Mon 11th Nov 2019
Winchester squad wins team events at every age group, as more than 100 of our juniors turn out for soggy home fixture
The Hampshire Cross Country League’s first visit to Sparsholt Agricultural College was a huge success, despite the downpours that continue to characterise this autumn’s XC racing. Meticulous event management by Club Secretary Stuart Horsewood and Head Course Planner David Vosser ensured that WADAC’s home fixture ran smoothly despite the incessant rain and the muddy conditions. An army of enthusiastic parent-helpers in key marshalling positions also meant that few, if any, juniors were mislaid in the Hampshire countryside (as far as we know).
For many of Winchester’s Under-11s, the home fixture provided the opportunity for their first ever race in club colours – and what an introduction. As the rain continued to fall and the temperature dropped, 62 of them took to the start-line, representing almost exactly half the total number of Under-11 starters from all clubs combined. In both girls’ and boy’s races though, it was an old-hand who led home the victorious WADAC teams.
Poppy Taylor had been edged into second place in the U11G race in round 1 at Bournemouth, but on home soil she ran the perfect race, sitting patiently behind her Southampton AC rival before storming clear in the last 200m to win. Poppy was again supported by the impressive Hannah Lowe (3rd) and Grace Baker (6th). They were followed by Ellie Jepson, making a noteworthy debut in 11th place and then an army of others in black and gold, too many to name here, but all listed in the results which can be accessed via the link at the bottom of this report.
In the U11B race, another perfectly-executed run saw Ethan Skipwith repeat his Wessex League win of six days earlier as he too eased away from the competition on the second lap to win comfortably. With Joe Hasan (4th, from lower year) and Casper Wilson (6th) providing another team win, and Seth Noott (7th), Oliver Corrie (9th) and Zac Reynolds (12th) also in the top dozen, this was another handy display of strength in depth from the home team, especially as they were followed by another 30+ clubmates, again all names shown in the full results.
The Under-13 girls race in round 1 had been a blot on WADAC’s copybook, with the club fielding only two runners and thus not recording a team score. Happily, that was corrected this time around, with the girls not only turning out in numbers, but taking a welcome third spot in the team competition. Zara Barker demonstrated her customary ability to work steadily through the field, and was first home for Winchester in 15th, just pipping team-mate Scarlett Anderson who again ran well, in 16th. Elreza Mulder (22nd), returning after illness, completed the scorers. Ella Stout, Millie Morgan, Katie Pugh, Maisie Curtis and Emily Machleidt all braved the worsening conditions and finished well, ensuring that the club was well represented this time.
Such is the fortunate embarrassment of riches currently available to WADAC in the Under-13 boys category that the team was able comfortably to withstand absence, mishap and off-day to three of its top four runners and still win the event by a distance. James Lewis had never been beaten in an age-group Hampshire League race before, but on Saturday the impressive Jon Pepin of Southampton AC finally broke that hoodoo, racing strongly from the start to take a deserved win. With James (2nd) and Stan Parkinson (3rd), as reliable as ever, it fell to Jack Moores (5th) and currently in great form, to complete the team after Will Hasan’s shoe and race chances disappeared in the Sparsholt mud on the final lap. Ruben Price (10th) also gave one of his best-ever performances, and with Tom Grote (12th), Ieuan Thomas (13th), Aiden Furby (14th) and Will Atkins (16th) again packing superbly, this WADAC team shows no signs of relaxing its grip any time soon. There was still room for Sam Wilkinson and Sam Nicholson to make the top-20 and another ten or so team-mates following them.
Arguably the most welcome team win of the day came from Winchester’s Under-15 girls. Beaten by a very strong Southampton team in round 1, and taking second only a point clear of Reading in third on that occasion, our girls this time got the better of their three-way contest to edge out both rival teams by a couple of points. Rose Chesterfield (3rd), Amelia Moore (5th) and Millie Burgess (9th) were the scorers and were again supported by Ellie McErlean (16th), with Aisling Hitchman (23rd) having her best run for some while. Lara Bassett, Jemima Hodges, Phoebe McGee and Freya Pope also showed up well in tough conditions and Emma Shedden finished bravely despite struggling with illness during the race.
Having finished a slightly disappointing fourth team at Bournemouth, WADAC’s Under-15 boys had amends to make, and happily were able to do so, this time finishing as second team behind Southampton’s strong cohort. Harry Wilson is going from strength to strength, and finished 5th from lower-year, with Ben Chesterfield (8th) also in the younger half of the age group and Harry Harvey (16th) completing the scorers. There were welcome returns to form for all three of the following Winchester runners, Thomas Briggs, Ben Schofield and Charlie Cox, while Connor Dutton, Alex Nicholson, William Thompson, Ben Hutchings and Oscar Watson completed the team on a much better day for their age-group.
The Under-17 girls again won their race with plenty of clear water and look set for a dominant season. Lily Neate (3rd), Isabella Beck (4th), Sasha Tydeman (7th), Aisling Dunne (8th), Hannah Foster (11th) and Katie Nicholson (21st) ensured that Winchester stayed top of the seasonal league table.
The Under-17 boys race was again of very high standard, with many of the country’s leading age-group runners in the field. For WADAC, Doug Scally (14th), Sam Roberts (20th) and Dominic Exworthy (25th), on his return from injury, finished fourth team on the day and were supported by James Medley (34th).
Thanks must go to Stuart, David and their team for their tireless work in making this event possible, as well as all those who helped out in testing conditions on the day. That includes the coaches and assistants who were there as always ensuring that the athletes reached the start-lines in thoroughbred condition.
We now move on to round 3 at Aldershot on the 30th November, when several of our age-group teams can look forward to building on the good work of Saturday, where we can reflect with pride on five team wins, one team second and one team third in the eight junior races.
Full results and some of Paul Hammond’s excellent pictures available here : https://www.hampshireathletics.org.uk/events/hxcl.html