FOR the first time ever, a Vale Royal Athletics Club team has won gold at the English National Cross Country Relays.

It was the under 15 girls’ A team of Hope Smith, Grace Roberts and Holly Weedall who wrote their names into the club’s history at a wet and muddy Berry Hill Park in Mansfield by finishing ahead of 97 teams from around the country.

They crossed the line 23 seconds clear of silver medallists Hallamshire Harriers to secure one of the three medals won by Vale Royal teams on Saturday.

Smith led the team off and battled through the mud to hand over to Roberts in 18th place.

She then cut through the field with the second-fastest leg time of the whole race and had moved up to second when Weedall took over, who then quickly took the lead and stormed clear with the third-fastest individual time to secure the gold medal for Vale Royal.

In the same age group, the boys came agonisingly close to emulating the girls.

They had to settle for silver but finished just two seconds adrift of winners South London Harriers, with Patrick Griffiths falling just short of chasing down the leaders on the final leg.

Dylan Carney opened up for the team and was up with the leaders before handing over to Jake Wilson, who worked his way from 12th to sixth by the time Griffiths took over.

Northwich Guardian:

The under 15 boys with their silver medals

Perhaps the most surprising performance came from the under 17 mens’ team, who ran superbly to claim a silver medal.

Will Ashfield and Ed Pettitt had got the team up to sixth position before Raif Serif stormed into the lead, but he was eventually overhauled by English Schools 3,000m champion Will Barnicoat of Windsor, Slough, Eton and Harrow AC.

Northwich Guardian:

The under 17 men with their medals