Havering star O’Neill braves wind and rain to take England Schools medal

PUBLISHED: 12:30 22 March 2019

Kate O'Neill with her bronze medal at the England Schools' cross-country

Kate O'Neill with her bronze medal at the England Schools' cross-country


And there is a great result for the senior men at Essex Road Relays

Grant Twist crosses the line to win the Essex Road Relay ChampionshipsGrant Twist crosses the line to win the Essex Road Relay Championships

Havering athlete braved the rain and the wind to win a superb bronze medal at the English Schools’ Cross-Country Championships in Leeds on Saturday.

It was national runner-up and fellow Havering member Jess Mitchell who set the early pace in the senior girls’ race, but as she dropped back and out on the second lap, it was O’Neill who came to the fore.

In the later stages she stormed into the lead. However, a late charge from Inter-Counties under-17 winner India Pentland (Durham) and Berkshire’s Georgia Hayes edged Kate into the bronze.

Sophie Rand also brought her English Schools’ career to a close in 106th.

Natalie Sewell again made the top 20 with her 20th placed finish in the junior girls event, with Chloe Rand in 133rd, while Sydney Foley moved up to the Inter girls’ age group to finish 73rd.

Charlie Howell ran superbly in his English Schools’ debut with his 35th place finish in the junior boys’ race and Alex Ford was 121st in the Inter-Boys.

Sam Atkins led home the trio of club athletes with his 90th place in the senior boys’ race, and Tom Keevil (132nd) and Alex Friend in 205th completed the club’s eleven athlete line up.

There was more success at the Essex Senior Road Relay Championships on Sunday which took place on the windswept seaside at Harwich.

The A team of Ben Davis (15.58), Jamie Buckley-Stanton (16.35), Rob Warner (16.19) and Grant Twist (16.13) had a great tussle with the Colchester squad with the lead changing hands several times.

In fact it wasn’t until Warner handed the baton to Twist with a slight advantage that the win looked possible.

Twist ran a superb leg to lengthen the winning margin to over half a minute.

The B team of Paul Grange (16.26), Harry Jones (17.17), Louis Berrett (18.19) and James Stewart (16.59) was a mixture of experienced athletes and young talent.

They were the first B team home in a very good seventh place, while the C team of John Whitehead (17.37), Tony Collins (22.33) and Richard Rowe (20.45) were unfortunately incomplete.

The club had two teams in the Vet 40 event.

Barry Smith (17.31), Martin Chester (18.1) and Gavin Maley (18.35) finished just outside of the medals in fourth place.

While the team of Rob Trevor (17.42), Paul Berrett (22.13) and Alfie Waithaka (17.47) were an excellent eighth.

The squad also managed to put out two teams in the Vet 50 category, with the team of Tony Pecoraro (19.06), Matt Bland (17.52) and Steve Walker (20.09) taking the silver medal in their event.

Bland was also the fastest Vet 50 on the day.

The second team comprising of Darren Priestley (20.19), Russ Middleton (21.52) and Gary Robbins (25.50) finished in a good 13th place.

Retaining the county road relay trophy ensured a clean sweep of senior county titles to add to the earlier victories in the County cross-country relays, Essex League and Essex Championships as well as individual medals to bring to an end a great season.

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