Young athletes strike gold
Rugby & Northampton celebrated a storming winter as they became West Midlands Young Athletes Cross Country League champions by a massive 3,540 points following the final race of the series at Perry Park, Birmingham.
To add to their overall win, the club took age-group gold in the under 11 girls and boys, under 13 girls and boys and under 17 women, along with silver in under 15 boys and bronze in the under 17 men to make it a cross country season to remember.
The star of the show was Molly Williams in the under 11 girls, as she made it a magnificent five out of five with a win in the final race of the season. Supported by team-mates Alice Jackson (8th, 06.58), Gabriella Pack (13th, 07.02), Claudia Searle (17th, 07.12) and Holly Walker (19th, 07.15), Williams triumphed in a time of 06.25 to help R&N to a narrow three-point team victory on the day.
Chasing individual honours, Mac Ryder (06.18) led home the under 11 boys team to take first place on the day and second in the series. James Barritt (7th, 06.35), Isaac Thorman (9th, 06.37), Scott Kruck (13th, 06.47) and Harry Boynton (16th, 06.55) also scored in the final race.
The internal R&N battle for the under 13 boys series title was finally won by Adam Searle after a fierce tug-of-war with team-mate Joe Musgrove. Both had taken two wins and two runners-up places in the first four races, but Searle (09.21) took the fifth and deciding victory to pip Musgrove (09.27) to the top of the podium.
The pair were ably supported by Rhys James (3rd, 09.34) throughout the campaign, whose four third-place finishes ensured he took overall bronze, with the trio again taking a one-two-three finish on race-day five. Ethan Kent Whittaker (7th, 09.49) and Matthew Rushton (11th, 10.04) also scored for the team.
Fourth place on the day was enough for Poppy Carmichael (10.29) to clinch second overall in the under 13 girls. Amy Walker (6th, 10.42), Georgina Woodward (8th, 10.47), Abigail Pearce (20th, 11.10) and Angharad Wylie (25th, 11.13) all finished inside the top 25.
With two wins, two silvers and a bronze over the quintet of meets in the under 17 women, Kirsty Goddard saw her efforts rewarded with the overall title. Finishing third this time around, Goddard (17.16) was supported by Emma Bond (10th, 18.17) and Charlotte Murphy (14th, 19.10).
Hizam Sheekh (5th, 17.39) was first home for the club in the under 17 men, joined by Ben Musgrove (11th, 17.58) and Harry Hughes (15th, 18.15) as R&N took third on the day.
Ella Rose Bromley (13.04) took second in the under 15 girls final race, ahead of Georgia Willix (25th, 14.43), Rhian Williams (46th, 16.06), Charlotte Valentine (52nd, 16.28) and Niamh Chippington (65th, 17.27) as the team ended fifth in the series.
Joshua Lay (7th, 11.47) was the first R&N member home in the under 15 boys, leading the scoring team of Oskar Potomski (9th, 12.03), Emile De Mallo (37th, 13.10), Joshua Thurman (40th, 13.21) and Cameron Roberts (45th, 13.31).
Elsewhere, R&N scooped their highest overall placing for five years in Division One of the Birmingham & District Invitational Cross Country League.
Led by Jacob Allen’s eighth place at Pittville Park, Cheltenham, the A team finished 11th on the day, 10th in the series. Allen’s time of 33.15 was enough to see him finish as the second junior athlete overall, supported by George Goodwin (18th, 33.41), Seb Palmer (68th, 36.03), Pete Belfield (79th, 36.25), Robert Male (112th, 38.21) and Vince Carroll (118th, 38.39) – Goodwin and Belfield taking their highest placings so far.
Nigel Roberts (166th, 41.09), Pete Thomas (170th, 41.35), Terry Egan (178th, 42.13), Max Chippington (183rd, 42.30 – highest-ever placing) and John Saw (208th, 56.00) made up the incomplete B team.
In the Midland Women’s Cross Country League at the same venue, Emily Waugh’s time of 26.11 was enough to secure her a season’s best 12th place.
Rosanna Andrews was also in form, finishing in a season’s peak of 28th thanks to a time of 27.26. Sarah Bennett completed her comeback from injury with a time of 30.18 in her first race of the season, enough for 74th as the senior team finished in 10th, their highest rank this term. Tilly Lea (30.30) was just seconds behind her team-mate in 80th.
Angela Copson (86th, 30.46), Kate Williams (103rd, 31.36) and Penny Andrews (112th, 32.31) made-up R&N’s first Masters team of the season, ending 11th.
The club also enjoyed success at the Midland Indoor Championships over the weekend – see next week’s paper for a full report.
PICTURE BY DAVE GODDARD