MORE than 250 young Cornish runners converged on Truro School on Saturday for the Cornwall Schools' Cross Country Championships.
Twenty-three schools and colleges from Callington in the east, to Cape Cornwall in the west entered the event, with the leading runners fighting for places in the Cornwall teams for the South West Schools' Championships in Bristol on Saturday week.
The day's first race of the eight race programme combined the Senior and International Girls, with the Senior favourite Issy Steele (Falmouth School) setting the early pace, ahead of the top Intermediates Molly Long (Truro School) and Charlotte Cayton-Smith (Newquay Tretherras).
The muddy course certainly made the conditions tough for the runners with Steele losing ground on the second lap, being passed by a strong running Long and then by training partner Cayton-Smith.
Long, on her home course, extended her lead towards the end, beating Cayton-Smith by a convincing 33 seconds, with another member of the Truro School squad, Yvonne Chart, finishing third.
In the Senior race, Steele continued to lose ground in the closing stages, as Alice Rogers (Callington School) swept past to claim the Senior Girls' title.
The combined Senior and Intermediate Boys' race provided the day's clearest winner, Callum Jones (Helston School), who hitting the front on the first of the three laps, building a lead of 42 seconds and crossing the finish line ahead of Tom Rawet (Truro and Penwith College), who was satisfied with his performance on his return from injury.
Another Helston runner, Andy Worden, held on to third place in the Senior event, although he was passed on the final lap by the Intermediate winner, Sam Lane de Courtin (Callington Community College).
Lane de Courtin cruised home ahead of runner up Ed Laslett (Truro School) and Ben Hicks (Richard Lander School).
The winning margins were much tighter in the four Junior and Year 7 races, with the eight seconds victory of Matthew Sole (Mullion School) in the Junior Boys' race being the widest.
Once the pace had settled Isaac Parker (Penrice School) found himself in the lead but as the race developed, the Penrice youngster sensed he was being very closely shadowed by Sole, who seemed content to bide his time and follow the muddy footprints of the leader.
With a few hundred metres remaining, the Mullion boy made a swift and decisive move, accelerating clear to clinch the title.
The final outcome in the Junior Girls' race also provided an exciting spectacle for the spectators with Ellie Ringwood (Mounts Bay Academy) striding in the lead on the first lap and holding off the challenge of Yoyo Barnsley (Truro High School) and Lily England (Bodmin College).
On lap two Ringwood began to slow, which was the sign for Barnsley and England to make their move, with Barnsley the first to pass Ringwood but then England stormed ahead of both runners and into the lead, which she held to the finish, out sprinting the Truro High School runner by six seconds.
The Year 7 races are always keenly contested, as was the case in this year's championships.
A quality quartet comprising the Truro School pair, Finn Birnie and Freddie Barham, James Greenwood (Wadebridge School) and Thomas Fisher (Penair School), led in the early stages, with Barham being the first to lose contact.
As the half way point approached, Fisher found pace a little too fast, leaving Birnie and Greenwood to fight for the title. Little separated this pair until the finish 300 metres, when Birnie, timing his finish to perfection, touched the accelerator and eased ahead, sprinting home by four seconds, with Fisher comfortable in third.
Risking a prediction, this team will take some beating in next week's South West Championship race.
The equivalent Girls' race proved to be the closest of the day and provided Truro School with their third individual championship.
The race was only ever going to be between two runners, Emily Becconsall (Truro School) and Elowen Penfold (Newquay Tretherras School) and it was the stronger finishing Becconsall who got the verdict but had to work hard for her two second winning margin.
In the team competitions, the eight team titles were shared between six different schools and colleges.
Host school, Truro School won the Year 7 Boys and Intermediate Girls team races and Bodmin College scooped both the Year 7 and Junior Girls titles.
There was one title apiece for Helston Community College (Senior Boys), Richard Lander School (Intermediate Boys), Penryn College (Junior Boys) and Truro and Penwith College (Senior Girls).