First and Foreman as Praiya leads charge in superb start to Kennet’s cross country season
Team Kennet produced their best ever performance as they kicked-off their Junior Cross Country season in style with some incredible individual and team efforts in the first round of the Destination Cross Country League.
Over an undulating Wellesey Park course in Aldershot, Kennet managed three team wins and five individual victories from eight races. With perfect conditions overhead and underfoot, more than 80 young athletes turned out to represent the club as Kennet made a fine start to the new campaign.
The under-nine girls made a perfect start to their title defence, with Kennet athletes coming home first and second. Praiya Foreman meant business right from the starting gun, racing into the lead. She was closely followed by Matilda Saunders as the Kennet pair went toe-to-toe through the wooded section of the course. After great runs from both girls, Foreman was the first across the line with Saunders just behind in second.
Matilda Hogg enjoyed a stellar debut and was next home for Kennet in ninth, while Evelyn Pedersen’s 10th-placed finish ensured the A team won the team event. Evelyn Barker, in 11th, and Isla Cooke, who was 12th, were next to cross the finish line as five Kennet athletes finished in the top 12.
The under-nine boys were out in force and followed in the girls’ footsteps, winning the team race. Chester Bailey, who ran hard through the woods to finish third, was Kennet’s fastest finisher, while William Moloney was fifth, Toby Hartley was seventh and Idris Gaye was eighth as the A team wrapped-up the overall victory. Seb Lauder-Clarke was 13th, Jacob Williams 14th and Max Burt was 17th.
The under-11 girls were another group to make an excellent start to their title defence, boasting the largest turnout of 13 runners. Ella Larkin, fresh from her storming summer season, never had anything other than winning on her mind as she finished some 20 seconds clear of the chasing pack. A number of other Kennet athletes, inspired by Larkin’s example, followed in the chasing pack. Penelope Lyth’s lung-busting sprint to the line earned her a third-placed finish, while Maisie McCurtin gained several places through the woods to come home in sixth. Matilda Clare crossed the line in 11th to make sure the girls were victorious in the team event.
The B team, led by Alice Stratford’s 12th placed finish, finished in the top five teams. Affra Bailey was 13th, Ella Parsons 26th and Gracie Cooke was 27th. There were also spirited performances from Penelope Gorbold, 29th, Matilda Pedersen, 31st, Grace Hogg, 35th, and Orlagh Stratford, 37th.
The under-11 boys battled hard in a tough field of over 50 that included strong teams from Aldershot and Basingstoke. Star sprinter Malik Gaye proved he’s equally adept over a longer distance, passing six athletes in the hilly wooded section of the course to finish second. Samuel Atkins surprised everyone when he ran his best ever race to take third place. Flynn Sanderson, 21st, and Josh Bailey, 31st, secured a creditable 4th-placed finish for the team. Joshua Kuijten, 34th, Connor O’Riordan, 38th, Miles Phoenix 41st and Toby Clay, 43rd helped the B team to a top 12 finish.
The under-13 girls, going in search of a second successive title, made a solid start, finishing second despite missing a number of key runners. Harriet Saunders positioned herself well in third and made a well-judged attack in the woods, overtaking her two rivals to come home for another individual victory. Anna Hall produced a great run to cross in fifth while Ella Cronk wasn’t far behind, coming home in seventh.
There were 12 under-13 boys lining up in Kennet colours in the biggest field of the day, with well over 50 runners setting off from a packed start line. Oscar Larkin was the first Kennet athlete across the finish in 12th, with Harry Smith hot on his heels in 13th. Elliot Bell’s solid 17th placed finish and a fine debut run from Arthur Patterson, who was home in 18th, secured the boys team third spot. Charlie Adams was 24th, Henry Bell 25th, Josh Brian 27th and Ben Doherty 28th as the B team raced to a top six finish. Frank Edwards was just behind in 29th, Harry Barnett was 33rd, Noah Lauder-Clarke 34th and Reuben Kuijten 38th as the C team secured a spot inside the top 12.
With all the Kennet girls in the other age groups having won their races, there was pressure on under-15 Charlotte Bailey to do the same. However, she showed no signs of nerves as she established a gap between herself and the pack over the three-lap race, storming home to ensure four Kennet athletes were victorious in the four girls races. Chloe O’Riordan was 14th and Lola Mitcham was 15th as the team finished second.
There were just two Kennet athletes running in the under-15 race. Ethan Kuijten ran a superbly mature race, stalking the two lead runners before reeling them in on the middle lap. He then stayed within five metres of one of his rivals as he attacked and then showed off his change of pace through the woods as he pulled clear to earn Kennet their fifth individual triumph of the fixture. Max Adams also ran well to finish seventh.