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Range Hosts Successful ESAA Cross Country Finals!

Range High School was honoured to be chosen to host the English Schools Athletics Association (ESAA) National Cross Country Finals on Saturday 3rd December. Pupils in Y7-10 from all over the country came to the school to tackle a challenging course covering the school's grounds and adjacent sand dunes. Organisation for the event took over two years, and it was a huge sporting and logistical success. We are grateful to all those who supported the event as marshals and to our neighbours.

The competition is for Junior (under 14) and Intermediate (under 16) age groups. The local rounds started in October, with over 1660 teams from over 570 schools throughout England competing against other local schools in their county. The leading teams from the competitions held in each county then compete in one of 8 regional finals in order to qualify for the National Final which pits the leading 3 teams in each age group in each region against each other. Teams from Range High School have reached the National Final on two previous occasions but unfortunately this year our Intermediate Boys’ team was eliminated at the North West Regional Final.

With the help of Mike Dooling of Merseyside Athletics Association and officials from the ESAA itself, the school designed a fast, flat but challenging and quite picturesque course over very mixed terrain including playing fields, a farm track, woodland and soft sandy ground. The school is grateful also for the assistance provided by Rachel Northover of the Sefton Council Countryside and Coast team for permission to use the Ravenmeols Local Nature Reserve for part of the course. Fortunately the weather was kind to us on the day and visitors from as far afield as Northumberland and Cornwall could be heard expressing admiration for this part of the Sefton coastline. “A great venue and a fantastic course” said one teacher from Bedford. “I would just like to say how well organised the event was on Saturday …the facilities all made for an enjoyable day. The boys in particular liked the course”, said another from Chester.

This highly prestigious event has been a launch pad to worldwide success for a number of athletes in the past, having featured such famous names as Alastair Brownlee, Jessica Ennis-Hill, Greg Rutherford and Mo Farah, who between them have won 8 Olympic gold medals. As for this year’s races, a name to look out for in the future is that of Harris Mier of Truro School who won the Intermediate Boys’ race for the second year in succession in the excellent time of 13 mins 15 seconds, well ahead of his nearest rival. Unfortunately his team mates were not quite as fast and the winning school in his race was The Judd School of Tonbridge. The Junior and Intermediate Girls’ team races were won by Notre Dame High School, Sheffield and Charters School, Ascotrespectively. Local supporters were disappointed to see Calday Grange Grammar School pipped to the Junior Boys’ title by the narrowest of margins. The 4th placed runner of Woodbridge Schoolfinished 54th out of 141 but had he finished one place lower his team would not have emerged as outright winners.

Range High School’s runners are looking forward to competing again next year and possibly reaching for the third time the National Final, which is being held at Sevenoaks School, Kent in November 2017.

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