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Aldershot, Farnham and District AC

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National Cross Country Relays

Mike Neighbour

Aldershot, Farnham & District’s under-13 boys took the gold and silver medals at the English cross country relays on Saturday but it was the club’s B team runner, Bailey Roberts, who  set off on the anchor leg in the lead.  His side had always been in the frame, thanks to Ed Henderson, third on the first leg, and Alfie Spear.  The A team, never much more than twenty seconds off the front with Sam Bodoano and Harry Hide, became the biggest threat when Ryan Martin moved into second midway through the two kilometre lap in Mansfield’s Berry Hill Park. He was unable to progress any further and Roberts reached the finish six seconds before his club mate.

The club was first and fourth in the junior women’s event.  The A team’s Amy Griffiths was second to Harriet Knowles-Jones on the opener but Daisy D’Santos immediately found herself in the lead for AFD because there was nobody to take over from the Warrington athlete.  She handed a lead of 39 seconds to Grace Baker which the latter increased to 53 at the finish.  The B team of Gabi Eglen. Katie Shiel-Rankin and Rebecca Howard was another 35 seconds back and 24 off the medals.
Ten minutes later the club had another victory.  The u17 women’s race had started shortly after the first changeover for the leaders in the juniors’.  At the first changeover for the younger age-group, Eugenie Cockle was fourteenth for AFD, less than half a minute down on the lead.  Lucy Pygott put them into third but Niamh Brown commenced her anchor leg eight seconds behind Katy-Ann McDonald of Blackheath & Bromley Harriers, one of only two athletes quicker than her at the national road relays earlier in the month.  AFD’s anchorwoman was still third well into the 2.5 kilometre circuit before attacking so strongly that she crossed the line twelve seconds ahead of McDonald.
AFD gained two sets of bronze medals.  Bryony Proctor was fifteenth on the first leg of the senior women’s event, where the field was led home by Stockport’s Elle Vernon, the North of England champion.  Steph Twell then carved her way through to fourth and was faster than all except the leading five performers on the shorter first leg.  Louise Small took over for the anchor and passed City of Stoke’s Lucy Hayes, who had started nine seconds before her, but at the front Rachael Bamford, for Leeds City, and Beth Potter (Shaftesbury Barnet Harriers), who was fifth in the 10000 metres at this year’s Commonwealth Games, had set off together another five seconds earlier.  Their duel, which Bamford won by a couple of seconds, kept them clear of their AFD pursuer who halved the deficit.she had at the beginning of the three-kilometre course.
Following legs by Matt Arnold and Jack Rowe, AFD were sixth at the final changeover of the junior men’s contest.  Gus Cockle moved up to third where he found himself chasing two other athletes who have represented Great Britain at European championship level, Chris Olley of Tonbridge and Matt Shirling of Liverpool Harriers.  It was the former who prevailed for the gold medals.  AFD’s team of Robbie Coupland, Jack Boswell and Jake Cvetkovic finished fourteen seconds outside the medals when fourth in the u17 men’s competition.