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McKenzie gets high jump gold as Stratford competes in county schools championships

AFTER a long winter's and spring training, Stratford AC took part in the County Schools Championships, which are the first step towards the English Schools National Championships, and over 40 Stratford junior athletes were selected to compete in their respective county championships; Warwickshire, Gloucestershire and Worcestershire, writes Sam Swanepoel.

After trials, athletes were selected to represent their area, which is a feather in their cap to start with. The County Championships are a gateway for junior athletes to represent their respective area at the various inter county champs.

For those who do well they can be selected for the prestigious Inter County Championships, which are a major stepping stone towards the possibility of being selected for the ESAA Championships assuming they reach the stringent ESAA entry standards. This is the pathway we set ourselves and work towards at the beginning of the season.

After the trials in local schools 39 athletes were selected to represent South Warwickshire schools in the inter area championships with a couple more in the Central area at Leamington.

Up and away... Olisa Odiamma McKenzie.
Up and away... Olisa Odiamma McKenzie.

Ruby Edwards and Ella Smith went to the Gloucestershire Championships and Luca de Freitas Pires and Ethan Winning competed in the Worcestershire Championships at Stourport.

Amongst the many excellent performances across the three championships, Alex Wood broke the Warks county schools’ junior boys 300m record with a dominant run finishing in 38.8s. He has the ESAA entry standard from previous races.

Olisa Odiamma McKenzie produced a leap of 1.72m to win the junior boys High Jump, achieving the ESAA entry standard in the process.

The Lambert brothers Sam and Zac dominated their respective races with Sam winning the 800m in a time 1.59.7 and was followed home by James Day 2.09.2 and Josh Davis 2.10.2 for a 1-2-3. Sam also has the ESAA ES from an earlier race.

Another 1-2-3 came in the Inter boys 3000m with Zac winning in 9.09.2 followed by Will Mayes in 9.28.0 and Tom Fisher in 9.34.2.

Seb Hillard is on the comeback trail after fracturing his ankle earlier in the year and he won the Inter boys 100m hurdles in a time of 14.5s and his training partner Toby Thomas finished 3rd after knocking nearly a second off his PB.

Will Hovell won the junior boys 800m in a time of 2.08.0 but he also continued his odyssey in the Pole Vault finishing 2nd in his first competition with a “modest” but promising 2.40m.

Olisa Odiamma McKenzie on the podium.
Olisa Odiamma McKenzie on the podium.

Afterwards The South’s Team Manager Jamie Powell from Alcester Academy said “our athletes did a fabulous job finishing second in the Inter age group and winning the Juniors. Also, we were the only area with Seniors involved (all Stratford AC athletes), so you could say we won that too, although there's no trophy!

After their performances in the 3 championships, 14 Stratford athletes were selected to represent their counties in their respective Inter County Championships. These competitions are only just one down from the national ESAA champs and so represent a big step up in the level of competitors that are involved.

Ella Smith and Ruby Edwards travelled to Exeter for the South West Championships representing Gloucestershire against Dorset, Wiltshire, Avon, Devon, Somerset and Cornwall.

The rest of the Stratford contingent competed In Stoke in the Masons Trophy for either Herefordshire & Worcestershire or Warwickshire against Greater Manchester, Cheshire, Staffordshire, Shropshire, Nottinghamshire, Northamptonshire, Derbyshire and the West Midlands

Amongst some good performances and personal bests, the stand out medal performances came from Olisa Odiamma McKenzie winning gold in the junior boys High Jump with 1.71, Will Hovell winning silver in the JB Pole Vault with 2.20m and another entry standard performance from Alex Wood winning bronze in the JB 300m in 37.94.

The final comments come from Gwil Price the Warwickshire Team manager: “A very proud Warwickshire Schools A.A. 'Champion County for the 2nd year running!”

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