ATHLETICS: Rugby & Northampton show strength in depth in title success

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Rugby & Northampton recently retained their West Midlands Young Athletes Cross Country League title, producing a typically strong display in Birmingham to claim the honours for a seventh year and further extend a remarkable unbeaten run in the competition.

The club were missing some of their top athletes at the event due to a clash with the London mini-Marathon trials, but emphasised their strength in depth with another winning performance around the Perry Park course. All the athletes stepped up to ensure a narrow 61-point victory over nearest rivals Wolverhampton & Bilston, maintaining a triumphant run that now stretches back over four years.

There were four team victories on the day with both under-11 groups taking the honours, in addition to wins for the U13 girls and U15 boys. Elspeth Unitt recorded a best-ever finish, crossing the line second in six minutes and 43 seconds, and she was joined by Olivia Williams (seventh – 6:52), Anna Farrow (10th – 7:00), Alice Bennett (16th – 7:06) and Ruby White (35th – 7:27) for the successful U11s.

Louis Buttrick (6:02) and Henry Woodward (6:09) earned third and fifth in the U11B success, and were followed home by Lewis Gurney (12th – 6:30), Arthur Tilt (14th – 6:34) and Finlay Heard (15th – 6:37). There was another PB, this time for Holly Walker, in the U13G triumph. Walker finished third in 10:18 and was well supported by Neve Satchwell (sixth – 10:26), Claudia Searle (eighth – 10:39), Amelia McMurtrie (12th – 10:43) and Elysia Lay (19th – 10:57).

For the U15B, Adam Caulfield (second – 11:09), Joe Musgrove (third – 11:22) and Matthew Chronicle (sixth – 11:37) all starred, and they were ably backed up by Jack Carey and Ben Cooper, both of whom registered times of 12:17 to finish 20th and 21st respectively.

Elsewhere, Noah Bennett dashed around the course in 9:35 to finish a fantastic third for the U13B, as the team grabbed second place on the day, while the U15G took team third – Georgina Woodward the first home for R&N in 13:24, securing 10th position. Josh Lay excelled once again for the U17M, securing second place with an excellent time of 16:50 as the team earned fourth spot on the day.

In the series overall, the boys and girls in both the U11 and U15 age groups finished in first place, with U15 athletes Adam Searle and Amy Walker coming out on top to take individual honours over the five races. Adam Caulfield (third) and Joe Musgrove (fourth) shone alongside Searle as R&N dominated the U15M category.

Plenty more of the club’s youngsters secured top-10 placings too, with Louis Buttrick (third), Henry Woodward (fifth) and Lewis Gurney (10th) starring for the U11B, and Olivia Williams (fourth) and Anna Farrow (10th) for the U11 girls. Noah Bennett finished seventh overall in the U13 – as the team took second – while Neve Satchwell (fourth) and Holly Walker (seventh) were strong throughout for the U13G, who also finished as runners-up. Josh Lay was second in the series for the U17M, who finished third overall, while the U17W were sixth in the standings – Emer Wintsch (fourth) impressing throughout.