While Hercules Wimbledon Athletic Club’s senior men’s cross-country runners tightened their grip on the Start Fitness Surrey Cross Country League Division One title on Mitcham Common, two of the club’s young guns picked up medals at the South of England indoor championships on an outstanding weekend for Hercules Wimbledon, writes Tom Pollak.
After the disappointment of failing to retain their Surrey cross country team title at Croydon the previous weekend, the senior men showed their mettle by bouncing back in style.
Going into the penultimate league match of the season with a comfortable lead over reigning champions Kent AC, and with only Ben Toomer, Ross Matheson, Jonny Earl and Howard Caske missing from the line-up of 41 Hercules Wimbledon runners, confidence was high that the club would stay unbeaten.
From the outset, the Hercules Wimbledon contingent took a firm hold on the team contest and, at the end of the first of three, mainly flat, parkland laps, the yellow and red sash-vested runners filled five of the top 14 places. Short of a disaster, the team contest was virtually decided.
Leading the challenge were Andrew Penney and Andy Greenleaf, who next time round were in fifth and eight place.
Penney, who benefitted from not running in the previous weekend’s Surrey championships, dug in and managed to race through on the final lap to finish third in 27:01.
Greenleaf (27:48) finished seventh, followed home by Fred Slemeck (14th in 27:45), Richard McDowell (15th in 27:48), Tom Jervis (16th in 27:49), Finn Johnson (18th in 27:54), Jonny Cornish (20th in 28:06), Rhys Boorman (22nd in 28:19), Belal Ahmed (23rd in 28:21) and Zac Purnell (28:38) – the top U20 runner, who is aiming to run for Surrey in March’s UK Inter-Counties championships.
Hercules Wimbledon ran out comfortable winners: 1 Hercules Wimbledon 171; 2 Thames Hare and Hounds 246; 3 Kent AC 246.
Hercules Wimbledon go into the final match at Croydon on February 9 with a comfortable 216-point lead and are aiming to make history, as the club, formed in 1967 by the merger of the former Hercules and Wimbledon clubs, has never won the Surrey League title. The former Hercules club took the honours in 1965.
Eleven Hercules Wimbledon runners took part in the young athletes race over 4km, with Hector Revill the leading finisher taking 18th place in the U17 category in 14:22.
Meanwhile, 12-year-old Mabel-Rose Scales won the gold medal in the South of England indoor U13 girls high jump championship at Lee Valley on Sunday, with a personal best of 1.52 metres.
It added two centimetres to her PB, set at Crawley last August, and equalled at Lee Valley the previous weekend.
Mabel-Rose, who is coached by former international high jumper Trevor Whittle, topped the UK girls’ U12 high jump rankings last year and Putney High School awarded her a sports scholarship last September. Her father John was a member of Wimbledon Football Club’s FA Cup-winning team in 1988.
Jaleel Roper celebrated his 15th birthday five days earlier by posting a PB indoor time of 22.65 in taking the silver medal in the U17 200m, improving on his 22.87 set in the England indoor championships in Sheffield last February.
He reached the final by winning his heat and semi-final in 23.15 and 22.96. He suffered heartbreak in his favoured 60m on Saturday when he was disqualified for a false start.
Elsewhere, almost 40 Hercules Wimbledon runners were in action in various parkruns, with Claire Grima the second woman home at Bushy Park in 18:13.
Adam Harwood led in 19 Hercules Wimbledon runners on Wimbledon Common, finishing fifth in 18:18. Teenager Ellen Weir posted the top women’s age-graded effort, finishing second in 20:24.
Georgina Clarke continued her injury comeback by winning her age category in the Fulham Palace parkrun in 20:43.
Pictured above: Andrew Penney (left) and Andy Greenleaf who, finishing third and seventh, led the Hercules Wimbledon team to victory