Wonderful Day At Nottingham For Sussex

March 15, 2024

A wonderful day for Sussex at the National Inter Counties Cross Country Championships saw a bronze medal for Ava James and 6 top 10 ten team places including silver for the Under 13 boys.

With a change of venue to Wollaton Park in Nottingham, there were concerns about possible waterlogging during the build-up to the day. Thankfully, conditions on the day were perfect, with gentle winds, light mud underfoot and even some glimpses of sunshine.

Lewes AC’s Ava James has had a tremendous cross-country season, and this continued in the under-17 women’s race on Saturday. Clocking 17.09, she comfortably secured the 3rd position – highly impressive for her first year in the age group.

She led her team to 8th overall, with other scorers Esme Stephenson (Lewes) 39th (18.26), Rosie Gasson (Brighton & Hove) 52nd (18.36) and Anya Barrett (Chichester) 70th (18.53).

With all four scorers in the top 40 (out of 297 athletes who completed the race), it was no surprise the under-13 boys placed 2nd overall.  Led by Luca De Giovanni (Portsmouth) in 12th (10.56), Byron Roberts (Eastbourne) in 14th (11.02), Taylor Thom Watts (Brighton & Hove) in 19th (11.06) and Oliver Goodman (Brighton & Hove) 37th (11.16).

Races kicked off with the under-20 men, where Alexander Sproston (Crawley) was the highest Sussex finisher in 12th and Henry Yelling (Brighton & Hove) 24th. Jamie McDowell (Haywards Heath) was 75th and Jonathan Martin (Phoenix) 100th.

This was followed by the under-13 girls, which saw the biggest field of the day with 298 runners. Sussex finished in 10th place with the four scorers being Amelie Whitehouse (Crawley) 35th, Elise Aston (Worthing) 38th, Florence Tewkesbury (HY) 73rd and Gracie Fox (Brighton & Hove) 81st.

Next up were the senior women, where the team placed 6th (one of its highest ever) with Rachel Gifford 52nd, Jess Corbett (Brighton & Hove) 60th, Alice Robinson (Worthing) 65th and Imogen Matthews (Chichester) 100th.

Lewes AC’s Jacob Trotman was the highest finisher in 48th (13.14) in the under-15 boys’ contest, with Fin Lumber Fry (Eastbourne) in 59th (13.19), Jonah Messer (Eastbourne) 98th (13.37) and Stanley Wilkes (Chichester) 106th (13.40).

Competition was fierce in the under-17 men’s race, where there were 290 finishers. First-year in the age group, Finlay Goodman (Brighton & Hove) clocked 18.20, crossing the line in 24th with Fintan Pearce (Eastbourne) 76th (19.03), Thomas Matthews (Brighton & Hove) 81st (19.05) and Freddie Matthews (Brighton & Hove) 108th.

In the under 20 women’s race, Eleanor Strevens (Eastbourne) placed 24th in 21.13, Cerys West (Worthing) 57th (22.44), Ellie McLean (Eastbourne) 60th (22.48) and Amelia Cox (Crawley) 62nd (22.50).

Collectively scoring 218 points, the Sussex under 15 girls were 8th with Eastbourne’s Freda Pearce leading the pack in 23rd, followed by club team-mates Daisy Connor in 47th and Raya Petrova 73rd, then Horsham’s Izzy Wheeler 75th.

In the last race of the day, the Senior Men, Robbie Fitzgibbon (Phoenix) was the first Sussex runner in 62nd, Matthew Grindrod (Brighton & Hove) 84th , Simon Heath (Phoenix) 102nd and Joshua Burton 131st (Phoenix).


by Kate Matthews

Photo Andy Cox