Essex girls show their power at English Schools Cross-Country Championships (From Basildon Recorder)
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Essex girls show their power at English Schools Cross-Country Championships
IT was a case of girl-power for Essex at the English Schools Cross-Country Championships.
The county’s powerful intermediate girls squad won team gold medals, while the three age group teams combined together to be crowned overall girls champions.
And there was individual success too for Thurrock Harriers’ Gemma Holloway who becomes the latest south Essex athlete to earn an England vest after her eighth-placed finish in the intermediate girls race ensured she will race for her country in a Home Nations Cross-Country in Wales this weekend.
“It’s what she has been working hard for and she’s done it,” said Holloway’s mum Julie.
“She has struggled with injury this year and has worked so hard for this. You could see coming into the finish line that she was determined to hold on to that eighth qualifying place.
“She has got her England vest and she can relax and go out there and do her best.”
Holloway was the first Essex athlete to cross the line in the all-conquering intermediate girls team followed by Jess Burgess (15th), Katie Solis (20th) and Lydia Hallam (23rd).
Benfleet RC’s Victoria Hiscock rounded off what has been a super winter season by coming home fifth Essex counter – and as she is in the bottom year of the category, first of her age group – in a brilliant 29th place with Amelia Barrett rounding off the scoring in 36th.
The team won by a huge margin of 152 points – highlighting the county’s strength in depth in this age group.
The senior girls team were led by another superb run from Basildon AC’s Alice Perkins who came home in ninth place, despite being the youngest year in the age group. It was the second highest finish by any Essex runner of the day.
Girls’ team captain Kaylee Dodd also had her best run of the winter, finishing as second Essex scorer in 57th place, just ahead of Basildon AC team-mates Eleanor Johnson (65th) and Jade Peel (80th). Emma Houchell, another Basildon athlete, was the sixth counter in 112th spot as Essex finished in fifth place.
The junior girls team went one place better, finishing just outside the medals in fourth. But they did take home a trophy for having the highest place eighth and final finisher home.
Of the south Essex athletes in the team, Jodie Judd was the first back in 44th place while there was a terrific run by Katie Faint to come home as the sixth scorer in 85th place. Sinead Clark, who like Faint is at the younger end of the age group, was an encouraging 102nd while Gemma Archer-Haley, who goes to William Edwards School in Grays, rounded things out in 154th place.
If it was joy for the girls, it proved a tough experience for a lot of the boys, many of whom found themselves barely able to run after falling victims to a bug which swept through the squad.
The intermediate boys team were particularly badly hit as they only managed to get five counters back after the likes of Westcliff’s George Elliott and Southend AC’s Adam Jordan, as well as team leader Jordan Rowe, were all affected by the illness.
Basildon AC’s Adam Houchell was the second Essex athlete home in 50th place while Eastwood School’s James Nadin was 116th.
The junior boys leader and medal hope Canaan Soloman was another to pull out because of illness which hit the team’s overall chances.
Basildon AC’s Max Jones ran well to lead the team home in 25th place while, not far behind, team-mate Gus Withers had a barnstorming run to finish in 49th place.
Withers, who goes to Eastwood Academy, is another in the younger end of the age group, and finished an impressive eighth overall for his age.
Thurrock Harriers’ Jody Meredith was 97th, while Basildon AC’s Ollie Cantwell (143rd) pipped Southend AC’s Toby Wright (146th) in the sprint for the line.
It was left to boys’ team captain Tom Richardson (Basildon AC) to provide the run of the day for Essex’s men as he backed up his excellent run at the UK Intercounties a week earlier with another encouraging run, finishing 13th in the senior boys’ race.
Southend AC’s Oliver Kyriakides also made-up the six-man Essex scoring team as he finished in 134th place. The team finished fourth, an agonising eight points shy of a medal. Southend AC’s Rob Frith was just outside the scoring team in 150th.