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Sophie's Bhatt in business

Twelve young Newbury Athletic Club athletes took time out of their busy club calendar to represent their schools at this season’s Berkshire Schools Cross Country Championships, held at Newbury Showground on Saturday.

Early morning fog and ice gradually lifted to leave near perfect conditions for an afternoon of races.

A new rule for this season meant an added incentive to race well, with any athlete finishing in the top four places of each age group automatically qualifying to represent the Berkshire teams at this season’s English Schools Championships in March.

Sophie Bhatt with her invitation to the English Schools Championships
Sophie Bhatt with her invitation to the English Schools Championships

Ethan Robertson, representing The Downs School, gave his best performance to date at this level to claim the silver medal in the under-15 boys race.

He was joined by Josh Norton of the Kennet School who turned on the afterburners, finishing very strongly to claim fourth place from a field of 114.

Sophie Bhatt of St Bart's, the reigning West Berkshire under-19 champion, booked her place with another accomplished performance to finish fourth.

Five more Newbury AC members were rewarded with invites to the next round, the Southern Inter-Counties Schools Championships in February, from where the final eight athletes in each age group will be selected.

Jacob Glendenning of St Bart's, who recently moved up to the under-17s, gave his chances of making the cut a real boost by finishing eighth in the race.

He was joined by Aston Howse of Park House in 10th and Trinity's Matt Carter in 14th, as the duo also earned an invite.

In the same age group Isabel Moore of St Gabriel's finished ninth and Katya Burgess of St Bart's in 16th safely made it through to the next round, ahead of fellow St Bart's student Georgia Knight, who ran well to place 28th.

Park House's Olly Blatchford made his championship debut in the under-13 boys race and ran really strongly to finish sixth, while in the under-15 girls event Lily Mae Gerrard, also of Park House, and St Gabriel's Lola Ashton came 39th and 48th respectively from a stacked field of 111.

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