THREE south Essex schools are preparing to do battle at the English Schools’ Athletics Championships Cross Country Cup final on Saturday.

Southend High School for Boys, Southend High School for Girls and The Eastwood Academy will travel to Sevenoaks School in Kent looking to return with silverware.

The local rounds of the competition attracted more than 1,680 teams from close to 580 schools across England, where they competed against other local schools in their county.

The leading teams from the competitions held in each county then went head-to-head in one of nine regional finals.

And while 18 schools from Basildon, Benfleet, Billericay, Hockley, Leigh, Rayleigh, Southend, Stanford-le-Hope, Westcliff and Wickford were involved when the Cross Country Cup got underway, just three south Essex schools remain in the hunt for victory.

And Southend High School for Boys headteacher Robin Bevan is looking forward to seeing his pupils in the hotly-contested Cross Country Cup final.

Bevan said: “For many school pupils, the prospect of reaching a national sporting final is just a dream. For the boys of Southend High School, it’s a dream that has – yet again – come true.

“It is the result of early morning training, disciplined practices and a healthy lifestyle.

“We’re delighted to have teams representing both age groups qualifying for the national trophy round, which includes the top 24 in the country.

“They have our best wishes for the final in Kent and the excellent professional support of our PE staff.”

Southend High School for Boys, who will be sending a boys team to the English Schools’ Athletics Championships Cross Country Cup final for a 20th consecutive year, will have representatives competing in the junior boys and intermediate boys categories.

They will be joined in both categories by athletes from The Eastwood Academy.

Southend High School for Girls will be taking part in the junior girls event, while they will also go head-to-head with The Eastwood Academy in the intermediate girls age group.

Each of the three schools - which will be competing in the Essex & Suffolk region category - will have teams comprising of six athletes.

The top four runners will count towards the points total.

The final school in each of the four Essex & Suffolk region’s categories is Upminster’s The Coopers’ Company and Coburn School.