The cross country season finished on a high for our Younger Athletes with a trip to Prestwold Hall in Loughborough on Saturday for the National Primary Schools and Year 7 XC Champs. 20 Athletes travelled up and joined coaches John Stow, Steve Cody, Libby Kozak and Kerry Harrington with the help of Alicia McArdell taking a day off from her university studies to cheer on our group (pictured).
Beautiful warm spring weather welcomed the team, who found the course soft underfoot but luckily only boggy in a couple of places.
In the Year 5 Girls race we fielded 5 runners for the 2000m course. First home out of the 223 runners was Holly Hudson, running for Hertfordshire, with a brilliant 44th, scoring for her county to help them win the County Team silver, which she accepted from Jenny Meadows (photo right), the team prize not being available to club teams. Next in was Rosemary Kelly who, having recently won the West Essex District XC, found herself on a much bigger stage but still impressed her new coach with a very good 59th place. Then came Molly Wain in (109), closely followed by Charlotte Harrington (114) and Isabelle Matheron (153).
The Year 5 Boys race had one athlete in club colours and one running for Hertfordshire. Jamie McGovern, running for his county, produced a fine run for 59th, and running for the club was Freddie Howard who finished 153rd out of 237 in his first outing. He showed great strength in recovering from a nasty push in one of the tight early sections, keeping on his feet to get home in one piece.
Our Year 6 Girls, full of confidence after winning the Met League, were out in force. A fine performance by Kezia Beeton brought her home in 19th. Larna Morgan finished next, suffering from a cold but with enough fight to achieve a very creditable 45th place. Then came Molly Matheron (52) and Belle Howard, who had lost both her shoes fairly early on in the race but showed typical Woodette spirit and ran home barefoot (photo left)! Bronya Overington was next, disappointed with 119th after being boxed in at the start, and Ruby Castle brought the team home in 180th.
The Year 6 Boys race was always going to be good after some recent fine performances. However, with 2 of their team missing through illness, they were unable to field a full team with six counting - yet they still put Woodford Green firmly on the map. Jimmy Geller, recently nicknamed ‘Turbo’, lived up to his moniker and was out of the pen like a shot as per the photo below.
Perhaps slightly too fast, with a 20m lead for the first 1500m. He held on until the last 300m but was beaten by 6 seconds. He was over the moon with a silver medal and cup to boot. James Brigstocke Williams, usually never far from Jimmy, found he had not got out quickly enough and was caught up at times in what was nearly pedestrian pace bottlenecks. However when he got free he still managed a great 24th. Next was Luca Gormley in 25th, then Sid Cody, who is happier with a longer distance, in 64th. And Dylon White, who had been struggling the whole season with injury, was really pleased to finish in 224th.
Finally, in the Year 7 race, Maxwell Chinn, representing Hertfordshire, was looking to better his 12th place from last year. However, he didn’t get a great start as he was tripped by a county team-mate and was left with an uphill struggle c,oming home in 53rd. He will be disappointed but should take heart from the grit he showed in picking himself up and forcing himself back through the pack. In Woodford colours Jay Russell, in his first major event and without a cross country season behind him, found it to be a baptism of fire. More a fan of the shorter distances, he found himself short on stamina but gave a gutsy performance - so much so that he was sick at the finish, although he still managed a smile!
Our young athletes really enjoyed the day. Many got some valuable experience which will stand them in good stead for the future and, while our year 6 kids can look forward to the track season, our U13 team managers can look forward to some really strong middle distance performances coming down the line.
Over in Reigate more great Woodford runners could be found at the South East Schools Year 7and 8 Inter-County match. Zahara Malcolm, who prefers a shorter distance, ran well for 42nd, covering the 3000m course in 13’00” dead.