Freezing, icy weather and frosty, hard terrain underfoot did nothing to deter scores of Cambridgeshire’s finest athletes from battling the conditions at St Neots on Sunday to fight for medals at the county cross country championships.
Nene Valley Harriers came away with one of the biggest medal hauls of all the teams competing, with three individual winners and ten other team or podium medal winners ensuring the relatively small club still punches well above its weight when it comes to the big stage.
Sam Hughes started the day’s proceedings by winning the U11 boys’ race, and leading his team home to a gold medal. Sam Oakley took an individual bronze medal, and also running well were Freddie House and Joe Garner in 13th and 14th place respectively, with support from team mates Cemal Korkmaz, Jacob Williams, Owen Park, Isaac Fell and Jack Jackson.
Not to be outdone by her male team mates, Flo Brill duly took the U11 girls’ race by a massive 38 second margin, with club mate Alicja Gawronski fighting hard for her 14th position.
Continuing the club’s excellent start to the championships, Amelia Monaghan took the gold medal in the U13 girls’ race, and, with strong support from Katie Tasker in 9th and Eden Oldfield in 17th, she also led them home to a silver team medal. Megan Williams was just one position behind Oldfield, proving the club’s strength in depth.
The U13 boys’ race saw Ben Roberts clinch the individual bronze medal, with Ben McCann and Matt Church never far behind in 11th and 14th positions respectively, helping the youngsters secure the silver team medal. Also running with determination were Sam Garner and Josh Goodwin.
Ellie Piccaver, Josephine Fortune and Imogen Woodward were the scoring trio for the U15 girls’ silver medal winning team, with Ollvar Ozkan and Chloe Squires putting all their energy into placing well in a competitive field.
Oliver Oakley was the top finisher for the Harriers in the U15 boys’ race in 12th place, with Mapecho Mukutuma less than a minute behind in 15th.
Relatively new to the club but already leading his new team home to a silver medal, Jevan Robertson excelled to finish fifth in the U17 boys race. Oliver Bowling placed just two positions behind, and, with strong runs also coming from Dan Corrigan, Jack Weddup and Ben Harding, the boys did well to hold off some very strong opposition from Cambridge clubs.
The U17 girls’ race saw Beth Goymour, Jasmine Oldfield, Elisha Reid and Annie Grey give their all for the club.
In the senior men’s event, following on from his excellent fifth place in the last Frostbite League race, Rhys Goddard finished first for the club once again when placing 16th against many more experienced cross country athletes, including Great Britain U20 international Kieran Wood from Cambridge & Coleridge, who clinched the bronze medal. Goddard was followed home by Rob Prady just one place behind, and coach and seasoned veteran, Sean Beard in 23rd. Sam Hunt was never far behind in 29th to help the men take the silver team medal.
Also relatively new to the club, U20 triathlete Kayleigh Adams led the Harriers home in the senior women’s race in an excellent 9th place, with fast-improving Sophie Wilkinson-Hargate and returning-to-form Nicky Morgan also having strong races to finish in 14th and 15th position respectively. Chloe Pavey, Louise Blake, Mel Tindale and Andrea Page also fought hard to help the team secure both a bronze senior medal as well as a silver veteran’s team medal.
The Harriers’ cross country team manager Russ Prosser said: ’It is worth mentioning that we are a split club taking on Cambridge and Lincoln in their respective counties, & doing very well indeed,’ referring to the fact that the club also did well at the Lincolnshire cross country championships on the same day.