‘Ali’s Army’ on the front foot to claim bronze medals

Bronze boys: The Bristol & West AC U13 medallists (L to R): Ewan Sparey, Ollie Squire, Freddie Barnes and Fletcher Rogers.

BRISTOL & West AC’s under 13 boys were the headline makers at the 135th English ‘National’ Cross Country Championships yesterday.

The so-called ‘Ali’s Army’, affectionately named after their coach Alison Hurford, won the team bronze medals with the quartet of Ewan Sparey, Freddie Barnes, Ollie Squire and Fletcher Rogers scoring 227 points.

Sparey continued his superb winter with a hard-earned fourth place just edging out Burton’s Ewan Withnall – both runners given the same time of 10mins 22secs – while Southport Waterloo’s William Delamore was a further second behind in sixth.

Sparey was well supported by Freddie Barnes, enjoying his first year in the age group, in 25th with Ollie Squire in 44th and then Fletcher Rogers completing the scoring in 154th.

The club’s senior had also harboured hopes of winning a team medal to continue their fine form in this event in recent years but on the day it just didn’t click.

Felix McGrath, who has been a consistent performer for the teams that won the South and Midlands team titles,  was below par as he finished 15th and outside the scoring six.

But even allowing for that it would have been highly unlikely that B&W would have challenged champions Leeds City who scored an amazing 108 points to finish 69 points clear of Cambridge & Coleridge with Tonbridge also scoring really well to claim third with 214 points.

Fifth at Parliament Hill last year Jack Millar again led the team home in 16th with Kurt Taylor just behind in 19th . Under 23 runners Luke Burgess and Max Davis both ran strongly to finish 58th and 61st respectively with veterans Jarlath McKenna and Owain Jones digging deep to close in the team.

The B&W women performed strongly to finish ninth with Chelsea Baker (31st) and Katrina Entwistle (46th) both making the top fifth. Jessie Sanzo (129th) and Elaina Gard (141) completed the scoring.

Westbury Harriers’ leading runner was Samantha Munday in 128th while Ben Rawlins was 267th in the men’s race.

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