AFTER making it through school, district and county competitions, 46 athletes from schools in the Herefordshire and Worcestershire area headed to Sefton Park in Liverpool to represent their school and county in the New Balance English Schools’ Cross Country Championships.
This is an annual national schools competition in which 45 counties come together to compete for individual and team trophies – competing against the best in the country in races with up 350 competitors.
It is a tough event, but everyone was grateful for the chance to compete in one of the last athletics competitions able to go ahead for the foreseeable future.
The muddy course was one of the challenges, but nevertheless all H&W athletes completed their respective races and, with at least six finishers, Herefordshire & Worcestershire yet again featured in all the team score results and an aggregate team score total for males and females – a great achievement for a small (by population) county area.
There were less H&W athletes in the top 100 finishers this year, although five team teams achieved very similar team totals, with the girls’ aggregate scores just over 200 points ahead of the boys.
The senior boys and girls teams gained the best points scores (1,044 and 1,045 respectively, both placing 32nd in the county placings), whilst the intermediate girls placed in the highest county position – 29th with 1,058 points.
The best finisher amongst the H&W athletes was Lucy Hatfield from Bromsgrove School, placing 71st in the junior girls race, whilst her sister Natalie Hatfield (also Bromsgrove School) finished 77th in the intermediate girls race. Natalie was the highest placed female athlete last year.
Amelia Hartshorn from Haybridge HS, Hagley, was close behind, finishing 80th in the intermediate girls race.
Girls team captain Holly Love (The Chase School, Malvern) was the other H&W athlete to gain a top 100 place, finishing 99th in the senior girls race – her sixth and final year at English Schools’ Cross Country.
Her team-mate Tiegan Ward, from Hereford Sixth Form College, was close behind, finishing 112th.
Emma Young, from Malvern College, improved her position by 80 places from last year to place 108th in the junior girls age group, whilst Lilia Mico (Malvern St James) in her first English Schools’ competition finished 136th in the same race.
Amongst the H&W boys there was a battle to be the highest finisher. Thomas Birley (another Malvern College athlete) secured this accolade in his first year as an intermediate boy in 110th place.
Samuel Lea from Bishop Perowne HS, Worcester, followed him home with 127th place in the intermediate boys race.
Matthew Bevins (Aston Fields Middle School, Bromsgrove) placed 111th in the junior boys race in his first appearance in this competition, with Finnan Robins (Trinity HS, Redditch) finishing 143rd.
In the senior boys age group, Malachi Cashmore from The Chase School in Malvern improved on his position from last year to be the highest H&W athlete, placing 123rd.
Team-mates Harrison Mayne (St Augustine’s High School, Redditch) and Sam Davey (Worcester Sixth Form College) – both in their first year as seniors – were next home in 137th and 154th places respectively.
This year’s boys captain was Laurie Higgins, from King’s School in Worcester.