On Sunday 6th March 2022, 8 young Aysgarthians travelled down to Malvern College for the National Prep Schools Cross Country Championships.This is the first time in our school history that we have entered this prestigious event and competed on the National stage. With over 200 runners in each of the two races for the U11 and U13's, involving a total of 60 schools, we as a team, have been aiming to achieve great things on this event since the start of the academic year. There is a real drive amongst the staff to give the boys the opportunities of a lifetime and this event is the pinnacle of Prep School Cross Country - there is no greater sporting event for school boys than National Finals!
The message given to the boys on the bus from the hotel to Malvern College on the day was to 'always dream big, work harder than everyone else, and one day, it will happen!'. Well today was the day for one particular young man. I am delighted to share with you that Hugo B has become the National Prep Schools Cross Country Champion for the U13 Boys 2022 with an astronomical time of 11 minutes and 3 seconds on a 3.2km course. What Hugo has achieved this afternoon is something that he and his family will remember for a lifetime, as he triumphs on a national stage in front of hundreds of people, including 240 boys in his race, involving a total of 60 schools from all over the country.
As I'm writing this match report, a tear is dropping down on the keypad - this is one of the greatest individual sporting achievements you can achieve for a 12/13 year old boy at school boy level. I'm so proud of him for all the hard work and dedication he has made to 'go all the way' to become a National Prep School Champion! Hugo certainly went above and beyond, dug deep and when the going got tough, he had the mental toughness to never give up as he was overtaken half way through the course by a boy from Great Walstead School, Sussex. Hugo could have easily backed off the pace and thrown in the towel but what I admire so much about Hugo is, he always gives his all right until the end - never gives up! I fully remember Hugo telling me in October/November time that he was willing to do anything to win this event although he knew it wasn't going to be easy. Yesterday's achievement would not have happened if he didn't put in the hours and hard work along the way to be crowned National Champion. Whenever you see Hugo around school please stop to congratulate him - it is extremely rare to be a National champion - he fully deserves every bit of praise that comes along his way.
To reach the top 50 in the country is an outstanding achievement in itself - well done to Charlie Dobson (32rd), Toby Speir (47th) for U13's and Rollo Hoskyns-Abrahall (24th) for the U11's. It is clear that these 3 boys have worked exceptionally hard in their spare time to train for this event and have been phenomenal throughout the course of the season and fully deserve this accolade on the national stage. I am delighted for Charlie and Toby - they are fantastic Aysgarthian's on and off the sports field. I have every confidence that these two boys will really kick on at their next Senior School if they still wish to compete and run as they both have huge potential in the sport, as long as they 'keep up the good work'! So proud of both of these boys - well done. I am absolutely delighted for Rollo - the 2.8km course doesn't sound like a huge amount but this course was tough for the U11's, in fact, very tough - no flat! It is very challenging for a boy to run this course at the age of 10 or 11 years of age and to finish 23rd in the country out of 220 boys is a fantastic achievement - well done Rollo! He has a big future in the sport and will look forward to competing again at Malvern over the next 2 years during his time at Aysgarth, and he certainly has potential to reach a top 10 finish in 2023 and 2024 which is something he should target for.
As a team the U11's finished 23rd in the country out of 55 schools who entered - outstanding achievement on such a difficult course. The U13's achieved a staggering 6th overall in the country on the National stage. As a team this result will be very tough to beat for many years to come, and I am so proud of the boys involved. To finish in the top 10 is so tough but to finish 6th is absolutely outstanding!
Well done to the Cross Country team on this day - we are all very proud of your achievements and you are a real credit to the school: U13 - Hugo Berry, Charlie Dobson, Toby Spier & Oscar Firth; U11 - Rollo Hoskyns-Abrahall, Henry Keigwin, William Battersby & Albert Tootal. Thank you to Hugo, Oscar, Charlie and Toby for all your efforts and achievements along the way this season - you will certainly go down in the Aysgarth School 'Hall of Fame' on the cross country front and I really hope you have found a passion for running throughout your time at Aysgarth School as our cross country season draws to a close. Please keep up the good work by running for fun or competing for your Senior School over the coming years, and more importantly, post schooling for your own physical and mental wellbeing over the course of your lifetime.
Director of Sports