HYNDBURN AC president Norman Mitchell has hailed his club’s female athletes as they defended their Mid Lancs Track and Field League title in fine style – while their men were pipped at the post as they attempted to make it a double victory.

The Wilson Playing Fields club were the big winners as the Mid Lancs regular season came to a close in the fifth and final meeting at Preston Sports Arena on Saturday.

With the best four scores from five matches going towards the final scores, Hyndburn’s females practically had the 2012 title in the bag prior to their trip along the M65, given their domination in the series.

A superb second-placed finish in Preston, however, confirmed their status at the top of the seven-team Division One table.

Although the final points table has yet to be officially declared, the females have chalked up a mammoth 731.5 points, just 13.5 shy of last year’s total.

They were a huge 186.5 points clear of their nearest challengers Horwich RMI (547), while Preston Harriers (525.5) took third spot.

Senior shot putter Eve Parkin-son, U17 long jumper Ellen Sagar-Hesketh and U17 shot and javelin thrower Marnie Shirtcliffe were among the individual winners for Hyndburn as they clinched their title.

Led by team managers Stephen Sumner and Sarah Cowgill, there was almost double celebration for Hyndburn as their male team also challenge for the champion-ship on the final day.

However, provisional results indicate that they have just fallen short, their season’s haul of 701 points just six behind Blackpool Wyre & Fylde (707), with Pendle AC (654.5) taking third and Black-burn Harriers (459.5) fourth. “It’s a big improvement in the male section for us,” said Mitchell. “We’ve got a good team together and, maybe next year, they will go one place higher.

On the female team, Mitchell added: “We won it last year. But I said to the girls, it’s fine winning it once, the hardest thing is then retaining the title.

“They had to show the necessary dedication and determination to go out there and win it again, and they’ve done that. It’s fantastic.

“I would like to say a huge thank you to team managers Stephen and Sarah for their hard work throughout the year.”

Rossendale Harriers’ women made it a successful year for East Lancashire by winning the Division Two championship and earning promotion to the top division in the process, along with Barrow & Furness. Burnley’s women just missed out in third place, but their men’s team are celebrating promotion after coming second behind Southport in Division Two.

Mitchell said: “It’s great for the local area that we’ve got Burnley men coming into Division One.”