BASINGSTOKE and Mid Hants' men’s team manager Ian Byett is hoping to be able to field teenage star Owen Richardson in Saturday’s British Athletics League National Division Two match at Southampton.
The 15-year-old has been in excellent form so far this season, showing real promise in his first season competing at 400m.
He is top of the national under-17 rankings after clocking 48.57sec last month, a performance that would have placed him second at the last BAL meeting.
Byett is keen to pick the young star but says he will leave the decision to John Davis, Richardson’s coach.
“Owen is a real prospect and I would love to select him, but we need to treat him with kid gloves and I will go with what his coach says,” the team manager said. “He has a good chance of winning national titles later in the year and we have to put him before the team.”
Whether or not Richardson does compete, Byett will take a strong team down the M3. Multi-eventers Ben Hazell and Sam Sleap will both make the trip, as will hurdler Andy Blow and sprinting brothers Kieran and Dean Showler-Davis.
Basingstoke won the opening match of the season on their home track last month, edging out Southampton by 13 points, and Byett expects another tight match.
“Southampton are probably favourites on their home track but we are just as strong as we were for the last meeting,” he said. “It should be an exciting and tight match.
“There was a bit of a gap between second and third, so I think that Southampton will be our main rivals throughout the season. The first match often establishes a pattern and it is up to me to make sure that I pick the strongest team possible for the remaining fixtures.”
Decathlete Hazell goes into Saturday’s match in good spirits, having won the Flanders Cup, in Belgium, last week.
The 29-year-old amassed 7,444 points to claim first place, with club-mate Sleap achieving a personal best of 6,990pts to finish fourth. Robert Kite scored 6,539pts to come sixth, with Dan Spencer amassing 2,627pts to finish 17th.