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19 Nov Liverpool Cross Challenge & Euro Trials // Eightlane Preview & Predictions – U20s

Ian Bailey came from behind to win the Liverpool Cross Challenge last year whilst defending champion Emelia Gorecka successfully retained her title following a close finish with Jenny Walsh that saw the pair credited with the same finishing time.

The following month in Budapest, Gorecka took home individual silver at the European XC Championships as she led home a gold medal-winning junior women’s team featuring Annabel Mason, Jenny Walsh, Jessica Judd, Alex Clay and Rhona Auckland. The junior men’s side, which included trials winner Bailey, Kieran Clements, Charlie Grice, Charlie Hulson, Luke Traynor and William Paulson packed well to win team bronze.

The Mick Woods-coached Gorecka lines up the big favourite again this weekend whilst Jonny Davies has enjoyed a similarly strong start to his winter campaign and should be looking to take home his first Liverpool Cross Challenge & Euro Trials crown. The first five across the line gain automatic selection for Belgrade.

Junior Women

Emelia Gorecka

• Emelia is the overwhelming favourite for the junior title.
• Her recent performances have shown that she is in top form going into the trials. She ran the quickest leg at the National Cross Country Relays, bringing home the gold medal for the AFD junior side.
• Also, mixing it with the seniors, Emelia ran the 2nd quickest leg behind Gemma Steel at the National Road Relays.

Lydia Turner

• Lydia’s highest position over the cross country last year was 4th at the Inter Counties.
• At the first cross challenge in Bristol she came 1st in the under 17 age group.
• Her most recent performance was at the National XC Relays where she ran the quickest leg. The under 17 girls ran the same distance as the junior women Lydia would had been the 3rd quickest behind Gorecka and Griffiths.
• Even though Lydia is an under 17 she is still able to compete at the Europeans if she places in the top 6 at the trials.

Bobby Clay

• Bobby has progressed through the under 13 ranks to under 17 very successful over cross country.
• Last year she finished in an automatic qualifying slot but she was too young to compete at the Europeans.
• Her cross country performances over the years have been impressive. Last season she won the Southerns, opted against the Nationals and then finished 2nd behind Gorecka at the Inter Counties, which gained her automatic selection to represent Great Britain at the World Cross Country champs (where she came back with a gold team medal and finished a creditable 27th).
• Bobby is yet to compete over the cross country this year so her fitness is unknown to her rivals. If Bobby competes then it will be a great battle between herself and Lydia Turner for the under 17 title and a team slot.

Rebecca Weston

Screen Shot 2013-11-19 at 23.09.55• Rebecca was part of the team that won gold at the World XC Championships. In her first major championship she finished 33rd.
• Her cross country results were very solid last year, finishing second at the Southerns and third at the Nationals. She placed fifth at the Inter Counties.
• Track performances were also impressive this year where she broke 16 minutes for 5k, finished 2nd to Gorecka in the under 20 rankings and went on to finish 4th at her first European track championships.
• Invicta didn’t race at the National Road or XC Relays and Rebecca’s only performance so far this winter has been in the Kent League, where she won by 1 minute 25 seconds.

Amy Griffiths

• So far this winter Amy’s performances have been very consistent. She was part of the AFD B team at the National Road Relays, finishing in the top 10 on leg one and running one of the quickest times of the day by an under 20.
• At the Bristol Cross Challenge, Amy finished third behind Alex Clay and Georgia Malir.
• Her most recent performance was at the National XC Relays where she helped the AFD junior girls retain their title. Amy ran the quickest leg for her stage and was second quickest overall; only 3 seconds adrift of Gorecka.

Alex Clay

• Alex has started her cross country campaign successfully, winning the U20 age group at the Bristol Cross Challenge and most recently the Kent League (by 51 seconds).
• Last year Alex was 7th at the European trials but this will be her first year as an under 20.
• Alex had a very successful winter last year – she placed second at the Southerns, third at the Nationals and came sixth at the Inter Counties, gaining a spot for the World XC (where she went on to finish 35th).

Georgia Taylor-Brown

Screen Shot 2013-11-19 at 23.37.44• A talented triathlete but yet to race over cross country this season.
• Made the World XC team in March and went on to place 17th in Poland.

Others who could cause an upset:
Grace Baker – recently won an international meet in Spain and has GB experience from the Edinburgh international.
Georgia Malir – finished second at the Bristol Cross Challenge and won the Northerns at the beginning of year.
Becky Straw – showed some encouraging performances early-season but hasn’t raced since the National Road Relays.
Jess Judd – it’s unknown whether Jess will contest over the cross country this year or whether her focus will be on the indoor season. If she races then she will be one of the favourites to make the team.

Junior Men

Jonathan Davies

• Big favourite to win this weekend.
• Finished seventh last year and then went on to win the Inter Counties title in February as a first-year junior (going on to place 35th at the World XC Champs).
• Jonny enjoyed success this summer, winning European Junior 5000m bronze.
• Has shown great form already this winter with victory at the Bristol Cross Challenge and at the Internacional Cross de Soria in Spain earlier this month.
• Ran the fastest leg in the junior race at the National XC Relays.

Lewis Lloyd

• Lewis didn’t compete in Liverpool last year but finished 4th at the Inter Counties to qualify for the World XC in Poland, where he went on to finish 77th.
• Finished 3rd in the Surrey League fixture at Mitcham Common two weeks ago in his first cross country of the winter, behind only Frank Tickner & John Gilbert.

Michael Callegari

Screen Shot 2013-11-19 at 23.35.03• Michael finished 22nd as a first-year under 20 last year but went on to enjoy an impressive winter post-Christmas.
• Finished 3rd at the Southerns, 2nd at the National XC and 5th at the Inter-Counties to book his spot to Bydgoszcz, where he placed 37th (and 2nd highest Brit just three secs behind Davies).
• The summer proved successful as Michael placed 4th at the Euro Junior 5000m final and beat Davies at English Schools 3000m
• Recent races suggest he is in good form, running faster this year than last at the National XC Relays before a 6th place finish in Soria.

Gordon Benson

• Gordon finished second (behind Davies) at the Inter-Counties back in March, going on to finish 58th in Bydgoszcz.
• In his first year as an under 20, Gordon finished 12th in Liverpool, just twenty one seconds off a top-6 spot.
• Hasn’t raced over cross country so far this winter but showed his form last weekend at the Leeds Abbey Dash, where he ran a PB of 30:25 to finish 25th and first U20.

Robbie Farnham-Rose

Screen Shot 2013-11-19 at 23.08.59• After a year studying in America, Robbie has returned to England to study at St Mary’s in a bid to reach his full potential.
• The winter has started well, with Robbie anchoring Tonbridge to team gold at the National XC Relays before winning the Kent League fixture two weeks ago.
• Finished 8th as a first-year under 20 in Liverpool.

Other names in the frame:
Matt Shirling – finished second to Davies in Soria two weeks ago and ran 5th fastest at National XC Relays.
Liam Dee – 3rd fastest at National XC Relays and a top-10 Met League finish so far this winter.
Calum Johnson – started this winter well with 5th fastest leg at National XC Relays & 7th place in Soria this month.
Alex Short – led the second Met League fixture in Stevenage before being pipped by Frank Baddick at the finish.

Words: Tasha Doel & Chris Rainsford