ALEX ADAMS clinched the West Midlands Junior Cross Country League title for the third successive year with a race to spare after triumphing in the latest race at Abington Park, Northampton.
The best four finishes out of five races determine the final placings and Adams has already done enough to ensure he cannot be caught in the U13 boys’ competition.
Tessa Parkin (U11 girls) and Georgie Campbell (U17 women) also ran fine races to confirm their second-placed league positions.
Overall, Stratford Athletic Club finished in fourth position, ensuring they remain in third place in the league with one race to go.
Adams (1st, 10:05) secured his U13 boys’ title with another confident run, leading from start to finish, although in a slight variation on the usual script the second and third-placed runners were able to keep him in sight on this occasion.
Having won the county title in the first weekend in January, this is another fabulously successful season for the talented athlete. In the same race, Oscar Fines-Allin (23rd, 11:22) and Theo Skirvin (25th, 11:22) crossed the line together after an impressive late charge from Skirvin and it was only the chip timing which determined the final finish positions. Henry Wheeler (51st, 12:21) completed the team.
The U11 girls’ title was won by Ella Darby of Rugby & Northampton with another strong and confident run, leading from the start.
Parkin (second, 7:54) continued her fine season in her usual indomitable fashion, barnstorming her way through the field from 25th position to finish in second place for the fourth race in a row.
Annie Silvers (ninth, 8:12) had a fast start and was pleased with her second top ten finish. Harriet Black (33rd, 8:55) had another good race and the other scoring positions were taken up by Ruby Edwards (42nd, 09:08) and Marijke Tear-Verweij (43rd, 9:08) who battled each other to the line.
Olivia Hawkyard (49th, 9:14) and Eleanor McElvogue (99th, 10:39) made up the remainder of the team.
Georgie Campbell, who won the U15 girls’ title last year and who also won the county title the previous weekend, secured second place in the U17 women’s event after another battling run with Ella Semple of Birchfield Harriers.
As in the past two races, Campbell and Semple were neck and neck for the first three-quarters of the race, with Semple pulling away on the final lap. Abbie Wootton, (17th, 20:05), Imogen Sheppard (21st, 20:19), Daisy Musk (26th, 20;52) and Charlotte Gravelsons (38th, 22:50) all pushed themselves hard, but were a little down the field from previous fixtures, giving the team fourth place on the day but retaining second place in the league.
Owain Jones (19th, 20:14) was back in form to lead the U17 men’s team for Stratford AC, having struggled with illness in the previous fixture. Looking strong throughout, he moved a few places up the field in the second half of the race to ensure another top 20 placing.
Will Crowfoot (27th, 21:05) stole a few places on his brother Tom (30th, 21:27) and Ollie Adams (35th, 26:08) completed the team.
The U15 boys’ race saw a powerful performance from James Mucklow (15th, 13:18), who looked in fine form and was tenacious to hold on to his position in a crowded finish. Cameron Thomas (37th, 14:07) was first home among a group of strong Stratford finishers, including Christopher Hunt (42nd, 14:30), Caleb Spriggs (47th, 14:46) and Josh Dobedoe (49th, 14:50), ensuring fourth place for the team.
Joel Watson (58th, 15:56) and Harry Gravelsons (59th, 15:57) had a tussle at the line to finish good runs from both.
As usual, Stratford fielded a large team in the U13 girls’ race and the consistent Maddie Linfoot (18th, 12:02) achieved another top 20 finish, closely followed by Olivia Robinson (26th, 12:14) in her second league race of the season. Leah Bowen (43rd, 12:40) found the terrain challenging and slipped down the field in the second half of the race to finish third for Stratford.
Poppy Fox-Rowe (47th, 12:46) and the improving Maisie-Joy Spriggs (48th, 12:46), who had a fine competitive finish, completed the scoring positions. Scarlett Richardson (50th, 12:50), Holly Newton (57th, 13:01), Abbi Cooper (60th, 13:05), Caitlin Boyle (63rd, 13:10), Lucy Thomas (64th, 13:10), Niamh Hillard (66th, 13:14), Tilly Campbell (83rd, 13:45), Katie Pridham (101st, 14:47) and Georgia Pridham (108th, 16:18) completed the team.
The U11 boys have a competitive squad this year and Seb Hillard (24th, 7:56), who was back to full health, led home a close-knit group of Joe Lewis (26th, 7:58), Flynn Dathan (29th, 8:04) and James Day (31st 8:04).
Maxime Verstraeten (42nd, 8:18) perhaps paid the price for too fast a start and found the second half tough going. Oliver Hemming (50th, 8:25), Joshua Davies (55th, 8:30), Alex McMillan (56th, 8:31), Ed Thomas (91st 9:27) and Josh Harrison (105th, 10:09) made up a strong turnout for the team.
In the final race of the day, Ellie Deaner (22nd, 15:26) again showed her fighting qualities. Having been overtaken by team-mate Gigi Thomas (26th, 15:34) on the first lap, she overtook in turn and held on to be first-placed finisher for Stratford.
Charlotte Marshall (56th, 17:52) and Aimee Harridge both contributed valuable points for the team (77th, 22:03).
The Abington Park venue in Northampton is a long trek across the Midlands from Stratford and this resulted in the team being a little down on numbers, contributing to the fourth place on the day.
Nonetheless, it continues to be a strong season overall, with the third-placed league position being maintained. The final race of the season will be held at Aldersley Stadium, Wolverhampton.
Report compiled by David Parkin.