Loreto runners set for National Schools Cross Country finals

By David Prior at

Loreto Grammar School’s cross country runners will hope to go one better this year in the National Schools Cross Country finals in Sevenoaks.

Last year, Loreto’s Intermediate team came second in the blue ribbon meeting for young cross country runners and this year both the Junior team for years 7 and 8 and the Intermediate team for years 9 and 10 have qualified.

Loreto, acknowledged as one of the UK’s leading all girls’ sports schools, are former national champions.

Leading the way at the regional qualifiers in Sedbergh were team captains Aisling McHale, 12, from Altrincham who crossed the line first in the Junior Race and Jessica Spilsbury, 14, from Timperley, who broke the tape in the Intermediate race.

Back row (l to r) are the intermediate team of Amelia Smithers, Evie Craven, Hannah Camden, Katie Moss, Jessica Spilsbury, Siobhan Gregory, Rosie Sinclair and Caitlin Doohan. On the front row are the Junior team of Verity Charnley, Orla Flynn, Aisling McHale, Ella Gillespie, Louise Hobson, Grace Clancy and Sinead O’Driscoll

As well as their training programme at Loreto, both girls train three times a week – Aisling with Altrincham & District Athletics Club and Jessica at Sale Harriers – and have ambitions to run at international level. However they both know the National Schools’ Championships is a team event and it is the strength of the group that counts.

Aisling said: “We have a great team spirit and I feel proud to represent Loreto to continue the school’s great tradition.”

Jessica added: “I know I am running in the footsteps of some brilliant former runners and that’s very exciting. We are all great friends and we win and lose together.”

Six girls run in each age category with the first four counting so team orders are vital.

Loreto’s Grammar School’s Head of Physical Education, Catherine Ball, said: “In extremely tough muddy conditions we finished second in the regional qualifiers in each age category so the girls will have to step up a level when we travel down to Kent for the race on Saturday November 25, but they have shown they are made of the right stuff and I am expecting a strong showing from two outstanding and determined squads.”