Chichester runners shine at schools championships

Action from the schools cross-country at Waterhall in January / Picture by Sara Ellis
Action from the schools cross-country at Waterhall in January / Picture by Sara Ellis
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Ten students from local schools and colleges helped Sussex to 15th place out of the 44 English counties competing in the English Schools Cross Country Championships at Nottingham.

More than 2,000 of the best junior cross-country runners in the country lined up in junior, intermediate and senior age groups.

The event was the culmination of a series of selection races which started at Bishop Luffa school with the West Sussex West Championships and culminated in the Sussex schools event at Waterhall near Brighton.

The event was the culmination of a series of selection races which started at Bishop Luffa school with the West Sussex West Championships and culminated in the Sussex schools event at Waterhall near Brighton.

In the intermediate boys’ race half the eight-strong Sussex team was from the Chichester area. County champion Ben Collins from Chichester High School was first Sussex runner to finish, in 77th, one place in front of Ben Martin from Lewes.

Such is the standard of the event that just a few seconds can separate runners finishing up to 100 places apart. Collins was just 30 seconds behind the athlete in tenth place.

Will Broom from Bishop Luffa was 142nd, 65 places but just 30 seconds behind Collins. Just over a minute back, fellow Bishop Luffa students Leo Stallard in 290th and Ben Morton in 292nd also scored in the top six for Sussex .

Chichester’s under-17 and under-20 girls have had a fine season in club competition and three of them joined forces for the Sussex senior girls’ team and were three of the first four Sussex runners home to help their team to an excellent 14th place.

Just beaten by Louise Nash from Hastings, Rose Ellis from Chichester College was next home for Sussex in 94th, closely followed by Karina Bennett from Bishop Luffa in 107th, the Sussex under-17 club champion.

Charlotte Reading from Seaford College was 124th, just 17 seconds separated the three Chichester-based girls.

In the junior girls’ race, county schools champion Olivia Macdonald from Seaford College was unlucky to be tripped at the start but bravely got up to finish 107th.

Charlotte Bullard from Chichester High School was sixth Sussex athlete home in 207th but just under a minute separated her from the top 40. Grace Wills, another Bishop Luffa athlete, just failed to make the Sussex scoring six by finishing 199th in the intermediate girls’ race.

Inter-County Cross-Country Championships

Because of a shortened half-term because of a very early Easter date this year, the third of the three major championships will be run this Saturday in Birmingham with many of the top runners representing their county club teams.

The age groups for this event are slightly different from the school structure so Ben Collins, Will Broom and Leo Stallard will all be lining up in the under-15 age group where they have been dominant all season.

With other clubs also fielding quality athletes, this age group may represent the best chance of a Sussex high team placing among the 48 teams from across the UK.

Likewise Karina Bennett will be on more familiar territory in the under-17 age group with Rose Ellis and Charlotte Reading competing for the under-20s who also have hopes of a good team placing.

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