A total of 30 young athletes assembled at Berry Hill Park where overnight rain was clearing to leave a sunny afternoon. The course, unlike the previous two years, was soft underfoot with muddy stretches in the woods following the rain. This year our efforts were wonderfully rewarded by a marvellous gold medal in the U15 Boys category.
Under 15 Boys
Following on from our 16th place last year the boys plus Team Manager were hoping for a single figure finish. Sidnie Ward, following his excellent showing in the Essex Relays last month, was moved to the A team. Sidnie was unfortunate to fall at the start, losing valuable ground. He soon got going and coming out of the woods was seen in 12th spot. He then really opened up on the final 800 metres to come in 5th, just 5 seconds behind the leader.
Kieran Allgood, given leg 2 following an excellent run in the Essex League the previous Saturday, really rose to the big occasion. Halfway round the 2k leg Kieran took the lead and continued in fine style. Despite being overhauled by Junior Boys International Kennedy of Herne Hill he ended up in 2nd spot. Kai Boggon took care of our last leg and had some fine athletes chasing him including English Schools 1500 champion Hussey. Kai was brilliant, taking the Herne Hill runner early on, and never looked back thereafter as he took the green and white hoops through the tape for a fantastic victory, bringing a National title back to Woodford. Worth noting from 130 starting teams Kieran was 9th fastest overall on leg 2 and Kai was 4th fastest on leg 3.
The team are pictured above. From L to R: coach/manager John Stow, Kieran Allgood, Kai Boggon, Sidnie Ward and coach Richard Thurston.
The B team can take great pride from an excellent 29th place. Rhys Edwards showed he can get away in big mass starts. Unfotunately for Rhys, who has improved beyond all recognition this year, he paid for a fast start to place 59th. Take nothing away from the lad, he gave his all as he always does. On leg 2 Ben Sloan had a great run, moving up 22 places to pass to his twin brother Sam who, like Ben, ran really well and gained another 8 places. Both Ben and Sam are hoping for selection to run for Hertfordshire, and their runs today, I am sure, will impress the county selector.
The C team was started by Joe Morgan who had a good run for 53rd, running strongly towards the end. Liam Waldron, who is enjoying a good XC season, came in 63rd with his fastest time around the course by quite a margin. The same applies to Brandon Baldacci who took nearly 30 seconds off his best time to bring the club home in 65th.
Under 17 Men
Joe Geller, a bottom year Under 17 lad, got the ball rolling for us and placed a fine 16th from nearly 90 starters. Joe was only just beaten by Cordery from Chelmsford, who won the Essex League the previous Saturday. Next up was another bottom year Under 17 in Todd Maleary who is also running well. Although Todd dropped to 23rd he should feel pleased with his performance. Twin brother Hayden took the last leg against some top Under 17s and finished in 30th. As they all have another year in the age group they should be happy with their overall performance.
Under 13 Girls
The club entered two teams and the six girls should be proud of their achievements. These girls are so supportive of one another and have made good friends since joining WG&EL.
Zahara Malcolm took the first leg. Recovering from a cold, Zahara worked hard throughout coming in 31th from 130 runners. Next on was bottom year Larna Morgan who came in 39th but gave her all as she always does. West Essex Schools XC champion Kezia Beeton took the last leg to come in 38th. This was a good performance considering it was their first time at this event.
For the other team, Miya Maeda set out on leg 1. Miya has only recently joined our club and should feel very content with 63rd from the 130 starters. Bronya Overington took leg 2 with a good run placing us 67th, and Triathlete Emily Scofield, always smiling, came home in 75th.
Under 15 Girls
These three girls who are great club athletes did the club proud once again. Wren Jackson was recovering from a nasty bout of flu but showed she is on the road to recovery with a fine showing of 53rd from 120 starters, in front of a Basildon runner who had placed 8th in the Essex League the week before. Ellen Savidge, the reigning West Essex Schools XC champion, took up the challenge on leg 2 and ran strongly for 77th. Hollie McArdell showed great courage on getting around the 2k circuit while recovering from a couple of injuries, to bring the club home in 87th.
Under 13 Boys
Like their Under 15 counterparts, these are the current reigning county champions. We had three teams entered, with Jimmy Geller setting out on the first leg for the A team. Jimmy was unfortunate to be spiked early on which left him shaken, but he should feel happy with 31st. Another who has improved beyond all recognition this year, Nathan Wright, took over from Jimmy but bad luck once again struck our team as Nathan suffered a nasty fall in the woods which left him both shaken and muddy. He can be proud of the fact he finished as he lost many places during the fall. Alessandro Berni took care of leg three and promptly took 10 places as he stormed through to 29th place. The boys will gain from this experience and next year will seek to emulate the Under 15 boys, as they will all still be eligible for this age group.
Luca Gormley started the B team and ran well for 59th. Evan Johnson, who is another runner pushing for Herts selection, did his cause the world of good by moving through to 45th place. Ronan Edwards moved up to the B team after his Essex run and can feel satisfied by closing the team in 51st place.
Sid Cody led out for the C team. Having impressed his PE teachers wit a fine run at school only two days previously, he came in 85th. Another gaining in confidence, Ben Savidge, moved through five places on his leg to hand over to Jay Russell, who was drafted in late to replace an injured runner. Jay, who feels much more comfortable on a track, ran well to move the boys through to 75th.
So everyone left the venue in very high spirits after the Under 15 Boys fine championship win. Every single athlete who ran at Mansfield should feel proud of themselves for bravely facing the challenge of competing against the best in the country.
Once again I thank all the parents for transporting the runners to Mansfield and we now look forward to the Met League at Welwyn Garden City and the Green & White hoops getting a good turnout - hopefully overhauling a 1 point deficit in the Howard Williams Junior Trophy.