Aldershot, Farnham and District’s Jonny Hay was the star performer of a fifteen-strong England squad at the LXVII Cross Internacional Juan Mugerza in Elgoibar, Spain yesterday, writes Nicola Bamford.The event held on a course around the Sports Centre attracted athletes from far and wide with Kenya, Uganda, Argentina, Russia, Italy, France, Portugal and Spain being represented.
In heavy rain and mud-drenched conditions, the 17-year-old took a three-second victory in the junior men’s race over team-mate, Richard Goodman. Fresh from third place in the Cardiff leg of the McCain UK Cross Challenge and twenty-third position in the European under20 Championships in Dublin, Hay improved on fifth in the same competition last year to underline his promise.
Goodman; 16 of Shaftesbury Barnet Harriers, continued his fine vein of form from his recent fifth place in the Continental junior Championships to push Hay all the way to the line.
Warrington’s 18-year-old Harry Ellis; the recently-crowned Northern 3,000m indoor junior Champion placed seventh, whilst World School Games’ 3,000m 5th-placer, Tom Curr (17, Stroud) completed the team in ninth.
Team England’s junior ladies sqad, though incomplete, was the most successful team of the day for the English lions. Runner-up to Frederica Bevilacqua of Italy, fifth in the recent Europeans, Bedford and County’s 16-year-old Emily Wallbank – second under17 in the European cross trials last November – was first home, shortly followed by Ruth Haynes (16, AFD) in third position. Melissa Courtney (16, Poole AC) and the winner in Cardiff the previous weekend, finished a fine fourth.
Neilson Hall; the 27-year-old Bedford and County runner, ran strongly to place inside the top-ten of a classy international field. In his debut race of 2010, Hall put in a sterling performance to mix it with some of the best mud-larks on the cross circuit in tenth position.
Following a solid sixteenth-place in the BUPA Great Edinburgh international cross earlier this month, Altrincham’s 31-year-old Dave Norman finished in nineteenth, with Phil Nicholls (26, Tipton) shortly behind in twentieth. 23-year-old Jonathan Mellor of Liverpool Harriers; twelfth in Edinburgh and making his England debut finished in twenty-third position to complete the England squad. The winner in this event being Komon of Kenya.
In an equally-impressive international field, Sale Harriers’ 30-year-old Sonia Samuels; fresh from a fine twenty-first place in Dublin, ran solidly to place eighth just behind Moreira of Portugal, 10th in Dublin.Rebecca Robinson (27, Kendal) finished second counter in tenth-place, just ahead of masters’ athlete,Tara Krzywicki (35, Charnwood) and Julia Bleasdale (28, Hillingdon AC) in eleventh and thirteenth, respectively. The race being won by Goshu of Ethiopia.