On Saturday 17th March, Shrewsbury School sent 12 runners to represent Shropshire in the English Schools Cross-Country final, held at Temple Newsam Park in Leeds. Such a high number representing the county at this event is testament to the depth currently enjoyed at the School in this sport, and to the hard work of the individual athletes who worked so hard to earn their place.
On a bitterly cold day involving over 2,000 runners across three age categories, Shropshire acquitted themselves extremely well amongst some of the best athletes in the country. Through the biting wind and flurries of heavy snow interspersed with patches of sunshine, our little band of 12 fought for position within the huge juggernaut of runners over the first straight of about 500m. Each of the six races had about 350 competitors, so this was no mean feat!
The outstanding performance of the day undoubtedly came from Chessie Harris (EDH), who in the Intermediate Girls category managed to place an astonishing 12th overall, despite being a year young for the age group. Her development this year has been very pleasing indeed to her coach, Mr Russell, who was delighted with the result. Given that she was well in touch with the leading five (less than 20 seconds behind 5th place), she will certainly be eyeing a podium spot in this race next year if all goes to plan.
Elsewhere, Harrison Cutler (R) ran very well in the Junior Boys race, placing 131st and 3rd for his county, while Charlie Huntley (R) and Jonny Price (I) came 300th and 337th in this stellar field.
In the Intermediate Boys, Oscar Hamilton-Russell (R) had a terrific race to achieve his 100th place, and like Chessie, he is still a year young in this age group so will look to improve on that next year. Likewise Tom Jackson (R), whose 149th suggests he can really push on from here next year. Sam Western (PH) struggled a bit, having suffered a bout of ill health in the week leading up to this race, but he showed a lot of grit to get round in 239th and place 6th for his county. He’ll be in the senior age category next year, but will be aiming for top hundred nevertheless.
Amongst the senior girls. Immie Evans (G) ran very well to place 250th, while Felicity Hayward (EDH), though finding the level of competition very demanding, battled through to finish 316th.
The senior boys set an electrifying pace early in their race, and Charlie Ockleston (O), Ali Harris (R) and Tom Hughes (Ch) all struggled for position in the mass of runners. Nevertheless, they worked their way through the field well, and while Charlie had to withdraw suffering a knee complaint, Ali managed a very creditable 216th, while Tom placed 293rd. As Upper Sixth leavers this year, it’s great that these two can point to this as a real achievement at the end of their running career at Shrewsbury – it really doesn’t get much more prestigious for U18 runners than this event.