There were record fields at the second fixture of the Met League cross country league at Stevenage on Saturday. Despite this, we held our ground, with the seniors moving up a place to seventh overall of the 21 clubs, and the juniors maintaining their sixth place out of 14.
The combined U15/U17 men’s squad produced our best finish of the day, in fifth, leaving them third in the League. For the U17s, Mukhtar Farah led the pack in the early stages. He couldn’t hold his ground, but still led the team home in13th, while Charlie Sillett ran a more consistent pace to cross the line in 16th. Romario Hines-McLeod was 60th and Ali Malik 64th. However, U15 George Kerry was once again a key player in the combined team result, finishing 18th overall and fourth in the U15 race. He was joined by U15s Luke Adar who ran well to place 17th, and William Coutts (22nd). 13 year old Naoki Kanai (27th) also ran well.
In the combined U15/U17 girls’ race, the club fielded two full teams. The A squad, who were largely U15, finished a creditable sixth. There was great consistency over the first fixture, with Nicola Ravenhill enjoying another top 10 finish and Laura Stewart again placed 22nd. Maryam Hussain (32nd) added strength with a competitive run, while Cameron Thomas completed the A team (41st). After taking a season out, U17 Martha Hayward (42nd) made a good return to competition closing just behind Cameron. Roisin Lynch’s 48th place showed consistency with her fixture 1 effort, while Jennifer Connelly (53rd) and Leah Kelly (59th) completed the line-up.
The U13 girls’ squad placed seventh, despite lacking a fourth runner to complete the team. Lucy O’Brien (4th) finished a few places higher than last time, as did Anisa Ibrahim (18th). Sarah Freegard (44th) was third and final scorer. Conversely, the club was represented this time in the U13 Boys with a full team which finished 13th. New members Ilyes Iman (35th) and Mahiis Hershi (41st) were first to show, followed by Mikey Kouwiloyan (58th) and Kirk Lebdiri (59th).
The senior women fielded a team which was both larger and stronger than at the first fixture. They finished seventh overall, lifting them out of the relegation zone. Another consistent run from Fiona Kennedy led them home in 46th, followed in rapid succession by Kat Mertens (48th), Sarah Richardson (56th) and Nikki Shelley (58th). Veterans Christine Meek (100th) and Carol Jones (112th) completed the scoring team, and also contributed to the club’s second place in the veteran ranking. Patricia Thomas (149th), Gill Morgan (153rd) and Julia Gristwood (165th) provided valued support.
There was also a better turnout from the senior men this time, with 22 runners, but the team could still only finish ninth, and remains in the relegation zone of Division 1. A determined Jamie Taylor-Caldwell started in the top 20, lost a few places as the race progressed but finished a highly respectable 26th in the 400+ field. Ben Waterman continued to show great improvement as a cross country runner, finishing much higher up the field (35th) and just 20 seconds behind Jamie. Chris Hepworth (59th) put in another strong run but Mo Hashi (48th) found an extra gear to finish half a minute ahead of him this time. Luke Nicholas made his cross country debut of the season with a fine run just outside the top 100 (108th). Triathletes Pete Flewitt (122nd) and James Hughes (136th) proved valuable additions to the team, as did Tom Yates (203rd) and Joe Gilbert (206th), both on their first cross country outing of the autumn. The scoring team was completed by James Steel (219th), a promising run from Akira Anzai-Jackson (234th) and the return of Rob Brown (259th). Martin Shelley looked on his way back from recent injury (272nd), but Florjan Bakalli (311th) struggled having been unwell mid-week. With such a large field, Steve Plested (345th) and Darren Halford (368th) placed lower than at fixture 1, despite solid performances. It was good to see James O’Neill (356th), Eamon Bradley (371st), Keith Freegard (396th) Phil York (400th), Andy Leung (407th) and John Falvey (430th) clock up their first Met League of the season.
After the successful launch of an U11 development race at the first fixture, the mixed field of 94 youngsters represented a fifty percent increase. Five ESM boys took part: Dylan Rice (8th), Maxi Steel (30th), Rafferty Owen (41st), Masaki Kanai (49th), and Najiib Hershi (63rd).