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Harriers produce 4 County Champions!

There was a fantastic start to the 2018 cross Country season with the first championship race of the season, the NAA County Championships, bearing considerable fruit in the form of four county champions and 8 team medals from a possible total of ten. The Championships were being hosted by Kettering Town Harriers and were held on a deceptively chilly day at the traditional venue of Wicksteed Park which despite all the recent rain / snow was in surprising good condition with generally firm conditions throughout the 3km course which made up the championship distances.

The first race of the day and single loop of 3km saw theU13 Boys and girls in action, and this saw the first Harrier crowned County Champion with a magnificent run from bottom year Lucas Rogers to take his first championship win. Lucas also headed the strong U13B team to a superb Team Gold.

County Champion - Lucas Rogers with his first Championship win in the U13B race.

It was a frantic start with bottom year harrier Jacob Asher-Relf taking an early lead and setting a ferocious pace, Asher Relf held the lead until midway when Lucas Rogers who had sat behind the early leaders forged his way to the front, a position he held until the finish. Rogers never looked in trouble once he had taken control and took his first championship win in style in 11.59, six seconds ahead of second place underlining his recent good form in races and in training. Asher-Relf held 2nd place until 500m to go when perhaps the fast start took its toll and he can be considered unfortunate to not have secured a medal with the R&N pair of Jasper Cooper & Louis Buttrick just managing to pass him to take the Silver & Bronze with Asher-Relf missing out by just 4 seconds in 4th in 12:12, but will take heart with his part in securing the team Gold. The U13B squad had strength in depth with a superb run from Alfie Frayne taking 5th position with a strong final km in 12:16, and bottom year Dylan White secured the final NAA automatic team selection with a terrific run to finish in 6th place in 12:20 just 2 ahead of Silson’s Edward Johnson. Ernie Jackson, also a bottom year athlete, ran a strong race for 15th place (13:10) with Ben Brooker & Theo Crick battling in the race finishing in 24th & 25th respectively. This was a terrific performance from the squad with many still bottom year showing their potential going forward.

The U13G also resulted in an individual medal with Harriett Round running a terrific race to secure the Bronze medal, which was a terrific achievement as a bottom year athlete with her only just returned to training with the squad after a long layoff through injury, Round battled hard in the closing stages to finish in 13:11 three seconds ahead of school rival R&N’s Olivia Williams. The other Harriers in action saw a strong run from Lauren Hewitt in 10th place (14:11) & Isabella Brockway with a very respectable run in 20th.

The U15 mixed race saw the second county champion of the day crowned with an imperious front running performance from Dylan Bowley to take the Gold medal a full minute from his nearest rival in 18:50 over the 5km course. Bowley went immediately to the front and quickly opened up a gap on second place, Banbury AC’s Skip Snelson, which grew throughout the race to finish a full minute in front, the second largest margin of the day. The Silver Team medal was secured with a fine run from Ollie Read who secure selection for the NAA County team with a fine run for 7th place (21:04) with the final scorer the much improved Josh Clutton in 12th place (22:22), & there was a brave run from Ryan Raulia who has not trained properly for the best part of 3 weeks due to illness, who finished in a respectable 16th place.

County Champion - Dylan Bowley with an imperious victory in the U15B race.

In the U15G race the KTH pair of Freya Batkin & Mia Brockway continued their battle and it was Batkin who had the edge on the day with a terrific battling run to secure the last automatic NAA County team slot in 6th place in 23:53, with Brockway just behind also securing selection in 7th place (24:38) with a fine run following a recent virus. With no third runner this was one of the few age category’s which failed to secure a team medal.

The mixed U17 race produced the third County Champion, this type for the girls with a supreme display of running from Emily Williams to easily win the U17W race over a longer 6km distance in 24:48 with the largest winning margin of the day ahead of R&N Amy Walker. Williams had a good battle with a number of the U17M, including club colleagues, but she relishes close female competition to bring out the best in her and this will certainly be evident later in the season with the Regional & National competitions coming up. It was an eventful race for the other Harriers competing with Poppy Carmichael competing with KTH’s Harriett Jolley for much of the race but sadly unable to continue due to the effects of a recent chest infection, Jolley continued to run strongly to secure the final automatic County vest in 6th place (29:25) while the final scorer Olivia Knibb ran well to finish oin 8th place to a KTH team Silver medal. Poppy Carmichael & Charlotte Maywood who was unable to run due to work commitment both appealed along with Elouise Coombs, all athletes of who have previous represented their county, for consideration for the final two county team positions, and Maywood can be considered very unfortunate to be edged out with coombs & Carmichael securing 7th & 8th place in the team.

County Champion - Emily Williams biggest winning margin of the day in U17W race

A weakened U17M’s race with Fynn Batkin missing due to a twisted ankle suffered earlier in the week meant we were denied one of the most eagerly awaited battles of the day between R&N Adam Searle & Fynn Batkin. As it was Searle easily won in 21:13, with a clean sweep of the medals for R&N. The Harriers contingent ran well securing a Bronze team medal with Josh Cannell top scoring in 9th (24:06) with jack Watson running well for 10th (24:12) and Morgan Potter the final scorer in 13th. Tom Jaward didn’t enjoy his best race finishing in 14th place with Freddie Blackman making his KTH debut in 16th place with a respectable run.

In the U11 races the Harriers secured team medals in both races with the girls securing a Bronze team medal with Magdalena Gancheva top scoring with a fine 5th place, with Evie Brooker in 16th & Ellie Warboys in 22nd. For the boys Zack Kirk-Bates top scored with a good run in 8th place, with Thomas Leak in 11th & Tristan Bamford in 18th securing a fine Silver Team medal. James Clutton ran well for 20th, with Oliver Leak just behind in 21st, and Jack Mowat in 23rd.

There were no athletes in the U20M category with Jack Hope & Josh Cara both unable to compete, but the U20W race ran with the senior women produced two individual medals with a fine run from Claudia Nevett who has found her feet after beginning University life at Loughborough in the autumn. Nevett was unable to trouble the winner, R&N Emma Bond, but ran strongly throughout to finish the 6km course in 25:54 and on this evidence she will improve with more races behind her. Sophie Moss ran a super race to track down R&N Kirsty Goddard in the latter stages of the race and finish strongly to take the Bronze medal (28:09), with Elana Albery, who has also just started university life at Bournemouth University, running well for 5th place (29:21). All three women qualify for the NAA U20 County team, and also top scoring in the SW competition they also secured a fine Bronze team medal. Other SW running well were Elaine Fairbrother who just missed out on the final scoring position with a spring to the line finishing in 15th place, with Kerry Munn in 16th place with a strong run, and Karen Albery & Trudi Pike in 18th & 19th position respectively. U20 Amy Robison unfortunately withdrew due to foot injury.

U20W from left to right Claudia Nevett Silver, Sophie Moss Bronze & Elana Albery helped to secure a Senior Women's Bronze Team Medal

The final race of the day saw the fourth and final County Champion crowned, with Jonathan Goringe securing the senior men’s title for the third year running. This was the most exciting race of the day with Goringe and R&N Dominic Jones & Birchfield’s Rory Grant all opening a huge gap on the rest of the field and locked in battle until the final 500m, a gentle downhill section to the finish. Goringe who was unable to shake off his opponents produced a kick which was as impressive as it was decicisive to open up 30m on Jones and power his way to an impressive victory in 35:20 over the 10km course. Jones & Grant secured the Silver (35:27) & Bronze (35:31) respectively. Harrier Jack Chennell, trying out cross country for the first time since his schooldays, showed that he should perhaps consider doing more in the future with a classy run for 10th position in 39:43, with Stephen Thompson running well for 13th place (41:33), Phil West with a terrific fighting sprint finish in 19th (42:13), Tony James in 21st place (42:30) and Edward Cannell with his trade mark superb sprint finish just reeling in club colleague Tom Shepherd on the line with both being given the same finishing time of 42:32 in 22nd & 23rd respectively. The top 6 placed Harriers secured a fine Silver medal and can take heart that had Josh Cara/ Jack Hope been competing they could have tipped the balance to snatch the Gold from R&N! Other Harriers in action were Phil Brigden 25th, Ross Brown 36th, Ian Hearne 39th, Andrew Clawson 40th, Paul Young 42nd & Steve Geary 43rd, with Martin Winstone sadly withdrawing due to injury.

County Champion - Jonathan Goringe superb kick to win the most exciting race of the day in the senior Men's race.

It was a terrific day racing for the Harriers with 4 county Champions, 7 individual Medals and 8 team Medals. There was also 16 of the junior sqad chosen to represent the NAA County team at the end of season UK Inter-County Championships on 10th March. The established stars performed like champions, and there is plenty of evidence of new talent coming through from the younger ranks.

Well done to everyone who competed.