Senior debutants help Mansfield Harriers shine in cross-country league

DEBUT DELIGHT -- for Mansfield Harriers duo Jade Bacon and Hannah Shaw at Shipley Park.
DEBUT DELIGHT -- for Mansfield Harriers duo Jade Bacon and Hannah Shaw at Shipley Park.

A strong squad of athletes, including some making their senior debuts, heaped credit on delighted Mansfield Harriers in the opening race of the Booths Cross-Country Series at Shipley Park in Heanor.

Harriers fielded 24 runners, spearheaded by Phil Butcher, who produced a magnificent run to cross the line in seventh place.

Team manager Phil Shaw was second home for the men in 24th place, followed by Gary Morley in 38th, Ged Naylor 51st, Garry Hodgkins 54th, Andy Henson 71st, Nigel Watkin 75th, Craig Linacre 76th, Alan Kemp 95th, Colin Fell 179th, Dave Robertson 226th and Richard Massey 268th.

For the ladies, first home was the superbly consistent Kahli Johnson in 114th followed by team manager Bev Armstrong in 120th. The next three ladies were all athletes who have come through the junior system at the club and were competing at senior cross-country level for the first time. They were Katie Lancaster in 153rd, Jade Bacon in 184th and Hannah Shaw in 198th.

Following these in were Maddy Collinge in 217th, Julia Lowe 252nd, Amanda Shaw 254th, Mel Ceney 262nd, Tina Copcutt 281st, Theresa Copcutt 284th and Michelle Baxter 288th.

Harriers also had a terrific turnout for the first of the Nottinghamshire Sportshall events held at the Oak Tree Leisure Centre in Mansfield, with 20 athletes competing in a team full of quality.

One of the highlights came in the U13 boys’ catergory where debutant Ben Madeley put in an outstanding performance to win the male athlete of the match award after winning his three events, the two-lap run, vertical high jump and standing long jump.

Also at U13 level, Tania Smith won the same three events and helped the relay team to victory -- an effort that was good enough to place her second overall in the girls’ athlete of the match rankings.

Sophie Brown was the only other individual winner at that age, taking the shot event, but fine displays were produced by Bryony Evans, who was fourth in her first try at the four-lap run.

Harriers’ U15 girls finished second, with Jessica Lake runner-up to the female athlete of the match in all her three events, coming third overall in the female rankings. Katie Kemp came second in the shot and Holly-May Spencer was third in the four-lap run.

The U11 girls finished third overall, helped by Grace Manson, who had a brilliant day, winning two events and coming second in the three-lap race to rank fourth overall in the female standings. The U11 boys were also third.