Hercules Wimbledon AC round-up: Senior men win silver at South of England Cross Country Championships

After waiting 49 years for their first South of England Cross Country Championships medal, Hercules Wimbledon ensured two came in quick succession as they upgraded 2023 senior men bronze to 2024 silver thanks to an unprecedented showing of depth, writes George Mallett.

Hercules have developed a habit of performing well on the regional circuits, with the senior men on track for a third consecutive Surrey League title but an outing with the best in the south over eight-and-a-half miles always raises the stakes.

As the early offing saw the yellow-and-red vests in packs towards the front end of the Beckenham Place Park race, early hopes looked promising but many athletes were biding their time.

GB international Stu McCallum spent the early stages in the mid-20s before progressing through the field to finish 11th.

When former cross-country captain Fred Slemeck joined the club in the early 2010s, any idea of area medals seemed fanciful. The Southfields-based club finished 13th in 2016, but gradually he has been at the core of their rise. Saturday was no different, Slemeck closed fast to secure a positional best of 15th and his third consecutive top 20 in the championship race.

Four of last year’s medallists, the first for the club since 1974, made the scoring six. George Mallett was next home in 22nd, a fraction ahead of cross-country captain James Stockings in 25th, with Ed Mallett 32nd.

With Highgate Harriers well in front in the team competition and a silver seemingly secure for Hercules, next up came a battle for their sixth and final scorer. Henry Silverstein, a top-20 finisher in all the Surrey League fixtures so far, took that mantle, finishing 40th, nine seconds and one place in front of a fast-finishing Richard McDowell, with Alex Sutton hot on his heels in 44th.

Never before have the club had eight in the top 50, even when they won the competition in 1970. With Rhys Boorman 76th and Archie Walton 82nd it was an unprecedented 10 in the top 100.

The club’s U13 boys quartet took team bronze. Theo Creed and James Fraser, in fifth and tenth respectively, set the foundations with Max Harrison (61st) followed by Thomas Hennigan (65th).

The U15 girls were fifth, led home by Isabella Harrison in 18th, with Otelia Garcia-Davis not far behind in 25th. With Ava Mcandie in 58th and Isabelle Sparkes 65th, they finished 43 points from the podium.

The U13 girls were sixth. Freia Harper-Tee finished 25th with Alexandra Bramwell (42nd), Freya Mcandie (65th) and Beatrice Eminson (66th) making up the scoring quartet.

Benjy Street was 10th in the U17 men’s race, backing up an impressive fifth place in the Surrey County Championships earlier this month.

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