There were several fine performances by the Sussex Young Athletes at the South of England Championships including gold and a silver medal and several Top 10 individual placings as well as some Top 10 team places.
They certainly had the best of the conditions at Stanmer Park and avoided the rains that affected the senior races and, of course, it was the early races that churned up the ground to make the terrain quite testing for the later races.
The Gold medal went, as was expected, to the talented Bethany Cook (Bodyworks) in the U15 girl’s race where she dominated the race putting well over half-minute between herself and Emily Shaw from Wimborne despite the fact it was only her first year in this age group.
Cook, who was the reigning U13 champion, seems to carry all before her whether it be the heavy mud of Bexhill Down, the firm conditions of the Downs at Goodwood or the undulating course at Stanmer Park.
Clocking 13:35s Cook was almost home and showered before Shaw crossed the finishing line to take the silver medal in 14:19s.
Maya Ramnarine from Hasting turned in an excellent run to finish 15th of the 215 finishers while Brighton & Hove’s Rebecca Losh and Lois Dooley also ran well for the 22nd and 40th place they led the Brighton & Hove team into a fine seventh of the 24 team places. Bodyworks finished 13th and Brighton Phoenix 19th.
The silver medal came in the U17 Women’s race where Almi Nerurkar (Brighton Phoenix) who like Cook had won gold in the Southern Inter-counties just before Christmas succumbed to Cornwall’s Grace Brock clocking 17:50s to the winner’s 17:14s but this was a pretty good effort for Nerurkar.
Sussex Schools champion Olivia McDonald, who lives in Surrey and runs for Guildford did well to finish 11th while Lizzie Clarke (Hastings) turned in a fine run to place 14th and Horsham’s Alex Richer was 19th.
Chichester was the only Sussex team to close in a team placing 8th.
The U17 Men’s race saw another fine run from Tom Eames (Brighton & Hove) to finish seventh of the 169 finishers while club mate Tomer Tarragano continued his fine form with probably his best run to date in tenth place. George Pool from Hastings filled 14th place, Leo Brewer (Phoenix) 21st, Will Broom (Chichester) 29th and Luke Burgess (Horsham) 30th.
In the team event the Brighton & Hove squad just missed medals by finishing in fourth place, the highest Sussex team placing of the Championships, with Chichester in fifth place and Brighton Phoenix 13th.
The Brighton & Hove runners all wore black arm bands in memory of fellow promising middle distance club mate Tom Clifford who died recently. Joe Clayson in 47th place and Sam Kane 87th completed team’s scoring four runners.
It was Chichester’s Liam Dunne who led the Sussex challenge in the U15 Boy’s race finishing an excellent fifth with Ashley Williams (Horsham) placing 19th, Brighton & Hove’s Tom Roberts 26th and Isaac Elam (Hasting) 30th.
Calum Stone led the Crawley team to a fine sixth place in the team event ahead of Brighton & Hove who placed seventh and tenth place for Hastings out of 26 teams and 232 individual finishers.
Jack Leitch (Worthing) was another near miss in the U20 men’s race finishing a fine fourth with Dan Stidder (Phoenix) placing 26th and Chichester’s Ben Morton in 43rd place but Sussex clubs could not produce a complete team in this age group. In the women's U20 race Ruby Whyte-Wilding (Lewes) was the leading Sussex runner placing 16th with Tia Forde (Crawely) placing 27th and Lauren Nichols (Chichester) 29th.
In the U13 events Eleanor Strevens (Eastbourne), who is only 11- years-old, had a cracking run to finish 12th in the girls race with Brighton & Hove’s Dulcie Yelling placing 22nd and Crawley’s Surrey twins Lauren and Charlotte Wormley placing 28th and 32nd. Freya Hinds (Lewes) placed 38th and Daisy Burton (Bodyworks) finished 39th while Crawley led the Sussex clubs home in 11th place with Brighton & Hove 14th and Chichester 19th.
Crawley’s Nicholas Hollan-Ellidge led the Sussex challenge in the boy’s race in 24th place just four places ahead of Henry Yelling (Brighton & Hove) with Chichester’s Joe McClarnon and Fioon O’Murcha in 52nd and 53rd place.
Brighton & Hove were the first Sussex team in 13th place, Chichester were 16th and Lewes 24th.
Sussex representation in the senior races missed many of the top Sussex runners but it was Tom Evans (Lewes) the county champion placed 12th led the Sussex runners runner although Sussex League Champion Jamie Knapp (Brighton & Hove), who runs first claim for Southampton, finished ninth following illness over Christmas.
Brighton & Hove’ James Turner and Will Cork finished inside the top fifty in 43rd and 47th respectively while Gary Foster (Hastings) filled 60th, Chichester’s Harry Leleu 61st, Jon Pepper (Phoenix) 66th, James Collins (Haywards Heath) 71st and Kevin Moore Brighton & Hove 75th.
Although runners were well down on the numbers that usually race when the championships are held at Parliament Hill there were still 720 finishers.
Brighton & Hove were the first Sussex team placing 14th of the 75 teams with Brighton Phoenix 24th and Chichester 27th.
Leah Harris (Worthing) did well to place 32nd in the senior women’s race with Stacey Clusker (Hastings) 37th and Caroline Hoyte (Arena 80) 41st.
Hastings was the first Sussex team in 20th place with Hailsham 29th and Brighton Phoenix 31st.