Stellar first XC outing of the season for Middle Distance squad

Report by Jonathan Edwards, Middle Distance squad team manager / assistant coach

An unseasonably warm Saturday saw the curtain rise on the 2017/18 cross country season with the first of five North West London League matches, held at Berkeley Fields, Greenford. This league has been a fixture in the XC calendar for some 52 years and has featured athletes that went on to star for Great Britain at the highest levels. This first event has always enabled our athletes to transition perfectly from track to grass. It was a pleasure to be managing on Saturday with so many of the Club’s athletes in attendance, supporting each other during warm ups and as they ran their events. It was noticeable how all the U15 boys found extra energy as the U15 girls cheered them on loudly with about 50 metres to go. Not one of them lost a place !

On a more serious note, it really brought home how successful the Club can be if we get numbers to these events. So please athletes/parents make every effort to replicate the positivity we saw on Saturday.

There were some really great competition debuts from Imogen Crowther (U13G), Charlotte Hilton (U13G), Rafael Armstrong (U13B), Tom O’Reilly (U15B), Olivia Hill (U15G) and Angus Saunders (U17B) who can all be proud of their achievements. With commitment to training and determination all will see their race results improve as the season unfolds.

Kristian Imroth, last year’s U15 National Champion, did not disappoint winning the U17 Men’s event, although he later confided that had he known the manager had metaphorically “put his mortgage” on him to win, he would have come second!  George Dowding, a very exciting 400m/800m prospect, also ran really strongly in this event finishing 12th while Angus Saunders was 15th and Haydn Williams was 22nd, helping the boys to third place in the team standings.

The U15 boys (pictured above, from left: Sam, Jamie, Tom O, Freddie, Michael and Tom A) are looking very strong this year and were well represented. Michael Armstrong stood out with his fourth-place finish, followed closely by Freddie Truman-Williams in sixth and the ever-improving Sam Burnell who just seems to go from strength to strength, in ninth. He is a fine example of just what can be achieved by hard work, determination and belief. These three were very ably supported by Jamie Bailey (16th), an ever-present, hampered by a calf injury pick up in the race, Thomas Ashton (18th), who has only just come off the track and will start to shine once he gets a few more long runs in his legs, and Tom O’Reilly (26th), in his first race for the club. As a team, the U15 boys were utterly dominant, finishing first, well ahead of the second-placed team. 

The U15 girls were led by Amy Cassidy (7th), who is starting to show signs of a return to the form she showed during last winter’s XC season. She was well supported by Jessica Hoar (13th), whose confidence grows with every race; Lily Boden (14th), who had a difficult injury plagued summer; Jess Beneviste (16th), Olivia Hill (19th) and Izzy Painter 20th). More will come from this group as the season progresses. The U15 girls A team finished a creditable fourth in the team standings, with the B team not far behind in sixth.

There was a great tussle in the U13 boys between Olly Painter (11th) who just got the better of Tim Fryer (12th) in the run in. Niall Cassidy ran his best race finishing a very creditable 28th, while Rafael Armstrong made a promising start to his cross country career, crossing the line in 37th of out 61 boys. The boys ran with great confidence given they competed in the same event as the U15 girls, and, in the case of Olly and Niall, against their sisters!  

Last but not least, the U13 girls were led by Olivia Edwards who ran a solid first race of the season to take third place. Like Thomas Ashton, she has only just hung up her track spikes so needs to build her XC endurance base. Stella Whitlum ended the track season with some strong performances and took that form in to Saturday where she finished fourth. She appeared to pass at least six runners in the last 50m’s and is showing great determination. Stella could do very well this winter if she just believes in her ability. Charlotte Hilton (19th) and Imogen Crowther (38th) helped to push the U13 girls team to a well-deserved third place.

Finally considerable thanks go to Head Coach, Mike Dunphy, whose attendance always brings the best out of the Club’s athletes, and to Rhys Rowlands and Sophie Morris, who gave up a large part of their day to support the younger athletes. Your input was invaluable.

Click here to see the official results.

Click here to see an updated schedule of all XC league and championship fixtures.

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About Catherine Davies

Catherine has been an active member of Dacorum & Tring AC Road Runners since 2007, and her three children have all passed through Mike Dunphy's Middle Distance squad.