Best-ever result for Rugby & Northampton AC at nationals

Rugby & Northampton AC (R&N) achieved their best-ever result in a national final at Manchester’s Sportcity.

Members of Rugby & Northampton AC pose for the camera after their super effort in Manchester
Members of Rugby & Northampton AC pose for the camera after their super effort in Manchester

They fell just three points shy of a win, losing out to Blackheath & Bromley Harriers in a thrilling finale.

Undefeated in league and regional final stages, R&N lined up with the top seven clubs in the National UK Youth Development Final, the cream of 199 clubs involved across England, Scotland and Wales.

Highlights included wins for U15s Ernest Kisel and Harrison Nash in the 100m, and national level performances and wins for Olivia Monk in the 100m, Isabella Banks in the 75m hurdles and Isabella Knight in the high jump.

This was followed by double wins for English Schools champion, Savannah Morgan and Lucy Boyes in the 300m.

The U13 boys were inspired by a win for Laike Favier in the 1200m and a superb 75m hurdles from Sonny Briggs-McKellar, a performance which catapulted him into the UK top 10 rankings. Charlie Cook’s javelin success took him to UK number one and a personal best for Martha Pollard also confirmed her ranking in the top five U13 javelin girls in the UK.

With all the individual track events competed, R&N AC trailed Blackheath by some 29 points. However, a series of exciting wins in the relays changed the entire complexion of the match. First the U15 girls 4x100 quartet of Monk, Grace McCollin, Banks and Morgan kicked a dent into the deficit. Then Jacob Vural, Kisel, Robbie Dale and Nash battered it with a season’s best performance in their 4x100m.

The most thrilling event of the day was the U15 girls 300m relay.

Boyes, Esme Du Bois and Maia Thompson powered R&N into a strong position for anchor leg runner Ella Darby.

She faced a serious challenge from top Reading sprinter Molly Barnes but Darby somehow held on to secure another win with the girls’ performance the best by any U15 team in the UK this year.

Ahead of the final event of the day, the U15 boys 4x300m, Blackheath and R&N were tied on 638 points.

With two of R&N’s runners weary from the 4x100m and all of Blackheath’s fresh, it was always likely to end as it did – with a win for Blackheath which saw them finish on 648 points, just three ahead of R&N (645).

However, it topped their previous best of third in a National Final and club vice-chairman John Gercs said: “This was a truly unbelievable performance which was made possible by inspirational coaches and incredible athletes at both Northampton and Rugby hubs working together as one.

“It’s just a taste of our future at the top table of athletics.”