Sensational silver girls are Havering’s biggest National Cross-Country stars

PUBLISHED: 11:00 02 March 2018

Havering under-17s won the silver medal at the National Cross Country Champs (left to right) Kate O'Neill, Molly Sweetman, Jess Mitchell and Sophie Rand

Havering under-17s won the silver medal at the National Cross Country Champs (left to right) Kate O'Neill, Molly Sweetman, Jess Mitchell and Sophie Rand


Havering’s successful winter on the mud continued in the most prestigious event of the season as they grabbed a medal at the National Cross-Country Championships on Saturday.

Mayi Hughes with her meadl at the England Age-group championshipsMayi Hughes with her meadl at the England Age-group championships

Parliament Hill Fields was the venue for the annual event, which attracts thousands of athletes from all over the country.

And Havering’s under-17 girls backed up their brilliant season by winning a silver medal.

South of England fourth-place finisher Kate O’Neill added to that with a superb ninth place on the day, celebrating her 17th birthday which had been the previous day.

Jess Mitchell made a late decision to run after recent ill health and an ankle injury and held on well for 33rd, while Molly Sweetman was 48th and Sophie Rand was 75th to complete the team.

That put them into second place, behind Liverpool, but well ahead of Guildford. Grace Dukelow (189th) completed the Havering line-up in the age group.

Ben Davis has also had a magnificent cross-country season and that continued on Saturday as he was eighth in the under-20 men’s race.

Davis stayed with the leaders throughout, putting in a strong finish on the 10k course, and was backed up by James Stewart in 128th and Kieran O’Hara in 215th, who both found conditions hard.

In the under-13 girls’ race there was another excellent Havering individual display as Natalie Sewell battled home in 12th place.

That was a big improvement on her 20th in the South of England race, while Chloe Rand was 38th for her best at this level. Holly Bradley was 309th and Isobelle O’Connor 313th as the team finished in 25th.

Ruby Lendon and Charlotte Grundy also gained some national experience.

The senior men had a scoring six for the first time in many years, led home by Rob Warner in 211th, with over 2000 runners trailing in his wake on the 12k course.

Paul Grange was next for Havering, but frustratingly his chip failed to register and so Matt Bland was officially next home in 729th, followed by John Whitehead in 954th.

Matin Chester was 1,135th, while Gary Atkins was 1,297th and Graham Hogan 1,354th to complete the scorers as Havering settled for 85th place out of the 162 teams taking part on the day.

Steve Walker and Roy James completed the line-up.

The women also managed a scoring team led by Ginte Bailey in 151st with Robyn Matson crossing the line in 349th.

Clare Davies was 448th and Clare Rugeley completed the quartet as they finished 58th of the 112 teams who finished, an excellent result on the day.

In the younger age groups, the under-15 boys were the only ones with a full team as Alex Ford led the way in 179th, backed up by Henry Lay (440th), Lenny Houston (454th) and Timi McDaniel (482nd).

The under-13 boys were one man short, with Shane Hart in 229th, Callum Basinger 318th, and Alex Kerr in 411th.

Alice Atkins and Rebecca O’Rourke ran in the under-15 girls’ race.

Meanwhile, Havering athletes were also in action indoors at the weekend with more success.

Mayi Hughes added to her medal collection with a bronze medal in the under-20 triple jump at the England Indoor Age Group Championships in Sheffield.

An indoor PB of 11.79 metres brought her a third national medal since July as she continues her superb improvement.

There were sixth places at under-15 level for Matthew Blacklock in the 800m and Toby Bishop in the sprint hurdles.

Ruby Mace went out in the semis of the under-15 hurdles, while fellow hurdlers Jacob Blanc and Paige Robinson gained some great experience.

Eliza Bonning completed the Havering line-up in the under-17 sprint hurdles.

In the United States, Zoe Hughes continued her education and improved her athletic ability along the way as she returned from injury to better her club shot record on the way to second place in the Ivy League Pentathlon Championships, representing Harvard University.

A 12.47m mark at the event added a single centimetre to her best, while a season’s best 60m hurdles of 8.81 seconds, a long jump of 5.74m, a 1.61m high jump and 800m run of 2.23.71 combined for an excellent score of 3952 points.

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