Gerry North hailed the team spirit that ensured his City of Portsmouth troops staved off UK Women’s League relegation.
City went into their final division two match of the season at Derby on Sunday nervously looking over their shoulder at the teams below them in the league table.
Their cause wasn’t helped by unavailability and injury – something that has hampered the team’s progress all season.
But with a dedicated core group of athletes, City rose to the challenge to finish fifth on the day and ensure their third-level status for another year.
‘I’m really proud of the team,’ said coach North.
‘We only had 12 girls there and about five or six gaps in the events but they all rallied round and filled most things.
‘I’m over the moon with their attitude and efforts – and they all did much better than I expected.
‘I was getting a bit down about it all before Sunday but that soon changed after what I saw.
‘I ended up really enjoying the day and the long journey down the road was a lot more enjoyable knowing we managed to avoid relegation.’
With the team helping out wherever they could, there were some top performances recorded in Derby.
Emma Montiel, City’s only recognised distance runner, won the 3,000m A-string race in 10min 36.2sec after showing a tremendous burst of speed over the last 250m.
She also recorded a new personal best in the 800m (2.33.57) when finishing a respectable seventh.
And put in a shift to finish fifth in the 1,500m with a time of 5.05.28.
Joing Montiel in the winners’ circle was Mandy Gault, who took a rest from her 400m hurdles exertions.
She opted to run the 400m and 200m – and the decision paid off with a first and second place recorded.
Victory was secured in the 400m in a time of 55.43, while Gault finished second to Laura Turner in the 200m in a new PB time of 24.64.
Claire Netley continued to impress in the 400m hurdles where she finished third in 67.02.
Meanwhile, Taylor Langford-Smith (triple jump, 9.72m), Irish Sirmons (discus, 29.39) and Ros Stansbury (shot putt, 9.54) also recorded top-three placings.