was unable to keep up the momentum and finished in 2:17.34. This was yet another personal best making a clean sweep of five. He finished with an overall score of 3,327 points, adding over 300 points to his previous best score. His final position was ninth, an excellent result in a quality field of 16 international athletes, particularly given his late call-up. Ireland produced strong performances to win overall and England managed to edge Scotland out for second place, but the Scots were still well ahead of Wales meaning a bronze medal with his Scottish teammates as third placed team. Erik will next target the UK Under-20 Heptathlon championships in Sheffield in January.
Katherine Fowler of McLaren High School was making her international debut in the Under-16 Girls after earning her place by winning bronze in the Scottish Schools Pentathlon in June. The Callander teenager had extra cause to celebrate as the match coincided with her birthday. Katherine started well in the Long Jump, with 4.92m for fourth place. She followed this with a superb run in the 60 Metres Hurdles as she smashed her personal best by over a second with 9.49s which lifted her to a lofty fifth place. She cleared 1.44m at the High Jump and threw 7.79m in the Shot Put, both respectable performances, but in a close competition against top class athletes this saw her slip to 11th place. The medal positions were now out of reach but Katherine still ran her heart out in the final 800 Metres and was rewarded with a personal best 2:31.95 to place second in her heat behind a Scottish teammate. These performances combined to give Katherine ninth place with an excellent personal best score of 2,954 points to finish third of the Scottish team and to beat athletes from each of the other teams. This was a very respectable finish on her international debut and bodes well for the future.
Scott Hopper of McLaren High School was also representing Scotland for the first time ever. After a personal best 9.63s in the 60 Metres Hurdles and a near personal best 5.34m in Long Jump, Scott unfortunately hurt his knee in the 200 Metres forcing him to withdraw. We wish him all the best in his recovery.