Four Suffolk junior boys to run for England Schools, led by champion Sullivan

Lewis Sullivan celebrates winning the junior boys' title at the English Schools Cross Country Champi

Lewis Sullivan celebrates winning the junior boys' title at the English Schools Cross Country Championships,held at Leeds on Saturday. Picture: ALISTAIR DICK - Credit: Archant

Suffolk’s junior boys had a sensational day at the English Schools Cross Country Championships.Carl Marston reports on a historic result

Suffolk's quartet of junior boys on the podium after their top-eight finishes at the English Schools

Suffolk's quartet of junior boys on the podium after their top-eight finishes at the English Schools event, from left: Oliver Hitchcock, Ben Peck, Lewis Sullivan and James Peck. Picture: ALISTAIR DICK - Credit: Archant

Lewis Sullivan spearheaded Suffolk’s junior boys’ team to a remarkable set of results at the annual English Schools Cross Country Championships, held in wet and windy conditions in Leeds on Saturday.

The richly talented Sullivan was crowned English Schools champion with a dominant run, so joining a select group of Suffolk runners to have won individual titles at these prestigious championships over the years.

But even more amazing was what happened behind him, with three team-mates all surging home in the top eight around a tough two-lap course within the grounds of Temple Newsam.

Ben Peck, who had won the under-13 title at the Inter-Counties Championships in Loughborough the previous weekend, finished an excellent third overall, another fantastic result when considered that he is in the bottom half of his age group.

Lewis Sullivan, left, in action in the junior boy's race on his way to victory

Lewis Sullivan, left, in action in the junior boy's race on his way to victory - Credit: Archant

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Older brother James Peck also impressed in seventh position, while Oliver Hitchcock was close behind in a marvellous eighth.

The top eight in each age group have been selected to run for England Schools in the annual Home Countries International in Dublin this weekend, so Suffolk will have four representatives in the junior boys’ squad.

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It is extremely rare for a county of any size to make up half a team at this Home Countries Schools event, let alone a county as small in population as Suffolk.

Sullivan has been bang in form this season, the 14-year-old from Moreton Hall, near Bury St Edmunds, winning the Anglian Schools Championships in Northampton at the start of February, before following this up with two fine fourth places in the bottom half of his under-15 age group at the English National Championships (at Harewood House, Leeds) and the Inter-Counties event (at Loughborough).

But there was no stopping Sullivan on Saturday.

“There was a group of four of us to start with, and I then took the lead at the start of the second lap, on an uphill section,” explained Sullivan, who is a member of Saint Edmund Pacers.

“I think it was quite unexpected that I should make the break so early, and I managed to gradually pull away. I started opening up quite a big lead, and I felt good and was feeling very confident.

“I had people around the course telling me that I had a 10 or 20-metre lead, and that really helped. I had family and friends cheering me on.

“It was windy and very muddy, and it rained hard throughout the race, but I think I thrive in these sort of conditions. I like it a lot.

“I was always aiming to win the race, and now it will be a great experience to run for England, and in the same team as several of my Suffolk team-mates.

“It was unbelievable for Suffolk to have four in the top eight. When I went into the tent to pick up my England Schools kit for the following weekend, they asked me what county I ran for, and when I said ‘Suffolk,’ they replied – ‘not another one!’

“I’ve trained really hard and it felt amazing to win. And I’m really excited to be running for England for the first time, and also to run abroad for the first time,” added Sullivan, who is a pupil at Sybil Andrews Academy.

Sullivan won by a nine-second margin in 13mins 23secs, with Northumberland’s Josh Blevins second (13:32) and fellow Suffolk runner Ben Peck third (13:41).

Sullivan and the two Peck brothers, who are both members of Thetford AC and pupils at Mildenhall College Academy, all train in the same training group on a Monday night at the West Suffolk Arena track, under the watchful eye of coach Martin Brophy. Hitchcock, meanwhile, is a member of Ipswich Harriers.

In the team stakes, Suffolk boys won the Sussex Trophy for Area C counties (similar populations).

Elsewhere Ruby Vinton, who won the Inter-Counties under-13 crown the previous weekend, ran bravely for 10th place in the bottom half of the junior girls’ age group.

Philippa Unthank ran well for 30th in the senior girls’ race.


Suffolk results at English Schools Cross Country Champs:

Junior boys: 1 L Sullivan 13:23; 3 B Peck 13:41; 7 J Peck 13:47; 8 O Hitchcock 13:51; 46 E Gladwell 14:33; 69 M Berry 14:42; 144 H Dinwoddy 15:10; 149 J Davison 15:11. Team: 1 Surrey 80pts, 2 Suffolk 134.

Junior girls: 10 R Vinton 10:52; 193 F Mann 12:05; 227 A Goddard 12:17; 268 F Aston 12:31; 297 M Lansdown 12:41; 300 A Bell-Cobbold 12:42; 318 N Ong 12:50; 336 C Gilbert 13:08. Team: 36 Suffolk

Intermediate boys: 29 W Lowden 17:57; 50 K Evans-Lombe 18:07; 70 T Henson 18:21; 75 C Wakefield 18:24; 125 F Adams 18:46; 178 C Turner 19:06; 224 D Fothergill 19:29; 262 S Burkitt 19:51.10 Suffolk.

Intermediate girls: 70 H Fisher 14:44; 74 A Hill 14:45; 182 M Dann 15:30; 211 M Salsby 15:43; 250 B Oram 16:03; 253 J Elmer 16:05; 305 R Morley 16:42. 32 Suffolk.

Senior boys: 91 J Pettersson 23:53; 104 N Goddard 24:07; 161 J Robson 24:45; 170 M Snowdon 24:51; 183 S Stevens 25:00; 213 R Handy 25:28; 252 S Quercia-Smale 26:01; 301 J Fletcher 28:14. Team: 27 Suffolk

Senior girls: 30 P Unthank 16:04; 64 Millie Jordan-Lee 16:35; 84 Maddie Jordan-Lee 16:55; 160 N Perry 17:57; 186 M Clarke 18:09; 219 S Barker 18:28; 230 G Linford-Wood 18:38; 283 M Cailes 19:40. Team: 16 Suffolk

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