SOUTH Essex’s youngsters dominated a mud-bath of an Essex Cross-Country Championships over a typically brutal course at Hadleigh Country Park.
There were gold medals for Gus Withers, Jodie Judd, George Elliott and Gemma Holloway while in the senior ranks, Thurrock Harriers’ Jo Wilkinson won the women’s race.
It was a particularly impressive day for Basildon AC who won a fantastic four team golds while Southend AC picked up one in the under-17 men’s race.
Other medallists included Toby Wright, Sinead Clark, Adam Jordan, Victoria Hiscock, Jemima Walker, Adam Houchell, Sophie Riches, Alice Perkins, Eleanor Johnson and Tom Frith.
The under-13 boys’ race went with the form book as Basildon AC’s Withers powered to victory. Toby Wright (Southend AC) was again the closest athlete to him as he picked up the silver.
Withers’ team-mates packed well behind him to ensure Basildon took their first team gold of the day, with Mitchel Cox coming home in fourth, Mason Webb fifth and James Perkins 19th.
Southend AC were bronze medallists with Mitchell Lawrence (12th), Jack Bloomer (22nd) and Toby Jordan (43rd) joining Wright in the scoring team.
There was a great showing by Benfleet RC duo Sinead Clark and Megan Richardson in the under-13 girls race, with Clark coming home in third place and Richardson winning a sprint out with Southend High School for Girls’ Katie Faint (Chelmsford AC) to finish fifth. Basildon AC’s Niamh Smith ran well to secure fourth place while Eastwood School’s Phoebe Jeffrey was eighth and, along with Faint, part of the gold medal-winning Chelmsford AC team.
George Elliott put in one of the most dominant performances of the day, tearing the under-15 boys field to shreds.
The Eastwood School pupil, who runs for Chelmsford AC, was nearly a minute ahead of his nearest rival.
There was a superb run by Southend AC’s Adam Jordan who picked up a bronze medal while his team-mate Lawrence Willmore and Basildon AC’s Christian Gray had an almighty sprint finish to the line, which Willmore won by a fraction as they finished in fourth and fifth places.
Gray led home Basildon’s second gold medal-winning team of the day with support coming from Max Jones (seventh), Ben Haynes (10th) and Ollie Cantwell (14th).
Thurrock Harriers’ Jody Meredith, meanwhile, finished in eighth place.
Jodie Judd, inset, was just as dominant as her Chelmsford AC team-mate Elliott as she won the under-15 girls’ race in fine fashion and led her team to gold in the process.
Behind her there was a real battle for second and third as Victoria Hiscock (Benfleet RC) and Jemima Walker (Basildon AC) sprinted for the line, with Hiscock just getting the silver.
Walker’s efforts helped her team to a bronze medal with Isobel Ives (14th), Kiera Tippett (21st) and Tilly Aitmarri (27th) making the scoring team.
Southend AC duo Natasha May and Lucy Kidwell both ran strongly to finish ninth and 10th respectively.
Adam Houchell (Basildon AC) had a fantastic run to finish second behind winner Jordan Rowe in the under-17 men’s race while Southend AC’s strong squad in this age group ensured they won the team prize.
Rob Frith (fourth) and Ben Franklin (fifth) were both at the head of the field and they received good support from Joe Ray (12th) and Dominic Le Mare (19th). James Nadin, running for Chelmsford, finished in seventh place.
The under-17 women’s race, with arguably the highest quality field of the day, was an entertaining spectacle with Gemma Holloway (Thurrock Harriers) and Rayleigh’s Sophie Riches (Chelmsford AC) trading places throughout, with Holloway ultimately proving the stronger and taking the spoils.
Basildon AC’s Alice Perkins had another fine run to finish in third place and lead her team to a gold medal. Kaylee Dodd (eighth), Emma Houchell (10th) and Emily Bullis (11th) rounded out the Basildon scorers.
Such was Basildon’s dominance in this age group, their B team won a bronze medal with their counters made up of Poppy Aitmarri (13th), Maisie Jones (18th), Sophie Crofts (20th) and Laura Kidd (26th).
The under-20 women were run in the same race as the under-17 women with Basildon’s Eleanor Johnson winning the bronze medal. With strong support coming from Jade Peel (fifth), Amy Webb (ninth) and Emily Ballard (12th), Basildon picked up their fourth team gold of the championships.
Their final team medal of a successful championships came in the under-20 men’s race where Jack Fisall (fourth), Tom Richardson (seventh), Stephen Strange (ninth) and Andy Law (17th) were silver medallists. Southend AC’s Oliver Kyriakides was eighth.
Jo Wilkinson made a rare appearance in the Thurrock Harriers’ colours to win the senior women’s race, while Benfleet’s Charlotte Peppiatt had a very good run to finish seventh.
Southend AC’s Tom Frith picked up his first senior county cross-country medal with a bronze in the senior men’s race, where no one could live with former Colchester & Tendring AC athlete Tom Payn who took the victory.
Basildon AC’s Grant Webb had a terrific run to crack the top 10, finishing in 9th place.