Harrier’s scoop Team Gold at Midland Champs

The KTH middle distance squad stepped up to the mark on Saturday at the Midland Counties Cross Country Championships by becoming the U20M Team Champions with a hard fought race, and there was further individual medal success for U13 Dylan Bowley with a superb silver medal. This is the second year running where the squad have secured an U20 team Gold with the U20W winning in 2015, and the U20M in their first year in the AG showed their strength in depth by securing a Gold by the narrowest of margins, with an identical points total to Tiption Harriers, the win coming courtesy of the final scorer being placed higher.
The Championships had been hastily rearranged due to a waterlogged Stafford Common, and the replacement held on the splendid grounds of Prestwold Hall were a real tough challenge with the course being on very wet & uneven pasture land, with some deceptively challenging hills and a stiff breeze, this was a proper cross country test.

In the opening race U13 Dylan Bowley secured a fine individual Silver medal, and was renewing his season long battle with Corby AC’s Archie Parkinson, the two both highly ranked in the UK have been trading blows from the winter seasons opening Midland Counties road relays through to the first two county championships of 2016 where Dylan had won 3 of the 4 races. On this occasion with tired legs from the UK Cross third place 6 days earlier, Archie proved too strong for Dylan and opened up a 50m gap by the midway point, Dylan managed to close the gap in the dying stages but was happy to settle for the runner up spot, with the UK cross his main priority this season. Archie completed the slightly longer than advertised 3km course in 12:38, with Dylan just 12 seconds behind at the finish. Dylan was delighted with his run, and will look to rekindle their battle later in the season hopefully on fresher legs. In the team stakes the Harriers U13 Boys put in a credible performance to finish in 5th place ahead of local rivals R&N, with Ollie Read running a fine race for 36th (14:26) and new recruit Ben Holborow also running well for 43rd place (14:41) & final scorer Josh Geddes a credible run in 67th (15:34), with 99 athletes competing in the race.

Dylan Bowley in Battle with Archie Parkinson won a superb individual Silver Medal

The next race the Harriers continued their medal winning performance with a superb U20M Gold team medal with Josh Cara & Jack hope continuing their personal battle for club supremacy both locked in battle throughout the tough 6km course, Josh had a terrific start and had opened up a small gap on Jack, who managed to work his way back on the opening lap but he was never able to go past his rival with the two refusing to concede any ground. They stayed locked together with 500m to go where Josh put in a final effort to stretch away from Jack eventually finishing in a fine individual 13th place in 26:59, with Jack closing him down in the final 50m just 4 seconds adrift in 14th place (27:03), with both bottom year in a 3 year AG this was an encouraging performance. In the team stakes, solid runs from Matthew Brookes who battled throughout the tough course to finish in a fine 33rd (30:50) and the ever dependable Edward Cannell who always puts in a shift the final scorer in 35th (30:36) securing a team victory by the smallest of margins with KTH exactly matching Tipton Harriers on 95 points, and the win coming courtesy of the countback, the Harriers also beat the strong Nott’s AC which is a credit to the strength in depth in the squad.

U20M Midland County XC Champions

Matt Brookes, Jack Hope, Josh Cara, Edward Cannell

The U13 girl’s race over 3km was a quiet affair with Freya Batkin who was experiencing this level of competition for the first time again leading the way for the small contingent of Harriers, Frey who is a bottom year athlete acquitted herself very well with a splendid run to finish in 15th place in 14:58 and will use this as a marker for next year. Skye-Lilly Kay who was celebrating her birthday also run well to finish in 70th position, with Mia Brockway unfortunately withdrawing during the race with breathing difficulties post virus.
Fynn Batkin, older brother of Freya showed his level of improvement with an excellent top 10 finish to complete the 4km course in 17:50 for a fine 8th position, this compares to 49th just 12 months ago! Henri Codling a bottom year U15 showed his improving form with a gutsy race to finish in 29th place (19:17) and also improving considerably year on year was Josh Cannell who ran a solid race to finish in 38th place (65th in 2015).

In the 5km combined U20/ U17 W race there was a strong contingent of U17’s, but sadly the U20W defending champions could not defend their title won in 2015 due to University commitments. Claudia Nevett is showing great form at the moment, and ran a terrific race to finish just outside the top 10, in 8th place with 23:16, with a fine run, leading the 3 to score team to a highly credible 5th place. Second scorer for the team was the consistent Elana Albery who ran a great race for 20th position (24:30) and Sophie Moss ensured she was third scorer with a fine battling run to finish in 27th (25:00) ahead of local rival Niamh Watson. Two athletes working their way back from recent illness, Chloe Hearne & Ella Palmer also ran fine races for 36th (26:04) and 38th (26:28) respectively with Ella Palmer showing her 400m pace with a superb finish to take two places on the line including R&N U20 Kirsty Goddard.

In the U15G race over 4km it was a chance for Emily Williams to test herself with better competition, and she enjoyed a terrific race to finish just outside of the medal positions in 5th place in 19:51. Emily was unable to go with a breakaway group at the midway point, but proved that as a bottom year athlete that she will be looking to medal next year. Two athletes inexperienced athletes experiencing regional level competition for the first time both ran well in the tough conditions with Alice Gammon finishing in 63rd (23:36) & Harriett Jolly who just days earlier was running a high temperature with a nasty virus running well to finish in 74th (24:15) with both sowing great potential in the coming years.

With no U17 or Senior Men entered the last race with Harrier interest was the senior women’s race, with x4 Harriers running well, most prominent was Trudi Pike who ran a solid race to finish in 114th, with Karen Albery in 123rd running well & Jackie King/ Kerry Munn finishing in 155th & 160th respectively, and the team finishing in a respectable 20th position.

The medal return of one Gold team and a Silver individual together with two top 10 placings is the best return for many years and testament to the in depth talent in the middle distance squad, who now look forward to the Anglian Trophy in Boston with English Schools qualification places up for grabs.

Well Done to all who ran.