(Junior report by Graham French)
The early stages of the cross country season continued with the first Met league race at Claybury. We had been missing some of our younger boys at the North West London League 3 weeks ago, but there was a stronger turnout of under 11s & under 13s, with spectacular results.
ESM’s race of the day was undoubtedly the under 11 boys, which saw a fast race over the hilly, grassy course. Our team of four athletes set off in the leading group & pressed hard all the way. By the final hill leading to the finish, Jack Hayward was close behind a rival from Victoria Park Harriers, and closing in on him. There was an exciting sprint finish and Jack was closely edged into 2nd place, a second behind the winner. Only a few seconds behind came Marcus Muers with a very strong finish in 3rd place. Jack Jones, the youngest in the team, running his first race for ESM, powered up the hill, gaining 2 places in the final metres to finish 4th. The team was completed by Ilakian Dhandapani, also running his first race for the club, with another strong finish in 15th. The team cemented first place out of 14 teams by a wide margin, & sit on top of the league.
The under 13 boys also fielded a strong team. Zach Van Der Graaf, also running his first race for the club, ran a powerful race, starting in a good position, and keeping it, to lead the team home in 12th place. Mika Stripp had another good race, to finish 18th. The rest of the team packed well, with Inian Dhandapani in 21st & Elliott Edgar 24th. The team were 4th out of 16 teams.
Our under 11 & under 13 girls’ squad is a work in progress at the moment. We have a number of very promising new members, & several of them will hopefully be match ready soon, & we can look forward to better numbers in future races. It was left to Leila Newth to fly the ESM flag for the younger girls in the under 13 race. Leila mainly trains with the sprint group but undoubtedly has an aptitude for distance as well. She ran a strong first lap, accelerating at the end of the lap, thinking that this was the finish. Realising she had another lap she soon adjusted her stride & pace & ran the second lap strongly to finish 25th, an excellent result for her first club cross country race..
We could only field 2 athletes in the under 15/under 17 boys race, due to a variety of circumstances, but under 15s Junias Lee & Henry Jones both did themselves & the club proud in their first race at this level, competing against seasoned under 17 athletes from other clubs. Junias maintained a good pace to finish 75th , with Henry not far behind in 84th in a large field. While it is fair to say that cross country is not Henry’s favourite event, he fully recognises its importance in maintaining & developing a strength & endurance base for next year’s track season.
ESM’s team in the under 15/17 girls’ race was dominated by our under 15s. Rosie & Nicola Hewitt were also running for the first time against under 17 athletes from other clubs, as were all our under 15s. Both maintained their form from the previous race, & ran strongly in the front half of the race, negotiating the infamous Claybury hill, a feature of the older age group, but not the younger, races. In the end Rosie had the advantage, finishing 27th, with Nicola some places behind in 38th. Next in was Zairah Newth, also on her ESM cross country debut, with a steady run finishing 55th . The scoring team was completed by Reha Siyani in 63rd . Isabella Dussaillant, & sister Anna (our only under 17 runner) came in 69th and 70th, with Diya Siyani, almost certainly the youngest in the race (since she qualifies for the combined u15/u17 age group by a mere 2 days !) in 73rd . The team finished 12th out of a total 21 teams ( including B teams).
For all our athletes, additional training over the next weeks & months will bring rewards. For some it is sharpening up the finish; for others it is more endurance , speed endurance or both – all of this is in prospect! With more improvement & new & returning athletes expected to strengthen our teams, the plan is that all the teams will progress up the league, & the under 11 boys, who will now be the ones the other teams aim to beat, maintain their position at the top of the pile.
ESM’s team standing in the Howard Williams junior trophy ( the combined scores of boys & girls, under 11 to under 17) is 8th out of 17 A teams .