READING Athletic Club’s youngsters produced some very creditable performances at the South of England Cross Country Championships held in Stanmer Park, Brighton on Saturday.

However, injury and illness weakened the squad, with the Under 15s finishing 14th and the U13s 23rd. The U17s were unable to field a full team.

In the 3km U13 race on the hilly two-lap course, Ollie Craggs with a fast start put himself into a splendid sixth place on the first lap, but despite his best efforts the early pace took its toll and he slipped back to 14th place at the finish in a time of 10m 26secs.

Nevertheless, in a race with almost 300 competitors, this was another impressive run by Craggs.

Second home for Reading was Charlie Rickards, with a strong effort for 118th position in 11.46, while not far behind was Aidan Marshall, who hung on well for 142nd place, recording 11.58.

Elio Babb won the contest with George Urwin-Mann to complete the scoring team, as they finished in 197th and 202nd positions with times of 12.29 and 12.32 respectively, while Adam Tivey persevered for 238th place in 13.08. Reading’s total of 471 gave them a respectable 23rd place in the team competition.

For the U15s in their 4.5km race, Tom Rickards led the side home, running in the first 50-odd during the first lap, before a fast finish took him to 43rd place in a time of 15.35.

Mattie Raynor had been not far behind Rickards for most of the race, but a fall on the downhill stretch towards the finish left him in 69th position with 15.54.

Third home for Reading was Ben McCabe, who came through strongly in the closing stages to finish 132nd in 16.43, while Olly Moor and Laurie Baker fought almost to the line for the team’s final scoring place, with the former finishing 143rd in 16.56, and Baker 145th in 16.58.

Just behind them came Sam Kral-Waters with a determined effort for 149th position in 17.01, and Dominic Parsons kept going well to finish 208th in 18.20.

The team results saw Reading finish 14th with 387 points.

Several late withdrawals unfortunately left a potentially very strong U17 team with only three competitors, but all of them did well in their 6km race.

Eddie Steveni ran with his usual determination to finish 27th in a time of 21.26, Joseph Mott’s strong running earned him 54th place in 22.13, and Ben Rollings confirmed his recent improved form with 59th position, recording 22.19.