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The cross-country path to the English Schools

Ian Kennedy reports from King’s Park and Truro

Three green Dorset vests in the Inter Girls race at Truro: Marie Tertsch, Martha Pawson and Amy Mercer

One of the notable honours young cross-country runners can attain is to win selection for the county team at the English Schools Championships (this year at Norwich).  For Dorset athletes the journey to those championships started at King’s Park on 19 January.  Teams from all four age-groups (minors, juniors, inters and seniors) would progress to regional championships.  In Dorset’s case that would lead to the South West Schools Championships in Truro on 4 February.  Ten athletes would compete in each age group at Truro.

Dorset School Championships

It was a beautiful spring-like sunny day at Kings Park.  It was hugely encouraging to see in excess of 700 athletes taking part. 

There were 127 in the minor girls’ race, where we saw a real ‘wow’ performance from Wimborne AC’s Sarah Graham.  It was easily her most impressive performance up to that date; she led for much of the race, but had to settle for 3rd after a sprint finish.  It was a terrific performance and great reward for someone who works diligently at track sessions with the club.  Sarah’s fine performance won her a Dorset vest at the South West Championships.

WAC runners - minor girls (127 finishers)

3 – Sarah Graham – 10:40
21 – Tilly Coombes – 11:23
27 – Kate Simmonds – 11:27
31 – Kitty Sharpe – 11:37
39 – Amelia Chaffey – 11:50
49 – Millie Davey – 12:00
59 – Ruby Sargeant – 12:16
62 – Grace Chaffey – 12:21
66 – Amy Darragh – 12:26
 

Wimborne’s top runner in the minor boys’ race was Jamie Berry.  Jamie is a recent recruit to WAC and he has made a huge amount of progress in a relatively short space of time.  He was originally on the standby list for the South-Wests.  He got a very late call-up to represent Dorset at Truro.

WAC runners - minor boys (134 finishers)

16 – Jamie Berry – 12:34
24 – Joe Healey – 12:52
25 – Jack Wrann – 12:53
40 – Matthew Lissenburg – 13:26
60 – Jay Dunn – 13:47
 

There was a terrific three-way battle at the head of the junior girls’ race – between Wimborne’s Emily Shaw and Abbie Lovering and Poole AC’s Emilie Castagna.  There were three seconds between Emily in first and third-placed Abbie.  We saw plenty of other fine performances from WAC athletes, including Lulu King and Holly Nixon also finishing in the top 10, and into the county team they went.  Marianna Sawyer was 11th and she got called up as a reserve for Truro.

WAC runners - junior girls (142 finishers)

1 – Emily Shaw – 11:37
3 – Abbie Lovering – 11:40
5 – Lulu King – 12:07
7 – Holly Nixon – 12:24
11 – Marianna Sawyer – 12:44
13 – Demi Goddard – 12:57
21 – Charlotte Piper – 13:18
28 – Abbi Slade – 13:36
32 – Sophie Minchin – 13:45
33 – Flora Dunning – 13:47
43 – Lucy Tipping – 13:59
44 – Ella Jeffery – 13:59
79 – Lucy Lockwood – 15:13
89 – Lucy Gladdis – 15:32
 

Ben Martin was Wimborne’s best-placed athlete in the junior boys’ race – he along with Max Meadwell, Seth Lake, Ollie Rawles and 11th-placed Charlie Davies were all destined to make the long trip to Cornwall for the South Wests.  It was a particularly impressive performance from Ollie, he’s a year younger than most of the others in the top 10.  Charlie has had a frustrating cross-country season, and this race signalled a major upturn in his fortunes.

WAC runners - junior boys (117 finishers)

5 – Ben Martin – 14:54
7 – Max Meadwell – 15:18
8 – Seth Lake – 15:22
9 – Ollie Rawles – 15:26
11 – Charlie Davies – 15:37
25 – Joe Goodwin – 16:04
28 – Joel Green – 16:08
33 – Josh Jack – 16:34
 

Wimborne has a number of fine athletes in the inter girls’ category.  The race was won by a comfortable margin by Grace Copeland.  Other WACers joining her in the top 10 were Amy Mercer, Martha Pawson, Anna Kelliher and Caitlin Rogers.  Amy, Martha, Anna and Beth (who was 13th and got called up from the reserves) were to pull on Dorset vests in Truro.  Unable to compete on the day due to illness was Christa Cripwell.  Christa has had some cracking races in schools races and on appeal was included in the South-Wests team as a reserve and got a very late call up for Truro.

WAC runners - intermediate girls (60 finishers)

1 – Grace Copeland – 14:53
5 – Amy Mercer – 15:46
6 – Martha Pawson – 15:48
8 – Anna Kelliher – 15:53
10 – Caitlin Rogers – 16:31
13 – Beth Kingswell-Farr – 16:47
22 – Hannah Fairchild – 17:41
25 – Hannah Collin – 17:48
34 – Tilly Cripwell – 18:18
41 – Emma Graham – 19:15
47 – Izzie Kingswell-Farr – 19:43
50 – Charlie Radford – 20:29
 

We had two runners in the top 10 of the inter boys’ race – Harry O’Donoghue in 4th and Michael Johnson 7th.  Michael would go on to compete in Truro, Harry was unable to take up the place he had earned.

WAC runners - intermediate boys (75 finishers)

4 – Harry O’Donoghue – 21:16
7 – Michael Johnson – 21:47
24 – Josh Davey – 23:11
43 – Sam Hughes – 24:22
 

Serena O’Connor of Poole Runners/LEAF won the senior girls’ race with WAC’s Emma Martin claiming 2nd place with a fine run.  Minty Stubbs was comfortably in the top 10 and claimed a place in the county team.  Olivia Manson had to rely on an appeal to get into the team; her fine performance in the County Championships at Bryanston in December was enough to secure her place for the South West team in Truro.

WAC runners - senior girls (22 finishers)

2 – Emma Martin – 15:26
8 – Minty Stubbs – 16:33
16 – Maddie Williams – 18:37
 

Joey Kelliher and Matt Yates both comfortably made the senior boys top 10 and won team selection for the South-Wests.

WAC runners - senior boys (24 finishers)

2 – Joey Kelliher – 25:45
5 – Matt Yates – 26:21
15 – Sam Davies – 27:37
16 – Ed Dart – 27:40
 

… and so to Truro!

Some travelled down to Cornwall the day before and overnighted, whilst others had an early start on the day, some of those on the team minibus.  The journey on the bus passed without incident in pretty decent driving conditions with team manager Gavin Rusling at the wheel.  We dropped into the valley with Truro ahead of us.  The view was dominated by the impressive cathedral.  There was a sharp climb up a narrow lane to Truro School, our race venue.  The decent weather didn’t last, and for much of the day the rain lashed down … I kept telling myself, and anyone else who’d listen, that at least the weather was better than at the South West Schools at Cheltenham in 2016.  If you hadn’t been at that race in 2016 you’d have found it hard to believe.  The first race of the day was run in reasonable conditions, but things went ‘south’ from there until the final race when the sun re-emerged and shone on the inter-girls.  By then, however, we were soaked to the skin, feeling the cold and having to compete in very heavy conditions.

The senior boys got the meeting underway in what was the day’s longest race (7.5k).  As he had been at King’s Park, Dom Willmore (of Poole Runners) was first Dorset runner home.  Matt Yates was Wimborne’s only representative in this race; he was 4th Dorset runner home.  Both Matt and Joey Kelliher (who came 2nd at King’s Park) have been selected for Dorset’s 8-man team in Norwich in this age-group.

WAC runners shown in red

Dorset runners - senior boys (58 finishers) – 6th team

10 – Dom Willmore – 23:58
20 – Henry Bramwell-Reeks – 24:42
36 – Harry Buttle – 25:47
37 – Matt Yates – 25:51
39 – Joe Mitchell – 25:54
45 – James Miles – 26:12
46 – Thore Gobel – 26:20
50 – Jonny Ellis – 26:31
55 – Ed de Boehmier – 27:23
 

From the longest race we went to the shortest – the minor girls.  Sarah Graham once again upped her game – 1st Dorset runner home.  It was definitely one of the day’s highlights from a WAC perspective.  Sarah was the only Wimborne athlete on the day in this age-group.

Dorset runners - minor girls (65 finishers) – 7th team

21 – Sarah Graham – 8:34
23 – Emily Pitman – 8:37
31 – Erin Horn – 8:46
48 – Grace Hawkins – 9:05
52 – Katie Evans – 9:06
53 – Izzie Jones – 9:06
64 – Alice Anderson – 9:36
65 – Isla Worthington – 9:36
 

Dorset claimed a race winner in the minor boys – Finn Pardy (Poole AC) in a close finish.  Wimborne’s Jamie Berry had been called up from the reserves, and he was making his county debut here.  Many of the runners in this race were recorded as ‘no time’, perhaps caused by deteriorating conditions.

Dorset runners - minor boys (67 finishers) – 3rd team

1 – Finn Pardy – 9:40
16 – Cameron Corbin – 10:21
17 – Edward Rimmer – 10:22
22 – Seth Hall-Nunn
24 – Harry Hoffman
34 – Connor Corbin
36 – Jamie Richards
38 – Jack Pellow
39 – Jamie Berry
 

Undoubtedly the highlight of the day for the Dorset team was the performance of the junior girls.  They are the South West Schools Cross-Country Champions for only the third time ever, and the first time since 2002.  This was achieved despite the Dorset Schools County Champion – WAC’s Emily Shaw – being unavailable.  Clearly there is a healthy strength in depth in this category.  The team was led home by Emilie Castagna of Poole AC with Wimborne’s own Abbie Lovering next runner over the line.

Dorset runners - junior girls (67 finishers) – 1st team

3 – Emilie Castagna – 14:00
4 – Abbie Lovering – 14:06
9 – Phoebe Clarke – 14:18
13 – Fern Kimber – 14:25
16 – Holly Nixon – 14:30
22 – Lulu King – 14:46
28 – Marianna Sawyer – 14:54
45 – Daisy Baler – 15:16
50 – Issy Colwell – 15:22
54 – Maddy Herbert – 15:36
 

Next up were the junior boys.  The first of five Wimborne runners here (and 2nd Dorset) was Ben Martin.  Conditions were pretty terrible by this stage, with Max Meadwell in particular looking to have serious body temperature problems after he finished his race.

Dorset runners - junior boys (67 finishers) – 7th team

14 – Liam Openshaw – 14:31
27 – Ben Martin
31 – Freddie Bowhill
42 – Seth Lake
45 – Josh Smith – 15:20
52 – Charlie Davies
53 – Ollie Rawles
63 – Max Meadwell
64 – Harry Sherwood
 

In the senior girls’ race three of the top four places in the Dorset team were claimed by WAC athletes, with Emma Martin leading the county team home.  Olivia Manson and Minty Stubbs had a ding-dong battle for Sherborne Girls bragging rights, until Olivia gradually eased away in the latter stages.

Dorset runners - senior girls (54 finishers) – 4th team

6 – Emma Martin – 18:06
16 – Flo Swan – 19:13
18 – Olivia Manson – 19:28
27 – Minty Stubbs – 19:46
30 – Zoe Gowers – 20:01
32 – Zoe Stiby – 20:07
33 – Katrina Ashford – 20:08
40 – Ella Sykes – 20:34
42 – Flora Johnson – 20:44
 

The meeting concluded with the two races from the inter age-groups, with the boys going first.  Michael Johnson was WAC’s only runner in this race, he was 3rd Dorset.

Dorset runners - inter boys (66 finishers) – 5th team

8 – Ben Lewis – 20:29
21 – Alex D’Arbost – 21:20
31 – Michael Johnson – 21:35
36 – Ruben Wilson-Connell – 21:44
39 – Harry Heffer – 21:58
44 – Manny Cox – 22:10
53 – Toby Kerby – 22:39
58 – Tom Crabtree – 22:57
59 – Sam Coles – 22:59
63 – Conor Gibb – 23:29
 

Just as the inter girls were about to race the weather dramatically improved.  However, the course was by this stage a sea of mud.  This category is a good one for Dorset, with our girls coming 2nd overall.  It’s the Dorset team that has the strongest Wimborne representation within it.  Martha Pawson led the county home in what must surely be one of her finest races so far, but there was great support from the other Dorset girls.  Incidentally Martha’s brother, Atticus, had been called upon by Wiltshire (where he goes to school) in the senior boys’ race.  There was a Wimborne duel between Anna Kelliher and Amy Mercer, and another between Hannah Slater and Christa Cripwell, with Christa proving her worth after her wildcard selection.

Dorset runners - inter girls (61 finishers) – 2nd team

11 – Martha Pawson – 16:00
12 – Marie Tertsch – 16:01
15 – Maddie Johnson – 16:06
20 – Anna Kelliher – 16:22
21 – Amy Mercer – 16:25
22 – Hannah Slater – 16:31
24 – Christa Cripwell – 16:34
30 – Alice Forster – 16:52
40 – Beth Kingswell-Farr – 17:11
46 – Carla Sheppard – 17:25
 

We returned to our vehicles cold and wet after having watched some exhilarating racing on a surface that became increasingly tricky.  Dorset’s junior girls’ victory was clearly a big highlight.  Wimborne’s girls, in particular, had plenty to celebrate, with a WAC runner leading the county team home in three of the four age-groups.

Teams of 10 were selected for Truro, but when we head off to Norwich the county team will only consist of eight.  Bear in mind that quite a few of the county’s champions from King’s Park weren’t available for the meeting in Truro, and they are expected to return to the fray for the English Schools in Norwich so making our teams even stronger.

 

 
 

 

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