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Three National Cross-Country Titles at Malvern

Sedbergh Prep School travelled down to Malvern College on Saturday afternoon to compete at the National Prep School Cross-Country Championships the following day. Last year was a special occasion when Fraser Sproul won the Under 13 boys title, but this year eclipsed that with both the girls and boys coming home with team awards.

The first race of the day, the Under 11 girls, saw 296 runners take to the start line. Milie Gunning, after a hectic week of sport, ran her heart out to finish a fantastic 12th. Polina Whitehead (87) also made the top 100, and with Year 4, Sophia Longworth (104), and Abigail Cass (106) the girls finished a pleasing 13th team out of 50. Another Year 4, Elsie Barker (119), and Heather Booth (164) both gained lots of experience in the big field. An astonishing 343 runners, and 61 teams took part in the Under 11 boys race, where Jack Barker showed his quality, coming home in 43rd place. This was a big step up for the boys, but they all enjoyed the experience, finishing 40th team, with Sebastian Smith (174), Bobbie Rogerson (253), Harry Haydon-Wood (258), Joe DeGroote (285) and Fergus Holden (309) putting their all into it.

The Under 13 girls race had 150 runners competing, and it was great to see captain, Alicia Newing (14), towards the front of the field. Maddy Harrison (28) had her best run at the Nationals, and along with Pippa Darlington (61) and Rosie Bishop (62), the girls finished 6th team out of 27. Not only that the girls claimed the Small Schools trophy, for the first time, a wonderful achievement. Both Alice Dunning (94) and Lucy Mason (98) also finished in the top 100.

The final race of the day saw 38 teams and 220 runners take to the start line, in the Under 13 boys competition. Fraser, who had finished 2nd the previous day at another national event, the Inter-Counties Club Championships, was quietly confident of victory, but in a big field anything can happen. Fraser has been working on his start this season, and it paid off as he got to the front from the gun, and was never threatened, as he won by an astonishing 34 seconds, to retain his title. It is also interesting to note that Fraser was 27 seconds quicker than his time last year. Behind him Freddie Hill (23) and Ben Redshaw (25) both put in their performances of the season, to give Sedbergh a real chance of a team award. Tommy Calvert (106) was our 4th counter home, so it was in the balance whether we had repeated the girls Small Schools trophy. Celebrations were understandable when it was announced that Sedbergh Prep had not only won the Small Schools trophy, but also finished 2nd team overall. To finish ahead of every large prep school in the country, except for Yardley Court, is something that the boys, and the school can be very proud of. Sam Berger (174) and Sam Gunning (189) were the other recipients of a silver team medal.

This was certainly a day to remember. We may never see the likes of Fraser at the prep school again, but what we do have in abundance are boys and girls who will give 100% every time they put a brown vest on. Well done one and all.

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