Bridgewater returned to Rochdale this week to compete in the annual AJIS Cross Country Championships at Beech House. Last year the team managed to claim a fantastic third place overall, however none of our athletes had managed to break into the top 10, whilst few made the top 30. To be fair, with over 130 runners in each of the 6 races this is hardly be surprising as more than 25 schools sent their best runners to the event. Consequently, the results that were to come in from this year’s races are even more worthy of celebrating.
The event began with a brisk walk around the course and immediately those who are regular Salford Cross Country League runners noted that this course was considerably longer. The U9 race was the first up and the team of Molly, Esme, Abigail, Jasmine and Kayleigh found the going tough. The girls crossed the line in close proximity, with Molly (93) leading the Bridgewater pack home through the ever increasing muddy finish line.
Next up was the U9 boys’ race and this was to prove to be the best race of the day. This race had over 150 runners taking part and it was a fast and furious race from start to finish. Joel (99) and Arrav found the going tough, but Harrison (59) and Luca C (47) came home with the main pack. However, the real story of the day was to lie with the lead group and Bridgewater runners were to be very much in the hunt for the team and amazingly, individual medals! Josh (31) was narrowly beaten by Sebastian B (30) and both can be delighted with their performances. On any other day we would be focusing on the brilliant performance by Luca B who was pipped at the post for a bronze medal to finish in an incredible 4th place. However, this AMAZING achievement was to be surpassed by Alfie. Alfie had sprinted off with the lead runners and was in the Top 10 as they disappeared down the hill and into the woodland trail. Seven minutes later he emerged from the trees and up the hill at the front of the chasing pack. Incredibly, Alfie remained calm and even pulled away from the second place runner to take first place and become Bridgewater Prep’s first ever AJIS Cross Country U9 Champion. A very proud moment for the team and I cannot state enough how incredible an achievement this is. Both Alfie and Luca have been selected to compete in the National Finals in Reading.
The U10 girls’ race was up next and the success stories kept coming for our runners. Fresh from her recent runs in the Salford series of runs, Jasmine produced her best performance of the year to race home in a fabulous 11th place. Anya (38), Evie (49), Nyla (57), Thea (58) and Holly(78) can all be proud of themselves in another great race for Bridgewater competitors. The U10 boys tried to emulate the girls next and Thomas and Tobias resumed their own competition following on from their battles in the Salford races. Thomas holds the edge at the moment and he finished in a fantastic 20th place, whilst Tobias came home in an impressive 31st. Jaydon (43), Matteo (62), David(82), Craig and Chun Ka confirmed the strength in the depth in cross country and if we can get more of this set of runners to compete in the Salford League, then maybe next year we can target a team medal?
In the final races of the day, the drama continued with the U11 girls having to do the race twice! A false start and the confusion that followed meant that the girls ran the race not knowing the result would not stand. This had an impact on our four runners, Jess, Evie, Florence and Freya. Despite having a 15 minute break to recover the girls could not repeat their efforts in the first race and even Jess was left to struggle around the course for a second time. The U11 boys race went off without a hitch and once again Bridgewater had a couple of incredible performers. Dean, Owen, Oliver B, Alfie, Daniel and Paul all found the now slippery and even longer course tough going, but completed the course admirably. However, Bridgewater may have two more athletes up for the Nationals, as Lukee (12) and Harrison (13) have put themselves in the running for selection after their awesome race.
We await the final team results with anticipation, nevertheless whatever the outcome we can be proud of all our runners and in particular, those who achieved personal bests and set new targets for future Bridgewater athletes to aspire to!