English Schools XC Championships

In the final national cross-country event of the season, local students from across the West Sussex area played a major part in giving Sussex one of its best all-round team performances in recent years. The organisers of the English Schools Championships at Leeds also deserve credit for allowing the event to go ahead on 18th March with bitterly cold winds and snow forecast for the North of England. In an event to rival the National clubs and inter-counties championships, athletes from 45 counties and areas sent teams to Leeds ensuring that the quality of the races was second to none.


There were two team medals for Sussex, one of which was in the Senior Boys race where Will Broom from Bishop Luffa ran the race of his life to lead the county home in a superb 20th place, the second best placing of any Sussex athlete on the day. He was followed by another 4 team mates in the top 80, one of whom was fellow schoolmate Leo Stallard in an impressive 67th, giving the county a scoring 6 total of 312 points, behind winners North Yorkshire and a handful of points behind arch rivals Hampshire in 2nd but crucially over 20 in front of pre-race favourites Surrey to clinch the bronze medals.  In the same race, Bishop Luffa’s Ben Morton was 8th scorer for Sussex in 190th position.


There was another Chichester athlete leading Sussex home in the seniors’ girls race with Imogen Matthews, having shaken off her recent injury, storming through the field to finish 68th. Making it 5 out of 5 for the Luffa squad, Beth Brown was just outside the county scoring team in 291st place for 7th Sussex athlete home.


It was in the Intermediate Girls race where not one, but two local athletes crossed the line for the first two Sussex runners home with Olivia Macdonald from Seaford College in 28th just ahead of Olivia Wiseman from Bishop Luffa in 31st. These two spearheaded a great team performance to finish just behind winners Surrey on 321 points and London with 339. The Sussex total of 363 was well in front of 4th placed Hampshire on 428 to gain team bronze but it could have been better as another local athlete, Maggie King, has been showing such good form in recent weeks that she would have scored less than the 5th and 6th Sussex athletes to finish. Unfortunately for the selectors, Maggie’s form had come too late to force her way into the squad.


In the Intermediate Boys race Ned Potter was another to continue his fine form since the New Year with a 59th place and 3rd Sussex runner to finish. In the same race, Liam Dunne, another Chichester based athlete finished 127th for the Hampshire team as a pupil of Bohunt School. Liam ran well in his first year in the age group and just lost out as the 6th scoring member for Hampshire by the thickness of a vest, both athletes being given the same time.


There was just a single local athlete in the junior age groups with Ethan Ward from Felpham CC finishing 3rd scorer in the boy’s race for Sussex in 54th position and helping the county to a top 10 team place. The junior girls race saw the best individual placing for Sussex with Eastbourne based Bethany Cook in second place overall with Olivia Toms not being able to take her place in the squad through injury.


At the end of an exhausting day, joint Team Manager Tim Brown from Bishop Luffa was delighted with the performance of the whole Sussex squad who finished with an aggregate total to put them overall 7th out of the nearly 50 teams contesting the event, a result which keeps them in the top Division for another year.