English U17/U15 Combined Events Champs + UK Intercounties XC Champs

14 March 2022

Is there anything Jess Duncton can’t do? The U17W has won a string of English championship medals in the hurdles earning her the opportunity to compete for England last summer, but this weekend Duncton possibly topped all she had done before with an incredible English Championship gold in the pentathlon, proving she really can do it all!

Beginning the day with her main event, the hurdles, Duncton flew out the blocks, leaving her rivals far behind, running 8.62 to knock 0.03 off her own club record and moving her into the top 25 on the all time list. The performance made her the easier leader after event one. Event two was the high jump, despite not having competed in the event since last summer Duncton cleared just 3cm lower than her PB with a best off 1.53, 6th overall in the event. Next up was another event she hadn’t competed in this year, the shot put, incredibly she was able to produce her second longest throw ever, just a mere 1cm behind her PB with 10.30, giving her 8th overall in the shot. After having begun the day with a hurdles club record it was hard to believe the performance could be topped, but Duncton achieved it with an incredible performance in the long jump, leaping out to 5.18 for 4th in the event. The clearance was a huge PB, her first time surpassing 5m, it also beat the club indoor U17W, U20W and SW club records! Finally, came the dreaded 800m, with just a few points in it there was still much to play for. Duncton kept her calm like a seasoned professional running 2:40.86 to give her an overall score of 3367 which was her third club record of the day, beating the previous mark by close to 500 points. A phenomenal day's competition and a well deserved victory!

(Photo: Jess Duncton tops the podium at English Champs)

The following day it was the turn of U15B Oliver Belbeck to take on the pentathlon. Belbeck has produced a strong indoor season so far and rounded it off with Midland Championship gold and a brilliant 6th overall in the English Championships. The day began with a run of 9.56 in the 60m hurdles putting him in 4th place after the first event, a strong start, just 0.01 slower than his best. Belbeck added 10cm to his long jump PB with a best of 5.28 and 4th overall in the event, before adding a massive 21cm to his high jump best clearing 1.56 for 7th in the event. Next up Belbeck threw 9.70 in the shot put to once again place 4th in the event and rounded off the competition with 2:29.14 in the 800m. In just his first ever combined event competition, Belbeck scored a fantastic 2298. 


(Photo: All smiles from Oliver Belbeck with Midland Gold)

Over in Loughborough one of the biggest races of the cross country season was taking place, the Intercounties Cross Country Championships. Teams from each county across the UK gathered to create some of the most high quality races possible. 

After English Championship bronze two weeks ago it was no surprise to see Kiya Dee take the U17W race out hard, giving it everything she had and collapsing as she crossed the line. The strong run earned Dee 8th place and an amazing 3rd overall in the Cross Challenge League, the highest cross country league in the country. Dee was both the highest placed Harrier on the day and highest placed Gloucestershire athlete. Despite losing her shoe Ciara Thornley also ran well in the U17W race to finish 68th and Chloe Sheppard finished 204th. In the U17M race Rafferty Welch finished 173rd. 

(Photo: A well earned bronze for Kiya Dee in the Cross Challenge Series)

Kaitlyn Sheppard competed in the U20W race adopting a similar racing approach to Dee. Sheppard hit the front from the gun, and pushed the pace round the first lap. The gutsy performance earned Sheppard 10th place in her first year as an U20. In his first ever cross country season U20M Jamie Bell had a great race to finish in 73rd and Guy Green finished in 168th. 

Another Harrier who’s been in impressive form this year is U13G Maddie Thomson. The county champion and south west schools bronze medalist was making her first step up to national level competition. The Harrier appeared unphased by the scale of the event, coming in as first Gloucestershire athlete and an amazing 21st overall. In the same race there were also strong performances from Olivia Avery in 90th, Bluebell Heath-Smith in 131st and Evie Avery in 147th. In the U13B race Patrick Paul led the Gloucestershire team home in a brilliant 32nd place, backing up his superb performances so far this season. Jack Pennell was 136th, Tom Wightman was 145th, Harry Knight was 215th and Edward Atkins was 216th.

Three Harriers competed for Gloucestershire in the U15G race with Amelie Paul being the first of the 3 in 205th. Just behind in 229th was Ellis Woolley and Georgia Howell finished in 238th.  

Chris Wagstaff made his Gloucestershire debut in the SM race coming in 174th and Harrison Miles finished 273rd. In the SW race Petra Vymetalova came in 206th and Sarah Sheppard finished 244th.

(Photo: Chris Wagstaff and Harrison Miles after two brilliant performances)