SWINDON Harriers fired a warning to their rivals that they will be the team to catch in the race for promotion in the Oxfordshire Cross Country League this season.

The club’s senior men were determined to make a big statement in the opening fixture at the Newbury Showground, and they did that with interest as they swept aside their opponents with a superb display of power running.

Nyle Clinton, who has returned to his home in Swindon after finishing his studies at Bradley University in America, led the way in fourth placce, and was superbly supported by Sergio Martinez-Gonzalez in fifth and Simon Byrne in ninth, with Chris Reade, junior Ethan Pierce and Luke Byrne completing the scoring.

That gave the Harriers a total of 89 points which was a massive 270 points clear of nearest rivals Witney, with Abingdon B another 200 points adrift in third.

Harriers club chairman and coach Bryan Clinton said: The senior men were brilliant.

“We placed our first seven runners in the top 20, so we walked away with first place in Division Two.

“In fact, the boys were so dominant that they beat the best score in Division One (Abingdon with 106 points), so that is a real measure of our quality.”

Still settling back into the domestic cross country scene – races in America were inevitably held over super fast golf course-type terrain – Clinton will only get better, while Martinez-Gonzalez continued his recent good form and will be pushing his team-mate for the remainder of the campaign.

Bryan Clinton, who is also Nyle’s father, added: “Nyle has been training hard and putting in the miles and he needed that race so it was a good work-out for him.

“We also had new signing Courtenay Chessell making his debut and he looks a very promising runner.

“We were hoping for a good start and the boys delivered, and I think promotion is the absolute minimum we are targeting now.”

In the young athletes’ races, Harriers athletes were also to the fore. In the U13 boys’ event, Fletcher Hart impressed with a hard-earned second place as he led the Harriers to top spot by just one point.

In support of Hart, James Bagot was fourth and Samuel Rai came 10th to give the Harriers 16 points to edge out Radley by the tightest of margins in a thrilling contest that looks set to continue throughout the winter.

There was also a closely fought contest in the combined U17/15s boys’ race, with the Harrier trio of Patrick Mochan (third), Harry Woods (10th) and Ben McIntyre (11th) scoring 24 points to finish third behind Radley (16 points) and Banbury (17 points).

Impressively, the Harriers also finished two further teams, with the B squad eighth and the C squad 14th.

In the female equivalent, there was also a close contest between the Harriers, Oxford City and Abingdon, with the Swindon team of Lavinia Rai, Rachel Oram and Kelly Mari-Marsh taking third.

The talented pair of Ella Spencer and Khaya Swaine finished second and third respectively in the U11s race, while Maisie McCalla was the leading runner in the U13s as she placed 10th.

Club chairman Clinton added: “Overall, it was great turnout by the club for the first fixture and there were a lot of very impressive performances”