Sussex selectors sit up and take notice at schools’ cross-country

There were notable achievements by young local athletes in the West Sussex West cross-country championships over the testing Lancing Manor course.

Not only were there individual and team medals at stake but places in the Sussex teams for the English schools championships to be held at Taunton in March.

Harry Leleu from Seaford College had the best finishing position with a fine second place in the intermediate boys’ race, losing out to the same Brighton Phoenix runner who took gold in the Sussex club championships two weeks earlier.

Next home was Josh James from Chichester High School in fifth. He was just one place away from automatic selection for the Sussex team but is certain to be considered by the selectors.

Luke McWilton from Bishop Luffa was 13th, two places in front of Dan Eeles from Midhurst Rother with George Dempster from Bishop Luffa also making the top 20. Jamie Woolnough from CHSB finished 33rd while Ashley Thompson was the third Bishop Luffa pupil to finish, in 41st.

Only the absence of a fourth runner prevented Bishop Luffa from gaining a team medal.

In the junior boys’ race Casey Keates from Felpham CC led local athletes home in fifth, just two places in front of Ed Gerwat from Bishop Luffa - with both boys now in with a chance of making the Sussex team.

Sam Pink from Midhurst was 22nd, closely followed by Ewan Willis from Felpham in 27th and Zac Hurst from Bishop Luffa, 29th.

After Harry Pink in 40th came a trio of Bishop Luffa runners – Tom Ellis in 47th, Harry Salt 52nd and James Amos 57th, giving the school a close fifth place in the team standings.

There were two further Bishop Luffa athletes in the senior boys’ race with Callum Adams coming in 18th and Conrad Meagher 24th.

There were similarly-excellent performances from the girls with Georgina Warner the best finisher in fifth place in the intermediate age group. Emma Maynard from Bishop Luffa was ninth followed by Nicola Mead in tenth for Chichester High School and team-mate Lucy Ellis 13th.

Only the absence of a fourth scorer prevented the CHSG from coming away with team gold.

There were no fewer than 11 local runners in the junior girls’ race with High School pairing Charlotte Reading and Rose Ellis seventh and ninth.

In 11th was Saskia Gardam from Bishop Luffa, an especially good run for an athlete from the younger year in the age group. Tara Bage from Seaford College was 17th with Holly Beaton from Bourne not far behind in 22nd.

There followed a battle for team honours with Bishop Luffa showing good packing from Molly Whatmore in 31st, Sophie Shergold 36th, Lucy Moore 39th and Amber Westron 41st.

With two runners already home in the top ten, Chichester High School had Mia Faulkner in 49th and Beth Rogers 58th. With four to score, Bishop Luffa just won the race for team bronze with 117 points, just in front of the High School.

PHIL BAKER