HALESOWEN athletes have represented the county at a national cross country event.

Last Saturday saw the finale of the British Athletics Cross Country Challenge series and Inter Counties Cross Country Championships arrive at Birmingham’s Cofton Park.

After qualifying through the Worcestershire Championships held in Halesowen earlier in the year, many Halesowen athletes’ had worked hard to earn the right to swap their usual club vest for the county vest of Worcestershire.

The Worcestershire team faired well against the rest of the UK. The under 17 men’s team gained the best position placing 14th out of the 43 counties represented. The next best was the under 20 men who placed 17th followed by the under 17 women placing 18th. The under 15 girls were 24th, senior men 26th, under 15 boys 28th, under 13 boys 34th and the under 13 girls 35th.

In the under 13 girls competition, Halesowen athlete Grace Pritchard was first in for the Worcestershire team placing 124th out of 306 competitors in a time of 13.03. The 3k race was won by Herne Hill athlete Alexandra Brown in 11.24. The boys competition saw Hampshire’s Zakariya Mahamed take the line in 10.38. Halesowen’s Charles Sapwell finished 123rd in 11.56, Tom Bailey 263rd (12.53) and Kodie Murphy 268th (12.57) in a field of over 300 runners.

In the under 15’s 4k competition, the first three finishers for Worcestershire were all Halesowen athletes. Lily Higgins brought the team home in 59th place (18.55) with Abbie Saker taking 96th in 19.26 and Livvy Worth 97th in 19.27. Only one Halesowen athlete made the under 15 boys county team. Ben Willetts placed 236th finishing in a time of 19.23. Both races again saw nearly 300 runners take part.

The under 17 men’s 6k race saw Essex athlete Jordan Rowe beat nearly 300 competitors in a time of 18.15. Worcestershire saw two top 20 finishes through Worcester athlete Declan McManus (6th, 18.46) and Birchfield’s William Richardson (17th, 19.05). Flying the Halesowen flag were Niall Geraghty who finished 164th (21.05) and Sam Efiong (211th, 21.48). The girls 5k race was won by Harriet Knowles-Jones from Cheshire in 18.31. Halesowen’s Phoebe Dodd placed 64th in 21.45 with Isabel Hall taking 245th in 26.17.

The under 20 men’s 8k race saw two Halesowen athletes running for the county. Joe Donkin was first in for the county team taking 51st place in 27.42. Sam Lloyd-Perks placed 88th in 28.36. The race was won by Merseyside’s Matthew Shirling in 25.07.

In the senior races, Halesowen had two athletes in the men’s race. Richard White finished 174th in 39.27 and Johnny Cullen 240th in 41.19. Richard Goodman from Middlesex took the tape of the 12k course in 33.54.

For many of the junior athletes, the event was a good lead into next week’s English Schools Athletics Association’s Cross Country Championships being held at Castle Donnington in Leicestershire. Halesowen have a number of juniors who will be swapping club vests once again – this time for either the Herefordshire and Worcestershire County Schools Team or the West Midlands School Team.