Junior Girls race into national cross country final

Pocklington School Junior Girls Cross Country team line up at the race start.t li

Photo: Members of the Junior Girls' Cross Country Team

The Junior Girls’ team of cross country runners has qualified for the national final of the English Schools’ Athletic Association (ESAA) Cross Country Cup after successfully battling wet and muddy conditions in the regional final.

Pocklington School’s Intermediate Girls’ team also showed spirit and determination on the arduous course, at South Hunsley School, Melton, to finish ninth in their category.

Robin Crewes, teacher i/c cross country, has written the following report:    

On Saturday 7th November the ESAA Cross Country East Midlands final took place at South Hunsley School.  Our Junior and Intermediate teams had qualified after a hard-fought race held at Pocklington last month.

The heavy rain leading up to the event and the morning fog making it difficult to even find the course, meant this wasn't going to be a straightforward race for our teams. It became apparent as we walked the course just how challenging it would be, with the ground very soft - especially on the up and downhill sections.

The final included the best teams from North Lincolnshire, Nottinghamshire, Leicestershire, North East Derbyshire and Yorkshire and it was testament to our Junior Girls’ performance in the last race that they were drawn in Pen 1 as the top performing team.

However, this was a step up in standard for all of our athletes which was clear as soon as the 66 Junior Girls got the event underway with a fast and competitive race to the first corner.  Niamh Clements made a trademark move early on and led the race for the first 300 meters but struggled to sustain the pace in her usual manner and fell back as the competitors headed to the tough incline section of the course.

Laura Brooks, meanwhile, was running a well-paced race and was making steady progress through the field. Imogen Stevens was concentrating on her own race and was not put off by the fast start. The energy-sapping muddy uphill and slippery downhill sections caused all the runners difficulty but the fitness of Isabelle Sweeting and Sophie Brosenitz shone through as they started to make progress through the field. Ellie Quick found the conditions a real challenge but despite this made every effort to keep up.

Laura finished strongly in 6th, completing the 2200m course in 9 mins. Niamh hung on despite feeling out of sorts and finished 8th 10 seconds behind Laura. Imogen Stevens gave everything to finish 27th in 9:57, Sophie finished 40th, closely followed by Isabelle in 45th.  Ellie showed true resilience to finish the race and record points for the team despite her finding much of the course arduous.

Members of the Intermediate Girls Cross Country team stood in uniform at the front of Pocklington SchoolThe third race was the Intermediate Girls and by this time the course resembled a tough, even muddier challenge.  The incline, although not steep, was causing all athletes to slow as they struggled to find traction and any rhythm.  Erin Redfern, who is proving a valuable addition to the team, led them out. Emma Forsyth ran strongly but could not find her rhythm and the conditions affected her usual ability to come through the field.  Daisy Shepherd ran a well-paced race, as did Pippa Byron, Kitty Webber and Carmen Brooks.

However, the energy-sapping mud really took its toll and although the entire team gave everything, they could not make an impact on the race.  Erin finished in 32nd place, which was fabulous considering she only had one shoe as she crossed the line.  Emma finished 41st unable to find her usual cadence.  Daisy was 45th, Pippa 48th and Kitty came in close behind at 49th.  Carmen crossed the line in 52nd covered in a mixture of blood and mud in another demonstration of determined resilience.     

There was a few hours’ wait for the results as all the races had been close and, with a place in the national final at stake for the top three teams, there was no room for error.  The Intermediate Girls finished 9th overall but should be proud of their effort in the race and in getting to the regional final in the first place.  The Junior team finished second, qualifying as runners-up for the national final in Derbyshire on the 7th December.  To put this in context they are now one of only 27 teams left in the competition from the 530 schools who entered the Cup this year.  This is a fantastic achievement for this talented team of athletes.      

Photo: Members of the Intermediate Girls' Cross Country Team