U13 G Bmouth 2018

Tue 16th Oct 2018

Winchester's U11s, U13s & U15s turned out in big numbers for the Alton Sports Hampshire Cross-Country League opener, and were rewarded with several team wins and second-places.

Rain had been strongly forecast as the new cross-country season appeared set to kick-off with suitably seasonal weather. What WADAC's 60-strong junior squad in fact encountered as they travelled West down the M27, was holiday-resort conditions, with bright sunshine and, for mid-October, incredible heat.

A new crop of Under-11s started proceedings, with several runners making their WADAC debuts. In the girls' race, there were impressive runs from Poppy Taylor (7th) and Hannah Lowe (8th), and with Scarlett Anderson coming in 12th, this was enough to have placed WADAC as first team. Also running well for the team were Summer Curtis, Sara Bucci, Emily Phillips and Veronica Bucci.

In the boys' race, WADAC's Sam Nicholson contested the lead in a three-runner group from early on, and after being ahead for some of the race, finished in a very good third place. Sam was excellently supported by Casper Wilson (8th) and Ruben Price (14th), who between them aggregated a single point more than their Aldershot counterparts, thus being narrowly the second-placed team. Also impressing in the black & gold were Ethan Skipwith, Bradley Lewis, Oscar Coupe, Boaz Lurcock, Seth Noott, Felix Bowyer, Thomas Savill, Matthew Friend, Harry Gittins, Aiden Furby, Leo Williamson, Lucas Steel and Joey Hill. All-in-all a very satisfactory day for stand-in U11s manager Pete Curtis, and a clear endorsement of his now-legendary "no cake" policy.

The Winchester U13 girls have been in good form in training, and that was borne out on race-day with fourth team place. In a very closely-contested team race, in which the first seven finishers were all from different clubs, first home for Winchester was Emma Shedden (12th), closely followed by Jaz Jones (17th) and Lara Bassett (18th). They were ably supported by Aisling Hitchman, Safiya Husain, Phoebe McGee, Emily Staggs and Lauren McGee.

The race of the day from a WADAC perspective was the U13 boys, where from the off, we were involved in a neck-and-neck team tussle with our talented friends from Southampton AC. Both teams had three runners in the top seven throughout the race, but as they emerged from the woodland with about 800m to run, Southampton had held on to the one-point advantage that they had when disappearing from view a few minutes earlier. With 300m to go the situation remained unchanged, James Lewis led the race for WADAC, with Michael Shingleton-Smith in 4th and Ben Chesterfield 7th, but with Southampton in 2nd, 3rd and 6th, Winchester seemed destined for second-place, again by a single point. However, a few well-chosen words from his strategically-placed coach, Nick Anderson, seemed to spur Ben into early-sprint-mode, and he went suddenly from 7th to 5th whilst, simultaneously, Michael was producing an incredible sprint himself to deny the Southampton runner literally on the line, and claim 3rd place. With James holding on in typical style to his first place, what had moments earlier been a one point deficit was now, incredibly, a four point advantage and another team win to follow up the recent impressive silver medals in the Southern Road Relays. The trio were well backed-up by Stan Parkinson (10th), Tom Grote, Reuben Hobbs, Ben Hutchings,Teddy Creasy, Alex Nicholson, Matt Duckering, Ieuan Thomas, Adam Lee & Aymeric Truchon.

With last year's crop of U13 girls, who had finished the season so strongly, now transformed into lower-year U15s, the question inevitably was how well they could compete at the higher level and with the age disadvantage this time round. The answer was "very well indeed thanks" as the girls exceeded all expectations and took up where they'd left off several months earlier. Rose Chesterfield (4th), Amelia Moore (6th) and Hannah Foster (7th) ensured that the winning-run continued, followed closely by Millie Burgess, Ellie McErlean and Katie Nicholson, and despite the loss of Lily Neate who unfortunately had to withdraw mid-race through illness.

In the U15 boys' race, and competing against what has been for several seasons a hugely dominant AFD cohort, Winchester's runners did well to claim second team place in a tight contest among the next four clubs. Sam Roberts (14th) came to the fore as WADAC's first scorer, just ahead of his higher-ranked team-mate Doug Scally (18th) and the fast-improving Dominic Exworthy (23rd). These three upper-year runners were well supported by lower-year athletes Harry Harvey, Thomas Briggs, Connor Dutton, Matthias Truchon and Ben Schofield.

So with a very pleasing performance from the whole team, we now move on to the National XC Relays in Mansfield in early November, followed rapidly by the second Hampshire League event, at Aldershot a week later. Coaches and team-managers will be looking for another impressive Winchester turn-out at Aldershot, in what will undoubtedly be another very competitive set of races.