Priory stars set to take on the best in country
THREE Reigate Priory runners make their debuts at the English Schools Championships on Friday and Saturday.
They are in a 60-strong Surrey team, including more seasoned English Schools performers Jacob Paul, from Banstead, and Oxted School pair Rachel Dickens and Oliver Newport, who will be eyeing gold.
Coach Stewart McIntyre hopes Priory's Niamh Brown (U15 1,500m) and Alice Chandler (U17 800m) can reach finals, while Laura Gent's (U19 3,000m) aim is the top six of her straight final.
"They are all first years in their age-groups," said McIntyre. "It would be a feat for Niamh to reach the final. She's ranked 13th in the country and 12 go into the final.
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"If she puts in a personable best and gets a place in the final, we will all be delighted.
"She's had a terrific year, the highlight being second in the London mini-marathon," he said of the St Bede's pupil who was fifth in the English Cross-Country Championships.
Brown added: "At the beginning of the track season my aim was to get into English Schools. Now I'm hoping to reach the final and run a PB. I'm really looking forward to it as it is my first time."
Some of her toughest competition could come from Surrey team-mates Katie Shiel-Rankin, the county champion and favourite, and Daisy D'Santos.
"I kind of know I won't beat Katie," she said, "but I usually beat Daisy."
County 800m U17 champion Chandler, of Reigate School, is ranked 27th.
Reigate Grammar School's Gent, a second claim Priory runner who trains with Aldershot a couple of times a week, is ranked 19th nationally and represented GB at the world schools cross country championships in March.
Previous medallist Newport is top ranked in long jump, while Paul, then an U17, won the title in each of the past two years. Dickens won 300m U17 gold last year, and is ranked third nationally at 400m. All are first year U19s.
Warlingham School's Emma Fossett, ranked 12th nationally in U15 javelin, is also competing.