New Balance English Schools' AA Cross Country Championships
There was a tremendous afternoon of races at the Norfolk Showground when the national schools’ cross country titles were decided.
The races saw a mix of front running, sprint finishes and late changes to medal positions as the county schools teams contested the six championship races.
Reports on the day's races as well as links to the results are available below.
The signs were ominous in the Senior Boys' race when Ben Dijkstra (Leics, Leicester / Beacon Hill) was showing at the front just behind Tom Mortimer (Glocs, Stroud, Chris Brown) in the very early stages. With Ben usually moving through as the race goes on he was already prominent in a front end that included Alasdair Kinloch (Kent, Tonbridge, Mark Hookway) and Conor Smith (Here & Worcs, Bromsgrove & Redditch, Vince Rollason).
Heading out on to the first of the two big laps Ben was already piling on the pace with Tom in closest contention and Matt Willis (Cheshire, Wrexham / Cheshire Schools) moving through as the field broke up. With Matt catching Tom and the two locked together as Ben pulled clear at the front, it was clear where the three medals would go but not how silver and bronze would be heading. As it was, the Stroud athlete moved away again for second place. Will Crudgington (Avon, Team Bath) was up into fourth by the finish. Also constantly moving through the field was 800m specialist George Mills (N Yorks, Harrogate, Joanne Day) who crossed the line fifth to lead his county to the team title with 208 points ahead of Hamps & Vectis (247) who edged out Kent (253).
This age group tackling a shorter distance to that many of the athletes would be used to but that did not mean there was any shortage of changes in the lead.
An early pack included Bella Williams (Lincs, Lincoln Wellington, Rob Lewis), Niamh Brown (Surrey, Aldershot, Farnham & District, Mick Woods), Holly Page (Kent, Dartford, Jason Marchant), Jodie Judd (Essex, Chelmsford, Mick Judd) and Scarlett Dale (Cumbria, Lancaster & Morecambe, Colin Gemson). And as the race progressed it was Jodie who was forcing the pace. But changes were on the way as Khahisa Mhlanga (also Essex, Chelmsford, Mick Judd) emerged from the field to catch and pass her training partner to go on to take the victory. Julia Tomczak (London, South London Harriers) was another to time her run from further back well and she came through into the bronze medal position.
While Essex took the one-two in the team race it was Kent who won the team title with 215 points ahead of Surrey’s 229 and Greater Manchester’s 275.
The early running in this race saw the likes of Alex Ediker (Derbys, Chesterfield), Jack Meijer (Bucks, Marshall Milton Keynes, Jim Bennett), James Young (Middlesex, Enfield & Haringey, Janice Bowman) and Josh Dickinson (S Yorks, City of York, Ian Wilcock) all at the front.
But as the race progressed Hampshire & Vectis duo Lachlan Wellington (City of Portsmouth, Vince Stamp) and Zak Mahamed (Southampton, Peter Haynes) and Thomas Keen (Cambs, Cambridge & Coleridge, Mark Vile) moved to the fore along with Middlesex’s Joseph Owen (Orion, Iain Wilson). In the late stages of the home straight Zak was looking in control with his Hampshire team mate second and Joseph third. But in the very final drive for the line Joseph overhauled Lachlan for silver, as Thomas took fourth.
The Hampshire & Vectis team took gold with 197 as Essex came second with 275 and Sussex third with 350.
It was Olivia Mason (Club: Border, Coach: Graeme Mason, School County: Cumbria) who struck gold in the first race of the day as she took the lead early on and held off the Surrey duo of Claudia Lance Jones (Guildford & Godalming, Sue Goode) and Charlotte Alexander (Club: Herne Hill, Coach: Wayne Vinton) in a race where the medals were still up for grabs in the home straight. Charlotte had overtaken Ella McNiven (Club: Liverpool Harriers, Coach: Lynn Webb, School County: Merseyside) to move third earlier in the race and it was Nottinghamshire’s Anna Smith (Formula One Circuit Crew) who was fourth by the finish.
With two in the first three it was no great surprise to see Surrey come out on top in the team competition with an impressive 133 points seeing them clear of the challenge of London (242) and Essex (286).
West Yorkshires’ Tommy Dawson (Leeds City) was always close to the front in the Junior Boys' race with the likes of Liam Rawlings (Shropshire, Oswestery, Colin Lancaster), Oliver Bright (London, Kent AC) and Angus Williams (Bucks, Chiltern / Hillingdon, Steve Perkin) also to the fore. But as the race went on it was the Middlesex vest of Mohammed Ali (Hillingdon, Idris Hamud) that came alongside and also took time on the front of the race with Ethan Hussey (N Yorks, Leeds City) also at the business end of things. But in the home straight it was Tommy who prevailed from Mohammad as his Leeds clubmate took third in the charge for the line.
Surrey closed in their scorers in with a 137 points score led home by Harley Norman (Epsom & Ewell) in fourth place. North Yorkshire took team silver with 172 and Kent the bronze with 353.
Cheshire’s Sian Heslop (Macclesfield, Pauline Lynch) ran away from the field to take the Junior Girls' title race with Sussex’s Bethany Cook (Bodyworks) second and Alex Scrivener (Glocs, Banbury, Graham Bufton) running a well-timed race to move right through into third place just ahead of Emily Shaw (Dorset, Wimborne).
London came away with the team title led in by sixth placed Ava White (Blackheath & Bromley, Phillip Kissi) as they scored 226 ahead of Sussex’s 355 and Surrey’s 377.
Note that this week's AW, out on Thursday, is an ENGLISH SCHOOLS CHAMPS SPECIAL featuring 10 pages of reports, photos and results!