Mon 6th Jan 2020
Winchester junior teams win four of the eight sets of team gold medals available, along with two team silvers, two team bronzes and various individual medals
In near-perfect overhead conditions, albeit with the ground still quite heavy despite little recent rainfall, the 2020 annual Hampshire Cross-Country Championships took place at Fairthorne Manor, near Botley. WADAC juniors once again turned out in huge numbers to represent the club, with over 100 competitors donning the black and gold for the second year in succession.
The Under-11 Boys were first off, with WADAC having high hopes of taking the team gold medals, given their dominance in the county league so far this season. There was to be an unexpected turn of events however, when a marshalling misdirection resulted in confusion and a shortened course. Until that point, Ethan Skipwith had seemed odds-on to take the individual gold, but instead found himself heading the wrong way down the course and unable finally to close the gap on the winner, having to settle instead for bronze. Happily, Ethan’s team-mates Casper Wilson (8th) and Joe Hasan (12th) were less affected by the course-change, and with Thomas Beck (17th) completing the scoring team, Winchester ended as reasonably comfortable winners of the team title. The race was notable once again for the huge crop of WADAC runners, 32 in a field totalling 79, many of them making their debuts for the club. There were a number of outstanding performances, all shown in the results linked at the bottom of this report.
Like their male counterparts, the Under-11 Winchester girls have ruled the roost in the league season to date, and there were to be no hitches on the day as the first four girls home won team golds and the second four a set of bonus bronzes. Poppy Taylor (2nd) continued her excellent form to take individual silver and was backed up by an incredible run from Chloe Poore (5th), proving what her coaches had always felt they knew ! Lucia Bertacchini (10th) and Grace Baker (12th) completed the quartet, and with Hannah Lowe (15th), Ellie Jepson (16th), Isobel Jordan (26th) and Eliza Yue (29th) taking the bronze medals, it could barely have been a better day for our youngest age-group runners. There were a further seven WADAC girls after that, showing a strength in depth not previously enjoyed by the club in this category.
The Under-13 boys fully expected to blitz their race, but the job’s never done until it’s done. A leading group of seven was soon established, featuring four WADAC vests, and by the time that group had splintered slightly late on, it had come down to a three-way battle for the title. Once again it was WADAC’s James Lewis who prevailed, seeing off the challenge of Southampton’s Jon Pepin and Winchester team-mate Stan Parkinson (3rd). Next home were Ollie Stephenson (4th) and Jack Moores (7th), to ensure the team golds. Despite having an incredible six more runners in the top 25, it wasn’t quite enough to add bronzes to golds as the U11 girls had done, but well done all the same to Ruben Price (12th), Ieuan Thomas (13th), Aiden Furby (19th), Haydn Moore (21st), Will Atkins (23rd) and Sam Nicholson (25th), most of them running from the lower half of the age-group, and to WADAC’s further five competitors.
There were six Winchester girls in the Under-13s race, which although a lot fewer than in other categories, still represented a good uplift on recent league turnouts, albeit some of our more experienced runners were still missing. Zara Barker (16th), Rebecca Hutchings (32nd), Lauren McGee (34th) and Eva Akerman (38th) saw WADAC to a fifth place team finish, followed home by Maisie Curtis and Emily Machleidt.
Our Under-15 boys were missing their leading league-point-scorer, Harry Wilson, through illness, and despite a superb run from Ben Chesterfield (8th) in a very competitive field, never looked like making an impression on the team medals. Solid, progressive runs from Sam Evans (21st), Ben Yates (25th) and Leo Smith (31st) gave Winchester another fifth place, and it was good to see a further eleven black and gold vests giving the club easily the largest numerical presence.
WADAC’s Under-15 girls looked set for another head-to-head with Southampton’s strong quartet, and so it proved as the race unfolded. Rose Chesterfield (2nd) followed her brother’s earlier lead with a magnificent run, chasing down the runaway leader but not quite able to close the gap completely, thus taking a fine individual silver medal. Amelia Moore (4th) was again at her best on big race day, and with none of the Southampton runners home at that point, hopes were high for the team title. However, the opposition had packed well around the bottom-half of the top-ten, and that was ultimately enough for them as Winchester’s next scorers Millie Burgess (14th) and Ellie McErlean (19th), despite determined runs, weren’t quite able to bridge the divide. So team silvers for our ever-reliable quartet, and another six WADAC vests after them for a good overall show of club colours.
The Under-17 women repeated the feat of the U11s, with the first set of scorers taking gold medals and the second set taking bronze medals. There was a great gun-to-tape race win for Lily Neate, with Issy Beck (4th) and Sasha Tydeman (6th) making up the gold-medal team, and Hannah Foster (7th), Aisling Dunne (9th) and Katie Nicholson (14th) adding the bronzeware.
Strong runs from the Under-17 men’s trio of Sam Roberts (4th), Doug Scally (8th) and Dominic Exworthy (14th) saw the WADAC team to silver medals, with James Medley just behind in 21st.
Incredible results for the club’s seniors and vets were to follow, details of which will doubtless be available in due course from other correspondents.
Full results available on the Hampshire Athletics website here : https://www.hampshireathletics...
Paul Hammond’s usual fabulous set of race photos, from which the picture above was taken, available to view via the link a little below on the same page. Photo credit : "Copyright: hammy8241" (Commercial use prohibited without prior written consent.)
WADAC’s thanks go to the organisers at Hampshire Athletics and the course-designers and marshals from Eastleigh RC for another superbly organised event and their usual selfless donation of literally hundreds of hours of their time for our athletes’ enjoyment.
Winchester’s juniors now turn their attention to the important Hampshire League fixture this Saturday at Reading, where a couple of league titles could be decided for both teams and individuals.