Havering AC’s strong start to the Essex Cross Country League season continued as they again recorded five team wins at a blustery Horseheath Race course near Cambridge in the second-round fixture on Saturday.
With Essex county selection for the Southern Inter counties team on offer for the first seven finishers in each age group competition was tougher than usual in some age groups as guest from clubs outside the Essex league were invited.
The Under 13 Boys bagged a second successive win to head the table, but Southend pushed them close, scoring the same points tally but lost out based on the position of their fourth scorer. All four scorers made the top twelve. Oliver Taylor-Bush in fifth and Ryan Carroll one place back earned county invites, with Nathan Hart tenth and Toby Johnson twelfth the other scorers. Joseph Oton (14th) and Zack Higgins (17th) were next, with Sean Langan & Alfie Geeves 21st & 22nd and Joseph Gray, Michael Tesi and Waleed Kabuye also flew the flag.
The Under 13 Girls were runners up to Chelmsford again. Abigail Swan was fifth to gain Essex selection, with Hannah Evans ninth and Rosie Warner in 17th but with Charlotte Evans unable to finish Maisie Lee in 42nd was an important scorer to complete a scoring four who did enough to place second.
Both Under 15 teams won again to stay top of the table. The Under 15 Girls were comfortable winners with five in the top 12. Ruby Higgins was sixth and Chloe Rand seventh to make the selected seven and Tilly Canty and an off-colour Natalie Sewell in 9th & 10th completed the scorers with Nicole Langan a fine 12th. Hannah Yexley (18th) and Maddie Barker (31st) completed the line-up. The Under 15 Boys once again had all four scorers in the top 15. Matthew Blacklock was again fourth and Charlie Howell one place back to earn selection with Dan Peters in 13th and Shane Hart 15th giving the squad a four point cushion over Southend. Max Robbins, Finley Wolton and Charlie Burgess were in the top 30 and Owen Fisher and Archie Winney also played their part.
The Senior Ladies carried on their strong league title defence with another victory. Morgan Campbell led them home in fourth with Ginte Bailey in sixth and Clare Davies (23rd) and Bella Woods (25th) completed the winning quartet. Jo Sullivan was 48th, with Tracy O’Neill 71st, Clare Rudgely 81st and 90th placed Jane Hallam bringing the team home.
The Senior Men improved their chances of defending their league title with a second victory despite losing several strong runners with illness. Rob Warner kept up his string of top ten finishes with a good eighth place and another great run placed Under 20 Sam Atkins 11th. Good runs from James Stewart 20th and Gavin Watts 21st helped keep the pressure on the opposition as the scoring six was completed by Gavin Maley who ran well for 33rd place with Barry Smith in 35th. Steve Rand was next home in 38th one place in front of a greatly-improved Kieran O’Hara, while Matt Bland 49th and John Whitehead 59th were followed home by Louis Berrett 64th. Veterans Tony Pecoraro 86th, Gary Atkins 88th, Steve Walker 90th and Paul Berrett 100th all made the top hundred and Tony Collins completed the squad in 148th.
Sydney Foley was a great runner up in the Under 17 Girls / Under 20 women race as the team were a good third. Sophie Rand (15th), Rebecca O’Rourke (25th) and Morgan Romain (28th) were the scorers and Ella Burgess placed 31st. Alex Ford was the only Under 17 Men on show for the club and was a good eighth.
The Essex selectors will have a headache however as many of the club young athletes in contention may be competing for their Coopers’ school teams in the English Schools Cross Country Cup Final in Chesterfield on the same day (7th December) if they qualify from the Essex & Suffolk Regional Final on 9th November.
James Connor posted the fastest marathon time by a club runner since 1992 when he ran a fine 2 hours 22m 7 secs clocking at the Frankfurt Marathon on Sunday. This was also the second fastest ever by a club athlete and took James to within a minute of Paul Bettridge’s club record.
James set off at sub 2:18 pace and passed halfway in a fine 68:50 before dropping off the pace after 25km. A tight calf in the last 5km lost him further time but he held on to clock his fastest time since 2014, when he was a Kent AC member