English Schools Cross Country Championships 2022
23 March 2022
The final big cross country event of the year took place this weekend at Hop Farm in Kent. 100s of school children from all English counties gathered to race to become English Schools Cross Country Champion. It turned out to be one of the most successful editions of the Championship in a long time for the club with 14 athletes representing Gloucestershire and 6 making the top 100, 4 making the top 30 and 2 making the top 10.
The stand out performer of the day had to be Kaitlyn Sheppard who saved her best race for last this season. Despite a solid season with 21st place finish at English Championships and 10th at the Intercounties Championships the English U20 3000m track Champion was an outside chance for a medal with the winners of the previously mentioned events in attendance. Sheppard took being an underdog in her stride and pushed the pace from the start in her usual determined racing style. This time though the athletes dropped off one by one and Sheppard was able to keep the pressure on throughout, running superbly to take home a well deserved bronze medal in the Senior Women’s race (School years 12 + 13). Her first National Championship medal in cross country and putting her in the perfect position to kick on for a brilliant track season.
(Photo: Kaitlyn Sheppard on the podium)
Incredibly two Harriers finished in the top ten in the Senior race with Sheppard’s performance backed up by a fantastic run by Kiya Dee to finish in 8th. Dee ran a controlled race, holding back at the start and gradually working her way through the field to eventually finish only 14 seconds behind the medals. Ciara Thornley also had a great run with an 80th place finish. Both Dee and Thornley are only in their first year in the age group, with improvements possible next year. In the Senior boys race Jamie Bell ran well to finish in 121st.
Isaac Henderson has raced sparingly this cross country season, but showed he’s still in impressive form, completing possibly his best cross country race ever with a 40th place finish in the Inter boys (Schools years 10 + 11). 110 places higher than his previous best at the event. Raff Welch and Tom Gavin also ran well to finish in 184th and 274th respectively. Chloe Sheppard led the Inter girls team home in 155th place and Isobel Watt finished 238th.
Yet another athlete to save their best form for last this season was Sam Wilson. Wilson finished 5th at the South West Schools Championships in February but rose to the occasion at this first National Schools event to finish an impressive 17th in the Junior boys (Schools years 8 + 9) race. In the same race Luke Johnson finished 213th. The junior girls Gloucestershire team was led home by Maddie Thomson. Thomson was also making her English Schools Championship debut and ran brilliantly to end her season with a 24th place finish. Bluebell Heath-Smith and Evie Henderson finished 191st and 301st respectively.