ATHLETICS: Club hosting county championships on Saturday

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Rugby & Northampton AC

Rugby & Northampton Athletics Club will host the Northamptonshire County Cross Country Championships at Abington Park on Saturday (January 7).

For anyone who would like to go along and support the runners in Northampton, the first race begins at 12noon and finishes with the joint Senior Men’s and Women’s race starting at 1.45pm.

The Senior Men’s event will be taking place for the 78th time and reigning champion Jonathan Goringe of Kettering Town Harriers is returning to defend his title.

He will be up against former winner Rory Grant of Birchfield Harriers who, when winning the Junior title five years ago, defeated the whole of the Senior Men’s field.

Last year’s runner-up, David Green of Northampton Road Runners, is also in the field along with the strong pairing of Rugby & Northampton’s Dominic Jones and William Gardner.

With six to score in the team, the host club will be challenging for their 20th title as either Phoenix/R&N, but will have to hold off defending champions Corby AC, along with four other clubs.

The three medalists from the U20 Men’s race 12 months ago will do battle again with Kettering’s Jack Hope defending the crown against his club-mate Josh Cara, and R&N’s Ben Musgrove.

The Senior Ladies will for the first time compete jointly with the men over 10,000m, and Hayley Munn of Northampton Road Runners will be defending the title she won so emphatically last year.

Her main challenge is likely to come from Birchfield’s Nicole Roberts, but also battling for a podium place will be last year’s silver medal winner Kelly Barnett of Wellingborough, and Corby’s Rebecca Hall.

The team competition will be contested by Kettering, Corby, Silson & Wootton Road Runners.

Rugby & Northampton’s Emma Bond will defend her U20 title against Claudia Nevett of Kettering.

The U17 Men’s race could see a battle between the R&N pairing of Adam Searle and James Wizard. Searle is the current U15 Champion, but Wizard will be hoping to go one place better than his U17 silver medal from last year. Fynn Batkin of KTH could also challenge for honours.

In the absence of title holder Tabatha Walford through injury, the U17 Women’s event is looking wide open.

Sophie Moss of KTH is a strong bet but, with the pairing of Amy Walker (R&N) and Poppy Carmichael (KTH) moving up from U15 level, a good race is in prospect.

There will be two clear favourites in both the U15 events, with Adam Caulfield of R&N in the boys and KTH’s Emily Williams in the girls.

Also challenging for medals in the boys section will be the top two from last year’s U13 race – Dylan Bowley (KTH) and Archie Parkinson (Corby) – while the current U13 Girls champion Molly Williams could be challenging her R&N team-mate Lucy Stevens.

The biggest field from the young athletes is in the U13 race, with 37 entrants for the boys and 30 for the girls. Louis Buttrick will be hoping to medal this time and could challenge for top honours with his R&N team-mate Finlay Heard, who is the reigning U11 champion. Harvey Wilmott (Wellingborough) and Noah Bennett (R&N) could also be in the mix for a medal.

The reigning U11 Girls champion, Emily Hinton of Silson AC, moves up to the U13 age group and her main challenger for the title could be last years U13 runner-up, Freya Batkin of KTH.

Olivia Williams (R&N) also moves up and is a medal prospect, along with Wellingborough’s Lucy Watts.

Rugby & Northampton’s Arthur Tilt and Alice Bennett will start as favourites in the U11 Boys and Girls races respectively.