Tue 14th Jan 2020

For the second season running, the Under-13 boys and Under-15 girls teams clinch county league gold, while the Under-17 women also secure their series win. James Lewis and Lily Neate both make sure of individual gold medals for the campaign.

The fourth of five matches in this season’s Hampshire Cross-Country League was, for the third year running, scheduled for Prospect Park, Reading. The ground was cloggy and a bitterly cold wind blew in from the South West as the Under-11 boys got proceedings underway. Winchester had been the team victors in all three of the previous fixtures, and despite the absence of in-form Ethan Skipwith, the 100% record was comfortably maintained here as Casper Wilson (4th), Seth Noott (5th), Luke Furby (6th), Joe Hasan (7th), Oliver Foden (8th) and Tom Pate (10th) packed magnificently, the more impressive as Luke, Oliver and Tom were all featuring in the top-ten for the first time. Dara McErlean and Tom Price also ran well for WADAC.

The Under-11 Winchester girls also had a season’s 100% winning record to defend, but in the event were edged into second by the narrowest of margins, finishing on 23 points apiece with the strong Fleet & Crookham trio. Although it marked the end (just) of the winning run, this was still an excellent team performance, as WADAC were missing several of their squad. Chloe Poore carried on where she’d left off at the County Championships a week earlier, running just off the leading two to finish a comfortable 3rd, and with Grace Baker again a dependable 6th and Ellie Jepson 14th, strength in depth is looking very encouraging for this cohort. Izzy Hastie, Sara Bucci and Veronica Bucci were the next team home for WADAC, all running strongly.

Poppy Taylor was one of the names missing from the Winchester U11 girls squad, but only because she was stepping up for the day to run instead in the Under-13 girls race. And she gave notice of what that age group can expect from her over the next two years with a storming 8th place finish. With Zara Barker (12th) having her best race of the season and a good comeback run from Elreza Mulder (15th), the Winchester girls found themselves in the heady position of second team on the day. In a season where little has gone right for this WADAC group, it was a very welcome reminder of what they can do when things fall into place for them. Rebecca Hutchings and Millie Morgan also finished well.

The WADAC Under-13 boys have completely dominated their league this season, and sealed their second consecutive seasonal title here with their first 1-2-3 finish of the campaign, in the forms of James Lewis, Stan Parkinson and Jack Moores. In the process, James clinched the individual aggregate gold medal, also for the second year running. With Will Hasan (7th) and Will Atkins (10th) giving Winchester half of the top-ten, and Tom Grote, Ruben Price, Ieuan Thomas, Sam Nicholson and Reuben Hobbs making that half of the top-twenty too, prospects for this squad continue to look rosy. Aiden Furby, Haydn Moore and Matthew Friend added further strength to the team’s performance.

Also out to secure a second title in a row were the Winchester under-15 girls, and with Rose Chesterfield (3rd), Amelia Moore (5th) and Millie Burgess (9th) all making the top-ten, this was duly achieved with room to spare. Ellie McErlean, Emma Shedden and Aisling Hitchman all finished in good places to cement the team’s achievement.

The Under-15 boys were without this season’s top point-scorer Harry Wilson, but rallied strongly to finish third team on the day, with Ben Chesterfield (9th), Harry Harvey (12th) and Tom Briggs (18th) in the scoring places, and Leo Smith, Ben Schofield, Connor Dutton, Alex Nicholson and Oscar Watson completing a good day for this WADAC team.

The Winchester Under-17 women have been peerless this season, and they duly completed their aggregate league title win, though the team win on the day was by a narrow two-point margin over hosts Reading. Last week’s County Championship winner Lily Neate had to settle for second place this week, but that was enough to make her WADAC’s latest seasonal individual gold medal winner, as she opened up an unassailable three-point lead with just one race to go. Isabella Beck (7th) and Aisling Dunne (8th) secured the team win, closely followed by Hannah Foster (9th) and Katie Nicholson (13th).

Doug Scally (9th) was Winchester’s sole Under-17 Men runner.

The fifth and final Hampshire League fixture takes place at Popham Airfield on February 8th. Although three league titles are already won, the U15 boys still need a good result in their battle for seasonal bronze medals, and there are several seasonal individual medals still available to WADAC athletes, dependant on final day results.