A superb fifth placed finish in Saturday’s English Schools’ Cross Country Championships held at the Norfolk County Showground, Norwich, clinched a well-deserved England Schools’ vest for Jess Mitchell.
Having finished seventh in last weekend’s Inter Counties race over 5km in muddy conditions Jess excelled with an outstanding performance on a fast, flat 3.75km course. The 15-year-old Frances Bardsley GCSE Student will now line up next Saturday for the English Schools’ team in the Home Counties International in Port Talbot.
Her training partner Kate O’Neill, who finished 18th last year’s race and had herself hoped to be in the mix to challenge for a top eight international spot, was unable to produce her usual form in these conditions, after a difficult week of mock GCSE exams, and was naturally very disappointed with her 36th place finish. In the same race Molly Sweetman placed 72nd of the almost 350 finishers on her English Schools’ debut and all three Havering girls’ helped Essex to a third place finish.
Ben Davis led home the Essex squad in the senior boys’ race with his 23rd place, a major improvement on his 57th last year while Sydney Foley was second Essex finisher on her English Schools’ debut in 52nd place in the junior girls competition and Harry Jones placed 121st in the Inter Boys race, as the Essex county team were runners up.
Havering men’s team ended the season where they had started with more silverware as the Vets team won silver to maintain their medal winning run in every road relay since the competition started four years ago. Led off by a fast leg from Steve Rand (16.43) the team were always in medal contention. Matt Bland (17.42) kept up the good start with another strong run before handing over to Jason Lendon (17.46) who, although pulling a calf muscle half way round still managed to hang on to bring the team home in second place.
The Senior Men’s team ’A’ team were depleted by other races. Ian Anthony’s opening 17.37 leg handed over to James Stewart who did well with a 17:26 leg in his first senior road relay before passing the baton to Jamie Buckley Stanton. Jamie’s good 16:48 leg handed over to in-form Rob Warner who posted the squad’s fastest leg of the day, with15:49 but the gap was too much and the squad had to settle for a fifth place finish, as last year.
The ’B’ team of Russ Middleton (21.21), Alfie Waithaka (17.11), Tony Collins (21.15) and Trevor Robinson (23.17) battled gamely in the blustery conditions to bring the team home in 14th place.