ATHLETICS: Four cross country team titles for R&N

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Rugby & Northampton’s young athletes were in fine form again as the West Midlands Young Athletes Cross Country League reached its conclusion last weekend, with the club claiming four team titles.

However, following seven consecutive series wins, R&N were made to settle for second place overall after being pipped to the post by the hosts of the fifth and final round, Wolverhampton & Bilston AC.

The two clubs had been going head-to-head throughout the five-round competition and were both comfortably clear of the chasing pack, with R&N dominating the Under-11 category with victory for both the boys and girls, while the male youngsters also claimed the honours in the Under-13 and Under-17 age groups.

In the U17 series, Adam Searle won his age category for the fourth successive year, winning his fourth race of the series to earn himself a maximum score. Searle had previously won the U13 category and two U15 titles before this year’s success, making him the first ever R&N athlete to take the U17M crown.

Searle led home the pack in 16:50, and was followed by Matthew Chronicle (third – 17:10) and Joe Musgrove (fourth – 17:27) who secured respective sixth and third-placed finishes in the overall series.

Louis Buttrick, Noah Bennett and Aidan O’Brien secured fourth, sixth and seventh overall after guiding the successful U13 group to another team victory, with debutants Finlay Ward (12th – 9:19) and Ben Willison (16th – 9:24) rounding off the scoring.

Buttrick sealed fifth on the day with a time of 8:56, while O’Brien and Bennett took eighth and ninth – crossing the line neck and neck in 8:58 – to cap a fine series for the trio.

The club made it seven U11 boys titles in eight seasons, with Arthur Tilt securing second place on the day and in the series, finishing in 5:38.

Luke Turner secured seventh in 5:55, which helped him to fifth overall, while Jenson Buttrick (12th – 5:59), Logan Wooldridge (23rd – 6:12) and Nicholas Marsh (29th – 6:20) contributed to another team triumph.

The U11 girls’ title was retained despite finishing as runners-up on the day, with Alice Bennett (6:25) claiming a series’ finish of fifth after coming home in seventh spot. Olivia Willison’s impressive breakthrough season saw her place 12th in 6:34 to take eighth overall, with the scoring completed by Lara Turner (6:35), Caitlin Reeves (6:36) and Amelia Cebak (6:37) who finished 14th, 15th and 16th.

There was more individual success, with Adam Caulfield taking the U15B title. His second-placed finish on the day, in a time of 11:05, saw him ahead of the rest thanks to three wins prior to his latest run, and it’s another honour for the youngster after he was named U13 champion in 2014/15.

Cian Hutton (11th – 11:51), Ben Hope (14th – 12:01), Tobias Heayns (36th – 12:46) and Matthew Blomley (37th – 12:47) rounded off the team effort, which helped the club to third on the day and overall.

For the U15 girls, a strong season saw them finish as runners-up in the series following another second-placed team effort. Molly Williams was fourth around the course in 13:02, which saw her complete the season in third overall, while Isabelle Ripon was the next club athlete over the line, arriving 11th in 13:19.

The rest of the scoring five consisted of Georgina Woodward (13th – 13:21), Holly Walker (14th – 13:22) and Abigail Pearce (18th – 13:27).

Claudia Searle led home the U15 girls who grabbed third overall, after a fourth-placed team finish in the final round. Searle was fifth both on the day and in the series with a time of 9:31.

Olivia Williams (19th – 10:00), Alice Bates (25th – 10:12), Elspeth Unitt (46th – 10:46) and Abigail Thayanithy (59th – 10:58) were the other contributors to the team effort.

A tough season for the U17 girls came to an end with the consistent Amy Walker taking seventh in 16:32 for a final series standing of sixth. Hollie Moore (25th) and Olivia Sheehan (34th) wrapped things up, with respective times of 18:07 and 18:50.