Three teams reach national final for second successive year
Bourne Grammar School continued its current golden era of cross-country after three teams reached the national final for the second successive year.
They had produced strong performances in the first round of the competition at Crowland last month as four teams qualified for Saturday’s regional round.
Conditions were perfect and numerous schools from across the North Midlands were in attendance but, with just three teams per age group qualifying for the final on November 24 at Woodbridge School in Suffolk, competition would be fierce.
Following a thorough warm-up, the experienced team of four Year 8 girls plus Norah Brill and Holly Griffin from Year 7 began the race well, taking heed of the advice to go out hard for the first 400metres to establish good early positions in the 2.4k course.
As the race progressed, the largely flat course suited the girls from the Fens and they established good positions throughout.
It was evident that, if this could be maintained, a finals place could be beckoning.
Charlotte Cullen led the team home in an outstanding eighth place with Erin Cox hot on her heels in ninth.
Brill had an outstanding race to finish in 11th and Hannah Taylor's 13th place finish added belief that a final place could be secured.
Aoife Glasswell crossed the line in 14th position following a strong finish while Griffin was 34th to complete the team of six finishing in a race with almost 80 athletes.
Following a short wait for confirmation of the results, the team score of 41 points was enough to secure second place overall and get the day off to a stunning and very positive start.
Buoyed by the success of the girls, the largely untested Junior Boys now needed to try and match this.
Another high-paced start to a race saw the boys begin strongly and they soon settled into their rhythm. However, this more than anything, would prove to be a real team performance.
Only Johan Coughlan (Year 7) would finish in the top 10 (sixth) with a hugely impressive run.
As the race began to reach its conclusion and places within the team relatively stable, it became increasingly unclear if the boys would qualify.
Eventually, Seb Beedell (12th), Owen James (18th) and Thomas Preston (35th) completed the group of four scoring athletes but, with a team score of 71, progression to the final is rarely achieved.
Nevertheless, qualification was secured in third place as Bourne’s second team of the day knew they were on the way to Suffolk for the final.
Ben Simpson (37th) and Sammy Harriss (45th) completed the final two positions for the team.
The Intermediate Girls, led by Flo Brill, attacked the 2.8km course and positions rotated on a regular basis in the first half of the race.
An excellent fourth position placed Brill as the highest finisher in the four Bourne teams with Lauren Stuart (22nd), Tilly Manning (35th) and Maisie Brownlow (37th) completing the score of 98 for the team.
Helene Wilson (49th) almost caught Holly Moore (40th) in a large cluster of athletes but an overall sixth place finish meant the end of the road for this team.
A little pressure was now being felt by the Intermediate Boys as expectations were high as three had competed in the final last year as juniors.
The 4.3k course held up well as the fourth race loomed and all started well with Connor Ely and Sam Oakley pushing into the top 10 very early - a position they would maintain as the race progressed.
Others were spread through the field and continued to swap positions on a regular basis.
Slowly but steadily they picked their way through the pack and, by the finish, Ely held onto ninth place and Oakley finished in 11th.
Harry Hewitt picked his way through the pack and made considerable ground to secure 21st.
With Hugo Brill finishing in 24th and a team score of 65, qualification was very much in doubt until the final confirmation revealed Bourne had completed a national final treble. Oliver Lee crossed the line in 35th place and Alex Galpin followed just two places behind.
Chris Ray, head of physical education at the school, commented: “For the second consecutive year, three teams will attend a national final which is a remarkable achievement for any year.
“The elusive full house has yet to be achieved, but the School remains in a golden era for cross country and boast a record second to none in the region.
“Congratulations to all the students and many thanks to the parents for supporting them in all the races.”