Ladies promoted as champions
The Rugby & Northampton Ladies Cross Country team sealed the Midland Women’s League Division Two title at the weekend, and in doing so confirmed their promotion to Division One.
Victory at Wolverhampton in the final race of the season made it three in a row and their efforts would have seen them finish seventh in Division One, proving that the team are more than capable of competing with the best that the Midlands has to offer.
The star performer of the day was Gabriella Moriarty, who became the only athlete from the club to make the top 20 all season in the combined Division 1 and 2 race. Moriarty completed the 6k course at Aldersley Leisure Village in 17th place with a time of 24 minutes and 33 seconds.
Rebecca Leadbeater’s 24th position in 25:11 ensured third spot overall in the Junior competition, based on the best three scores from the four races. Tamara Hardman achieved her highest-ever placing (39th - 25:56) to lead the Veteran team to fifth on the day and 12th overall, and closing out for the victorious Senior team was Leisha Mulvey - the U20 athlete recorded 28:02 for 83rd.
Angela Copson was the second veteran home for R&N with a season-best 94th position in 28:33 and Tilly Lea, in her last league race as a Junior, was timed at 29:52 to place127th. Completing the veteran squad was Zoe Shepherd in a best ever 131st spot in exactly 30 minutes, and Helen Jones crossed the line in 31:05 to finish 159th.
At the same venue, the Men’s Cross Country team maintained their Division One status in the fourth and final race of the Men’s Birmingham League.
Leading them home in the six-mile course, which consisted of three laps, was International athlete Jacob Allen who finished third in 30 minutes and nine seconds. Allen, 21, who recently represented Great Britain in the European U23 Cross Country Championships, placed behind fellow International Graham Rush of Cheltenham (29:31) and Toby Spencer of Coventry Godiva (29:35).
Backing up Allen were two athletes achieving personal-best places - Robert Male recording 33:07 for 54th position and Alistair McDonnell finished 82nd in 34:02.
Paul Birch, returning from injury, was the first veteran home for R&N (113th - 35:14) and Junior Tom Charteress clinched a best ever 117th place, crossing the line in 35:29. It proved to be lucky 13 for Nigel Roberts who, after 12 league races without making the scoring six, clinched that final spot with a 132nd-placed time of 35:58.
The ‘A’ string finished 11th on the day, dropping to 13th overall from the 16 teams, but avoided the bottom three by virtue of defeating Warwick University, who slipped from 10th to 14th.
In the ‘B’ race, the team also placed 11th, but claimed sixth spot overall. Daniel Williams crossed in 36:25 for a highest-ever placing of 146th, and behind him came four veterans - Vince Carroll (163rd - 37:02), Pete Thomas (172nd - 37:42), Terry Egan (178th - 38:00) and Max Chippington (181st - 38:03). Junior Oliver Harvey closed out the team with a best ever 195th in 39:17.
Also finishing in the 15-man squad were Adrian White (202nd - 39:54), Adrian Reast (221st - 43:18) and John Saw (236th - 48:09).
Elsewhere at the weekend, a small number of R&N representatives competed in the England Athletics Indoor Championship for U20, U17 and U15 athletes. The event took place at the English Institute of Sport facility in Sheffield.
There was a massive result for Eleanor Broome in the U20W Long Jump, as she secured a superb silver medal in her first year in the age category. More significant was that her best jump of 6.07 metres surpassed the qualifying standard to be considered for GB selection at the European Youth Championships later in the season.
There was also further improvement for U20M Rico Ewer, competing in a highly competitive 60m event. Ewer stormed to victory in his first round, clocking 6.97 seconds, and then bettered that time in the semi-final by crossing the line first with a PB of 6.90. In the Final, Ewer just missed out on the medals, finishing fourth with another excellent time of 6.91.
There were also semi-final appearances for Franklin Fenning in U17M 60m (7.37 and 7.39) and Milan Clues in the U17W 60m hurdles, with the latter clocking a PB of 9.48 in her heat followed by 9.51 in the semi-final.
Also competing and gaining valuable championship experience were Bradley Whitehead (U15B 60m - 8.14 PB), Theo Walkley-Bartlett (U20M 60m hurdles - 8.79 PB) and Sam Owusu (U17M Long Jump - 5.93).