I’m coming to the conclusion that Woodbank Park is the toughest of the Manchester XC League courses for the juniors.  This year not only did it have the killer hill and ‘the cliff’, but it was full of mud.  Several of our athletes lost their footing during the run with Carys Bucknall suffering the classic lost shoe.  Fortunately, she chose the right puddle to search for it!

It wasn’t the best turn out from the boys, but we did have individual runners in three different age categories.  Dominic Gibson represented the U11s, coming home in 47th.  Angus Morris was 58th for the U13s.  Both have now completed enough races to get a final placing in the series.  Thomas Egan was our final junior finishing 34th in the U15s.

The highlight of the day was the overall performance of the U11 girls.  We managed to complete two teams with the A team an impressive third, pipping Salford by one point.  Our B team did very well to finish 9th.  This does give our U11 girls a shot at finishing 3rd in the series if they manage to get the better of Salford in the final race in the series.  Holly Newton was again scintillating as she finished an excellent 5th.  Particularly impressive was Charlotte Stansfield in 11th.  Her improvement at cross country over the last year has been exceptional.  Eleanor Nicholson was 3rd counter in a superb 16th, a big improvement on her first Manchester League performance.  Also adding herself to the growing number of girls that have managed a top 20 Manchester League finish was Sara Herceg-Millington in 18th.  This was her first race in the Manchester League, although she has impressed in many other competitions over the last year.  Thea Prattley also continues to move her way up the leaderboard, sneaking into the top 30 in 29th for a promising top half finish.  Carys Bucknall did well to finish 40th despite the mishap with the shoe.  Holly, Charlotte and Thea have completed all three races so they will get a final placing in the series.

Our U13 girls had a mixed day, finishing 14th overall.  Esme Pearson was our first finisher, continuing her good form in 14th.  Our second counter Orla Flynn was running her first Manchester League race.  She finished 57th and has set a challenging target for her to try and beat in the future.  Not far behind Orla was Eva Bucknall, running well to finish 62nd.  More unfortunate was Aisling McHale, who twisted her ankle badly in the chaos of the start and was unable to continue as she limped back to our flag.  This does mean that our U13 girls will get a finishing position in the series, something that the club hasn’t managed for a long time.  Esme has managed to complete all four races, so she will get a final placing in the series, just like she did last year!

One more race to go at Wythenshawe Park.  Can the U11 girls beat Salford?  Will we have enough U11 boys for the team to finish the series?  Who will surprise with a run that surpasses all their previous efforts?  Tune in next month to find out!