Heath heads first fixture field.
At the first of the Shropshire Star sponsored cross country league meetings, held at Adams Grammar School in Newport, 150 young runners competed in flat and fast conditions on a bright afternoon.
In the first race, the Under 15 and Under 17 boys started together, but it was the older athletes who set the pace. Russell Adams of Ludlow Runners led the first lap but at just over half way on the three lap race, Ryan Heath of Telford started to pull away. The title holder from last year Guy Gregory went with him but couldn’t hold on to the fast pace. Ryan ran easily to win in 16 mins 08 secs, fifteen seconds in front of Guy with Telford’s Haydn Gleave finishing strongly and just overtaking Adams in the finishing straight. Telford beat Ludlow by just 3 points and the team positions should be close over the next three fixtures.
The Under 15 race was settled on the second and final lap when 1000m from the finish, last year’s champion Ben Ashcroft increased his pace and left the rest behind. He was followed in by fellow Shrewsbury team mate, midland Triple Jump champion, George Speakman who showed what a versatile athlete he is. The Shrewsbury AC club completed their team with Ryan Cullen making his debut in the league in 7th place. Telford athletes came in 3rd, 4th and, with the Midlands 800m champion Josh Burrows coming in 5th, this team competition also looks close.
Harriet Grandfield now a sixth former at Adams Grammar, and so running on home ground, led home the Under 17 girls. Harriet has won at every age group in this league and wants to finish with a win. She finished the 4000m course in 14 mins 2 secs with fellow Telford team mate Jessica Bailey coming in 25 seconds behind. Harriet’s sister Emily completed the Telford team in 6th place and they look set to dominate at this age group.
Another Telford runner who may be hard to beat this year is Isobel Bradley in the Under 15 Girls race. Isobel had an excellent cross country season last year and so far is showing the same pace this year. She in undefeated in both school and club competitions this year and won from a fast finishing Alex Cawthra form Maldwyn Harriers, with Georgia Potts of Bridgnorth in third. Telford won the team but Shrewsbury Girls High School look good in second place. The races over all four meeting will count towards the team championship.
The younger runners race over shorter distances and will always set off at a fast pace. The two Maldwyn athletes slowed the least in the Under 11 boys with Will Evans just beating his Maldwyn Harrier club mate Joseph Crytchley by 3 seconds. Cameron Van Onselen, from Oswestry Olympians, was just another 5 seconds behind in third. The team competition looks too close to call at this stage with seven clubs still in close contention.
The 22 starters in the Under 11 girls race also set off at a near sprint and the winner Eva Wade of Telford completed the mile course in 5 mins 47 secs. Molly Andrews of Bridgnorth also just ducked under the 6 minute barrier in second with Megan Davies third.
The Under 13 girls had to run 2000m and in a very close race Kitty Peel of Moreton Hall school used her sprint finish to good advantage to beat Chloe Evans of Maldwyn Harriers in a time of 6 mins 27 seconds. The battle for the minor medals will be very close with the finish officials finding it hard to separate Fion Sweeney of Telford and Passy Goddard of Shrewsbury High. They were both given the same time but Fion took third place.
In the Under 13 boys Telford runner Alex Burrows looks difficult to beat. He ran away form the high class field to win in 11 mins 11 secs over 20 seconds ahead of second placed Aiden Wade. Telford made it a clean sweep in this age group with David Stephens third.
The next races will be held on October 17th over another fast course at Oswestry. This course is hillier and the local Oswestry Olympians have a reputation for doing well on their home turf.