England vest No2 for Emily!

Emily Williams produced another outstanding performance to win her second England call up in successive years by finishing in the top 8 as a bottom year athlete in the Inter Girls English Schools Cross Country Championships in Norwich.

Emily Williams delighted to win her second England vest!

The Championship, held on a pleasantly warm flat and firm course at the Norfolk Showground in Norwich, is a chance for the best athletes in England to compete to win an England vest and represent their country at the SAIB Schools International against Scotland, Combined Ireland & Wales. This was the main seasons target for Emily who was a surprise winner 1 year ago as a top year Junior, and to win another England vest at a bottom year athlete is a magnificent achievement for her.

The Championships which featured 13 athletes from the Harriers middle distance squad in the x6 AG races were started with the Intermediate Girls featuring Emily Williams & Poppy Carmichael. From the start Williams was prominent, settling into the top group which was pushing hard in a attempt to split the pack and after 1.5km a breakaway group of 3 athletes had forged a gap with Williams battling with 4 athletes just behind. Williams was unable to make up the gap on the leaders and the medals were effectively decided with 1km left, but she ran a strong race to ensure she made the top 8, eventually finished in a superb 7th place over the 3.75km course in 12:48 to secure her selection. Team mate Poppy Carmichael, who has been steadily improving over the winter, enjoyed her best race of the season to narrowly miss securing the second Northants scorer, finishing in 150th place (14:18) an identical time as Corby AC’s Eloise Coombes, with the latter being given the nod.

Magnificent run for 7th place for Emily Williams

Coach Shane Smith said “To win back to back England vests at the most competitive of events in athletics is a truly exceptional feat, especially as a bottom year athlete, and Emily now gets an opportunity to represent her country again and everyone connected to her club, Kettering Town Harriers, and the whole of the Town & wider Northamptonshire should be rightly proud of this achievement”.

In the next race, Dylan Bowley who was competing at a top year Junior ran a terrific race to secure a top 50 placing over the 4km course. Bowley got a great start settling into the leading runners after the opening 800m, but as the race progressed he was unable to maintain the pace, dropping back slightly on the second lap but battling throughout to secure a highly credible 47th place in 13:23.

Dylan Bowley great performance for 47th place

The two bottom year Harriers competing in the Junior Girls race, Mia Brockway & Freya Batkin, both ran well to put in credible performances over the 3.25km course to finish in 248th (12:54) & 315th (13:10) respectively, with Brockway again just securing bragging rights in the squad.

Fynn Batkin, competing as a top year Intermediate boy, also produced an outstanding run to finish in 41st place and top Northants scorer over the 6km course in 19:23, just seeing off the fast finishing R&N rival Adam Caulfield with both athletes being given an identical time. Batkin was prominent at the start of the race, but the strong pace proved too much for him, and he dropped into the chasing pack after the first 3km lap, but it was an excellent run and a significant improvement on his 123rd placing 1 year ago.

Fynn Batkin superb run to finish top Northants athlete in 41st place

The final race of the day featuring Harriers athletes was in the Senior Girls race over a relatively short 4km course, in which the Harriers had 7 of the 8 places for the County team. Claudia Nevett who would have preferred a longer course was again the lead scorer with a super run to finish in 128th place in 15:20. Bethan Lewis enjoyed a fine run to finish 3rd county scorer in 215th place (16:08), with the consistent Sophie Moss in 240th (16:25), Elana Albery 251st (16:33) & Chloe Hearne 289th (17:36). Lilly Carmichael sadly had to withdraw through injury.

There was a surprise award for the whole Northants Girls team who had secured a fine third place overall in the county contest, which saw similar sized counties competing for honours.

Some of the Harriers who helped Northants to a surprise 3rd team award

For most the XC season now comes to an end, with most athletes now taking a well-earned break before track season starts. Emily Williams however, has to prolong her XC season for 1 more week with the SAIB International next weekend in South Wales, which she will not mind at all!