Mansfield Harriers duo shine at English Schools Cross-Country Championships
Despite the coronavirus crisis, the event went ahead as planned, with big numbers converging on Sefton Park in Liverpool.
And both McNeil and Connell did Harriers proud as two of 16 athletes representing the cream of Nottinghamshire.
The former completed a superb cross- country season in terrific style by enjoying one of her best runs of the winter to place 11th in the senior girls’ race.
Her performance was made even more impressive by the fact that she hails from the lowest of the two school years in the age category. Of the runners from her year, she was fourth.
In the same race, Harriers teammate Louise Cocking, running for Derbyshire, ran strongly to place 134th, while Nancy Britten was 189th, representing Lincolnshire on her debut at the championships.
Connell concluded a fantastic winter by finishing 17th in the senior boys’ race. Tactically sound throughout, he also came from the lowest of the two school years in the category, and was sixth best in his year. Further behind was teammate Sam Bentley, who was 269th in his first appearance at the event.
The pick of the Harrier runs in the junior races was a terrific 49th place for Jake Greenhalgh in the boys’ contest. He deserved extra credit because, after missing the break in a cavalry charge-type start, he showed admirable maturity to run through most of the field for his top-50 placing.
After a long lay-off because of injury Jake Orr performed very well to cross the line in 294th position, while debutants in the event, Johar Ali and Sam Knott, were happy to be placed 237th and 331st respectively.
Ruby Milnes was first the Mansfield Harriers athlete back in the junior girls’ race, finishing 175th. She was closely followed by Grace Manson in 231st and Beth Hamilton in 284th.
Completing the Harriers’ line-up, Olivia Barrett placed 281st in the intermediate girls’ race, which was the first contest of the day.
Meanwh ole, on the roads, Shaun Arrowsmith was a lone Mansfield athlete racing at the Dronfield 10K, where he recorded a chip time of 50 minutes and 28 seconds, and finished 260th in a 713-strong field.