Weekend News Report - 26th/27th January 2019

Pearce Captures Major Cross Country Title

Henry Pearce produced the biggest win of his career when he captured the men's title at the South of England Cross Country Championships, on Saturday. Heading a strong Tonbridge team performance, over the historic nine-mile course at Parliament Hill, North London, Pearce won by just four seconds in 45.53, from the reigning English National Champions, Adam Hickey, of Southend.

Pearce is an ex Tonbridge School pupil, before heading to Loughborough University, a spell at Tulsa University, in the USA and now back in the UK working full time. He celebrated his twenty fifth birthday two days before the race and hopes to compete in the National Championships later in February. In recent months he has focussed on the marathon where he ran 2.19.23 in October 2018.

Pearce led the Tonbridge team to the silver medals, as they totalled 115 points, but were beaten by Aldershot with 105, as sixty nine teams completed. Heading into the seventh mile Tonbridge led by three points, but the lead was over turned. Ryan Driscoll had one of his best races to date to finish 7th and with Ben Cole 10th and Max Nicholls in 15th, from over a thousand finishers, it looked set up for a team victory. Jamie Bryant finished 31st , forty places higher than his last appearance at the event and Alex Howard battled hard to take 51st. However, Aldershot packed all six scorers between 9th and 28th to take the win.

Nicole Taylor bounced back from illness earlier in the week to finish 4th in the senior women's race, only losing out for a medal in the home straight. She was backed up by Sian Robertson (40th), Sasha Houghton (114th) and Alex Crockford (142nd),  as the team finished 9th of 71.

The Tonbridge highlight from the young athletes age groups was a convincing victory for the under 13 girls' team, who defeated thirty-eight other clubs. Lily Slack almost took the individual victory,  but was overtaken a few metres short of the finish by Ruby Vinton, from Ipswich and finished second. Olivia Breed was close behind in 3rd, with Sophie Slack (9th) and Gracie MacAuley (17th) both having superb runs. Outside of the scoring four, Penny Horne was 25th from 316 finishers.

Two more team medals came Tonbridge's way from the under 15 boys and under 17 men. Matthew Taylor had a race long battle with fellow Kent athlete Louis Small, from Ashford and was another to miss gold by just one second at the finish. Henry Taylor (8th), Matthew Dubery (28th) and Fin Croll (46th) were the other scorers.

The under 17 men won the bronze medals with James Kingston (9th), Adam Van der Plas (15th), Toby Emm (33rd) and Alex Sandberg (63rd) scoring. There were 5th placings for the under 13 boys and under 20 men, 7th for the under 17 women and 34th for the under 15 girls. Katie Goodge (under 17) was the only individual from these races to have a top ten placing, as she finished 9th.

Videos from the event are available here.

Club Athletes Compete Indoors Around the World

Whilst many of the club's members were in North London for the South of England Cross country Championships, some athletes from Tonbridge AC were competing indoors.

In the USA James West opened his season, racing for Oregon University,  at Arkansas, where he ran a 4.01 mile in the relay on Friday before coming back on Saturday to win his 800 metres race, with a new Tonbridge men's club indoor record of 1.50.08.

Also, in the States Chris Olley ran for the University of San Francisco at Washington, where he finished second over 3000 metres in 7.58.42, less than a second outside his personal best.

Kieran Reilly raced for an England team, gaining his first international vest, as he finished 7th over 1500 metres, in Vienna, Austria, recording 3.46.12, just two hundredths of a second away from his recent indoor personal best. The performances by Reilly, West and Olley rank them inside the UKs current top ten, at those respective events.

The London Indoor Games were held at Lee Valley across both days at the weekend. The Tonbridge highlight was Asha Root trimming her own club under 20 women's 400 metres record by one hundredth of a second to 57.78. Many of the 60 metre sprinters were a fraction outside of their recent bests with Jack Lennard recording 7.00, Anton Bachorski (u20) 7.08 and Zac Nwogwugwu (u17) 7.19. Bachorski ran a big indoor personal best over 200 metres on Sunday of 22.89.

Angie Crush set a new Club women's V40 indoor record of 2.16m in the Pole Vault at the same event, placing her at the top of the UK age group rankings.

Emma-Sophia Elston, who had only previously competed in school events, won her first ever race in club athletics when she took a 60 metres victory in a swift 8.16. The under 17 age group prospect has immediately achieved the qualifying time for the national age group championships.