The boys were looking to defend their run of clean sweeps at this event going back for the last four years, in which we’ve won all three age categories of Junior (Third Form), Intermediate (Fourth and Fifth Form) and Senior (Sixth Form). This is a considerable achievement, as the standard of running is always high here.
The girls were able to field many more senior runners this year – nine, in fact – though were certainly light lower down, with only Francesca Harris (EDH) running in the Intermediate age group and no Junior runners at all.
In the Junior Boys, we had three runners up near the front who have had a tremendous season so far. Ben Weston (R), Will Singleton (R) and Archie Collings (Rb) set a terrific pace at the head of the field and managed to sustain it over the 4km course to place 2nd (14:05), 3rd (14:13) and 4th (14:22) respectively.
There was a bit of an anxious wait after that to see where our fourth counter would place to complete the team. William Yao (I) gained that honour in 33rd position (17:50), ahead of Damian Jelev (R) who placed 45th (19:06) and James Cropper (Ch) in 52nd (19:55). This was enough to secure the team trophy for a fifth year in a row, by over 30 points ahead of nearest rivals Haberdasher’s Adams.
In the Intermediate Girls, Francesca Harris (EDH) ran wonderfully well to claim the win over the same course distance in 14:58, well ahead of the nearest competitor. It was great to see her running so well again after a period of absence through injury. She seems to be returning to close to her best.
In the Intermediate Boys, we had greater strength in numbers, with 13 competing around their 5km course. Tom Jackson (R) set off brightly behind the favourite, Liam Rawlings of The Corbett School (who would go on to win his age group race for the fifth year in a row). Tom sensibly concentrated on his own pace and was able to claim the silver medal in a very quick time of 17:04.
Oscar Hamilton-Russell (R) ran a very well-judged race to earn the bronze in 17:22, having come through the field well in the second half.
Further back, Harrison Cutler (R) suggested he is returning to form again with a strong run in 18:28, while still at the lower end of this age-group’s range. An excellent run from Jonny Price (I) earned him 11th place (19:19), completing the team score of 22, winning the event by over sixty points.
There were some very good performances further down the field from Arthur Bramwell, Ed Forde-Johnston, Charlie Huntley, Will Owen, Ed Bayliss, Seb Vanhoonacker, Cosmo Waddell, Joe Rooney-McGee and Tom Allen.
In the Senior Girls’ race of 4km, Lillian Wilcox (EDH) ran strongly to claim fifth place in 16:43, ahead of Alessandra Ardissino (M) in 8th with 17:07 and Sophia Dixon (MSH) in 9th in 17:09, completing a three-person team score of 22. This placed us 3rd, behind winners Shrewsbury High with 13 and Wrekin College with 14.
There were also strong runs from Anna Cowan (MSH) in 13th, Felicity Hayward (EDH) in 14th and Laura Elliott (G) in 15th. Karina Ho (G), Sophia Bureau (G) and Morgan Smith (MSH) all made their Hunt debuts, earning their Hunt vests and performing very well, taking positions 18, 20 and 21 respectively.
Our Senior Boys team looked very strong indeed as they lined up on the start line of their 6km course. Many of them had formed the backbone of our bronze medal-winning Knole Cup team in mid-January, and were looking ahead to the King Henry VIII Relays on Wednesday, using this as a final speed session in preparation.
The competition was stiff though, and the early pace was set by Jack Pickett of North Shropshire College, with Sam Western (S) and Charlie Ockleston (O) sitting behind. After the first couple of kilometres, Jack managed to extend a lead ahead of our leading pair, and in the last lap Charlie made a move to which Sam didn’t respond. A fine run from Charlie saw him claim the silver medal in a time of 20:03, with Sam looking comfortable back in third, running 20:13.
A little further back, Rider Hartley (Ch) showed what good form he’s found recently with an excellent run for 6th place in 21:04, just ahead of Sam Watts (Ch) in 7th, in a time of 21:15. Paddy Barlow (R) was next in 8th (19:42), then Milo Herbert (R) and Matthew Thevathasan (PH) in 13th and 14th respectively. There were also strong runs for Jonny Snell (Ch – 16th), Ted Williams (R – 17th), Artur Sarsenov (SH – 19th), Will Cowper (Rb – 22nd), Scott Nicholson (I – 26th), Will Fallon (PH – 27th) and Dragon Dararattanarojna (S) in 29th. The team score of 18 meant we comfortably claimed the title again.
It’s interesting to note that in the three boys’ races, while we didn’t get any individual wins, we were able to place 2nd and 3rd. A real show of strength, then, across several categories.
Well done to everyone who represented the Hunt. They did themselves, and us, very proud indeed.
Teacher in Charge of the Hunt