Club survive in cross country league’s top flight with outstanding come back

Bentley Fight Back in Style

Sunday 19th February saw the final fixture of the season in the 53-12 Cross-Country League.  Sitting at the foot of Pool ‘A’, Great Bentley faced an uphill task to avoid relegation to Pool ‘B’.  T, the team produced what can only be described as one of the best performances in the club’s 30 year history to survive, and do so with aplomb.

A large squad of 63 made the journey to Witham’s fixture at Discovery Park for what would be the scene of a great battle.

The combined men’s and women’s senior team of 57 finished 2nd for the fixture, placing them in 4th place for the final league standings for the second time in two seasons and placing them above local rivals Harwich and Springfield.

The Ladies team of 19 finished 2nd for the fixture, improving by 1 place on the previous fixture at Chelmsford, with Hayley Munn running outstandingly in her season debut for Bentley to win the race outright.  She was followed with a superb run by Vicky Presland (7th) who improved 3 places on the previous fixture at Chelmsford.  Sam Godden (10th) quickly followed, with her first top 10 finish this season and ensuring the Ladies team had s scorers in the top 10, again for the first time this season.

Meera Rajoo-Oakley (15th) topped a fantastic season of progression with a further improvement of 6 places and season’s best to complete the scoring team of 4.

Other strong runs came from Geraldine Springett (25th), Toni Wilson (32nd) and Rachel Giles (48th), all improving by 10, 7 and 9 places respectively, with Sara Greenham (90th) making a storming return to the cross-country scene with a 49 place improvement on her last outing at Colchester in November.

There were also good season debuts from Alison Day (34th) and Hien Hoang (55th).

The men’s race saw some fantastic performances, taking the team up 1 place to finish 3rd for the fixture.

Dave Green led the team home in a great 2nd place in his season debut.  He was followed by promising young triathlete Joe Alexander (8th), improving 1 place.  Adam Smith (10th) was close behind giving the men 3 finishers in the top 10, the first time this has happened in many years.

The ever-reliable Dave Wright (30th) came next, with Chris Warren (34th) the first of the veterans.  Ryan Day (39th), Russ Sharp (44th) and Mark Jasper (48th) completed the scoring team.  Helping to close out potential scorers from other teams, strong supporting runs followed from Ben Ficken (58th) Tom Fowler (63rd) and Jake Darkin (68th).  Michael Simmons (78th) was close behind as the team’s first V50.  Paul Carlisle (110th) also produced a strong run, improving 4 places and was the team’s first V55.

Welcome season debuts came from Chris Green (123rd) and Graham Semple (138th).

The junior team also had a good season finale, finishing joint 9th with Hadleigh Hares in the League.

Harrison Leek (37th) again led the way with a strong performance in a big field 114.  He was followed by Katie Presland (58th) who also won her age category.  Harry Booty (106th), Megan Hughes (107th) and Tommy Colsell (108th) finished in quick succession to complete the scoring 5, with Angel Jasper (110th) swiftly following to complete a promising debut season.

Great Bentley now look forward to the spring and summer road racing season with confidence that the club is going from strength to strength.

By Matthew Knowles