Harriers Produce the Goods at NAA XC Champs

On a typically wet and cold early January weekend the County Championships held at Croyland Park provided a stern test for the Harriers but produced a significant return of team and individual medals (9 & 10 respectively) together with an equal record number of qualifiers for the NAA County Team of 19 athletes.

The main highlights were two individual county champions, Claudia Kelsall (U20W) and Hal Robinson (U11B), and no fewer than 6 team & 5 individual silver medals.

The mixed U11 race started proceeding and it proved to be one of the closest and most exciting races of the day with x2 Harriers leading throughout the boys race, battling each other throughout. Ollie Read set the initial pace over the 1500m course and opened up a 10m lead on Hal Robison with 500m to go, Hal was pushing him hard throughout the challenging course and with 300m to go Ollie can count himself most unfortunate to have been sent the wrong way by a Marshall which lost him vital ground & momentum and allowed Hal to close the gap he had built up, both were neck and neck along the 80m finishing straight with Hal just edging out his older rival by one second to take a magnificent Gold and a one/two for the Harriers. Debutant on XC Adam Jawad run well to finish in 11th and the team narrowly missed out on a team gold by 2 points to take the silver team medal. In the U11 girls race the Harriers ran well to win a Bronze team medal with Mia Brockway the highest scorer in 6th, Emma Robinson (Twin of Hal) ran well for 7th, and Miranda Jackson was third scorer in 9th.

The U13 Boys race was just as exciting for the Harriers contingent, with Henri Codling and Dylan Bowley in medal contention for Silver/ Bronze throughout, with the Gold secured by the remarkable Adam Caulfield who won by a comfortable margin. Henri had set off with expectation of an individual medal and pushed hard over the 2.5km course, but Dylan keep pace with him and despite his best intentions Henri was unable to shake him off, Dylan proved to be too strong in the final straight just edging out his older rival by 2 seconds to take a superb individual silver, with Henri securing the bronze, Harry Darnell was next finisher in a respectable 13th to help the team to take a narrow silver team medal, again just two point adrift of R&N. Both Dylan & Henri were selected for the county team.

The U13 Girls race produced one of the outstanding performances of the day with Jennifer Robinson stepping up her performances significantly to secure a surprise silver medal behind R&N Molly Williams, Jenn had battled in the closing stages to reel in Wellingborough & District’s Lucy Watts, to surge by her on the finishing straight to take second place. Freya Batkin also run a fine race to finish in 10th, with Harriet Drake-Lee third scorer in 17th helping to secure a team silver medal. Jennifer Robinson secured her county team selection & With Emily William (The red hot favourite missing through injury) also securing her county team selection though appeal.

The U15 Boys race was a quiet affair for the Harriers with the fast improving Fynn Batkin running a superb race to finish in 5th the best scorer, with Josh Cannell & Thomas Jawad also running well for 9th & 10th respectively, helping the harriers to yet another team silver. Fynn secured his county team selection along with the missing Jake Trent on appeal.

The U15 Girls was also a quiet affair, but two Harriers managed to battle their way into the county team with gutsy runs, best scorer was Chloe Hearn who enjoyed one of her best races ever over XC to finish in 5th, with Sophie Moss battling throughout the race with R&N Charis Hayes out sprinting her rival on the finishing straight to finish in 6th.

The U17 AG brought the most significant returns with Josh Cara running a strong race but surprisingly finishing behind R&N Jack Bond in silver medal position and jack Hope being relegated to bronze some 15 seconds behind Josh, both struggling to get going over the twisty course. Ethan Mehmet ran a fine race to finish in 6th place to help secure another team silver, agonisingly just 1 point behind R&N, with all 3 secured County team selection. In the corresponding U17 women’s race, there was no fewer than 5 Harriers selected for the county team with Elana Alberry the best scorer and running an excellent race for an individual bronze medal, supported well with Hannah Winstone running a strong race for 6th, and Ella Palmer enjoying her winter excursion on XC also running well for 7th helping the Harriers secure yet another Silver Team medal! Claudia Nevett (Missing through injury) & Beth Gordon who battled through in 8th also securing county team selection.

The U20 women’s race produced the second Gold medal with Claudia Kelsall now coming back into some form from injury running a superb race to take the title from fellow harrier Fran Ashworth, who also ran a solid race for the silver medal. The only sour note was the unfortunate withdrawal of Jess Gordon (Strained hamstring) preventing a team gold which had proved so elusive throughout the day. Jess along with Claudia & Fran were all selected for the county team.

In the senior teams, the women enjoyed a fine team bronze with Cluadia Kelsall, Fran Ashworth and Trudi pike top scorers. The Mens team also won a Bronze with Paul Thompson top scorer with a fine 5th supported well with Stephen Thompson (26th), Phil West (32nd), Kemal Mehmet (36th) Martin Winstone (41st) & Andrew Clawson (48th)

Well done to all who braved the conditions & competed over a very tough XC course.

Shane Smith XC Team Manager