Suffolk’s Ruby Vinton wins South of England Inter-County cross country title

Ruby Vinton, surging to victory in the minor girls' race at the Suffolk County Schools Series A Cham

Ruby Vinton, surging to victory in the minor girls' race at the Suffolk County Schools Series A Championships at Culford. She also won the South of England Inter-County title at Oxford on Saturday. Picture : RICHARD MARSHAM

The future looks bright, in terms of young runners bursting onto the scene at county and regional cross country championship level, as highlighted by the recent performances of Ruby Vinton.

It has already been a cracking season for Ruby, a pupil at Woodbridge School.

Fresh from victories at the recent English Schools Cross Country Cup Final, and also the Suffolk County Schools Series ‘A’ Championships, 11-year-old Ruby celebrated another notable win in Suffolk colours last Saturday.

Ruby had won the minor girls’ title at the previous weekend’s Suffolk Schools event at Culford School, winning by an impressive margin of 42 seconds, and she produced another terrific run to triumph at the South of England Inter-County Championships, held at Horspath Fields, in Oxford.

Ruby was again first home, competing for Suffolk in the under-13 girls’ race, held over a 3,000-metre course.

Her winning time of 11mins 14secs brought her home seven seconds ahead of runner-up Natalie Simmons (11:21), from Bedfordshire, with Hampshire’s Summer Woodhead in third (11:23).

Meanwhile, at the end of last month, Ruby was also in action at the final of the English Schools AA National Cross Country Cup, staged at Sevenoaks School in Kent, spearheading her Woodbridge School team in the junior girls’ age group.

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A terrific late sprint saw Ruby, who was a year younger than most of her competitors, surge through from seventh to snatch victory in the last 200 metres. Having powered into a medal-winning position, Ruby overhauled the leader (from Millfield School) in the final few metres to take an impressive victory.

Woodbridge School finished 23rd team on the day, with Amy Goddard (67th), Anna Jackson (115th) and Willa Cole (146th) joining Ruby in the scoring team. Ella Pitt (150th) and Iris Morton (152nd) also competed.

Back to last Saturday’s South of England Inter-County Championships, Suffolk had several other success stories at this Oxford-based event, not least in the minor boys’ age group.

In fact, Suffolk crammed their four scorers inside the top eight to win the team title, a fantastic achievement against such strong opposition.

Lewis Sullivan, who had won the county schools crown at Culford School the week before, led home the team in second spot.

Sullivan, a member of Saint Edmund Pacers, clocked 10:26 to finish just four seconds behind race-winner Zena Sacz, of Bedfordshire.

It was a very tight finish, with just seven seconds separating the top five. Matthew Blacklock (Essex) and Nicholas Hallan-Ellidge (Sussex) were both awarded the same time (10:27) in third and fourth respectively, with James Peck finishing Suffolk’s second scorer in fifth (19:29).

Suffolk’s winning quartet was completed by Elliot Gladwell and Oliver Hitchcock, who were seventh and eighth respectively in the same time of 10:33.

Suffolk therefore topped the team standings with just 22 points, ahead of runners-up Surrey (39).

Also in the under-13 boys’ race, Suffolk ‘B’ team were 17th, comprising Max Berry (33rd), Ben Peck (72nd), Ryan Grady (84th) and Max Fisher (88th).

Inspired by Ruby Vinton’s individual victory, Suffolk finished ninth team in the under-13 girls’ section, with Lila Battell (45th), Lorna Coull (54th) and Amy Goodard (78th) supporting Vinton in the scoring quartet.

Suffolk ‘B’ team were 22nd, thanks to the efforts of Chloe Gilbert (82nd), Eva Marshall (83rd), Efion Aston (104th) and Harriet Dovey (113th).

In the under-15 girls’ event, Suffolk were ninth, spearheaded by Holly Fisher (13th in 15:03), April Hill (23rd in 15:22) and Kate Challinor (28th in 15:29). The team was closed out by scorer Mia Dann (75th in 16:17). Also competing for Suffolk in this age group were Poppy Branton (83rd), Chloe Cavill (93rd) and Rose Branton (117th).

Suffolk were 15th team in the under-15 boys’ race. Ben Bayley led the way in 28th spot, backed up by Charlie Turner (45th), Tom Henson (77th) and Tom Frohn (88th). Franek Ouko (102nd), Anton Avis (104th) and Joe Webb (109th) were also in action.

Nathan Goodard (26th in 15:46) and Matt Snowden (28th in 15:47) led Suffolk to 12th position in the under-17 men’s race. Jack Grady (71st) and Reuben Handy (75th) also scored. The ‘B’ team of Sam Stevens (77th), Thomas Abbott (82nd), Leon Dix (96th) and Adam Wood (97th) finished 19th team.

Alice Goodwin (60th) and Angela Joiner-Handy (66th) were in the senior women’s field.

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