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Adam Hickey is a class apart in Essex League opener
ADAM Hickey warmed up for the country’s first big cross-country meeting of the season with a dominant win at the first Essex Cross-Country League meeting of the year.
The Southend AC athlete won by more than a minute-and-a-half and helped his team to first place in the senior men’s race at Notley Park, Braintree, as he builds towards the European Championship Cross-Country trials in five weeks time.
The next part of his preparations for that date is the first UK Cross Challenge meeting of the winter at Bristol on Sunday where he will get a good form guide as he tests himself against some of the best cross-country runners in the UK.
Hickey’s team-mate David Gibbon had a fantastic run to finish third over the tough Notley course and with Rhys Gillard 13th, Paddy Walsh 18th, Rob Frith 25th and Ashley Capel 29th, Southend were convincing team winners.
There was an intriguing battle in the senior women’s race as two Great Britain internationals went head to head.
Havering Mayesbrook’s Lauren Deadman prevailed over Basildon AC’s Gemma Kersey but Kersey – who is also running in Bristol on Sunday as she targets a spot in the GB under-23 team for the European Cross-Country Championships – will have been encouraged by the gap between her and one of the strongest senior cross-country runners in the country which was just 28 seconds. The ever-improving Southend AC athlete Kerry Holland ran strongly to finish third while Basildon AC’s Kirsty Tydeman was eighth.
In the younger age groups there was a win for Thurrock Harriers’ Gemma Holloway and plenty of other encouraging performances from up-and-coming athletes.
Holloway won a top class under-17/20 women’s race after an entertaining battle with Basildon AC’s English Schools 3,000m champion Alice Perkins.
Palmer’s College student Holloway eventually managed to pull away from Perkins and cross the line first.
Not far behind was Benfleet RC’s Victoria Hiscock who ran strongly as a bottom year athlete in the age group with Basildon AC’s Emily Bullis eighth.
Perkins and Bullis’ top ten finishes, added to Eleanor Johnson in 12th and Emma Houchell in 13th, meant Basildon won their third team title of the day, with the other two wins coming in the under-15 boys and under-17 men races.
Max Jones led the winning new-towners team home in the under-15 boys’ race, just missing out on victory after a sprint finish with Colchester & Tendring’s Joe Patterson.
Gus Withers (fifth) and Mason Webb (sixth) both had strong runs despite being the youngest year in the age group and Ben Haynes (seventh) rounded off a good team performance.
Like Jones, Laurence Willmore – making his debut for Basildon after switching from Southend – was denied victory in the closing stages in the under-17 men’s race with Timothy Cobden, of Cambridge & Coleridge prevailing.
Team-mate Adam Houchell was next home in third just ahead of Adam Jordan (Southend AC, fifth) and Christian Gray (Basildon AC, sixth). Benfleet’s Eddy Cooper ran well for ninth place while Daniel Ashley’s 16th place was enough to help Basildon to the team win.
Canvey’s Jodie Judd (Chelmsford AC) ran strongly for second in the under-15 girls race, finishing behind training partner Khai Mhlanga, with Basildon’s Jemima Walker digging deep to finish in fifth.
Sinead Clark (Benfleet) and Katie Feint (Chelmsford) finished in sixth and seventh places, impressive as both are in the younger band of the age group, while Niamh Smith of Basildon AC was ninth.
Southend AC have found some talented youngsters in the under-13 age groups if the first race in the series is anything to go by.
In the under-13 boys race, Mitchell Lawrence was second and Craig Wheeler fourth for the Seasiders while Basildon AC’s James Perkins just pipped Thurrock Harriers’ Reece Scott in a sprint for the line to finish in sixth.
Joanna Rimmington was Southend’s star in the under-13 girls race, finish in third place. Thurrock’s Hayley Instance was eighth.