Wimborne Athletic Club

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Dorset XC County Champs  – 11 December 2010

Piers is u13 county champion as our juniors rise to the occasion.

Canford Heath Middle School provided the venue for the Dorset County Championships. It is the first time any of us WACers had seen the course and hopefully will not be the last, as it proved to have the perfect balance of being varied and interesting and yet a good racing surface. Thanks are due to Poole AC who did a superb job of running the event.

There was some nervousness in the WAC camp as our juniors knew from last year that a top 4 finish would be rewarded with the chance to represent the county, and a top 8 finish would put you in contention for a county vest. With a few of our young athletes winning selection to the county team last year they were keen to repeat the experience.

Now to the racing

The first race off was the senior men. Jerry Shield claimed one of the coveted top 8 spots, he was awarded a medal for second place in the veterans category too.  Mark Copeland, in his first XC season claimed a highly creditable 14th place finish. Having chased down and then passed Tim Cruse-Drew of Poole AC on the final lap, Mark was not able to hold off his rival in a dramatic sprint finish which saw him collapse to the ground as soon as he crossed the finish line. Having their own battle were WACers Paul Hine and Gerry Hutchings, with Paul managing to pull away in the latter stages of the race.

Next up was the senior women’s race. We had a single representative in this – Lynn Hutchings. Lynn finished in 5th place which should be enough to see her in a green Dorset vest later in the season. Lynn steadily pulled away from Jane Neal (Dorset Champion from a year or to back), a fine performance.

With the senior races done and dusted we moved on to the first of the junior events – the under-13 girls. We had three runners in this one. Abbie Hine, Maddie Williams and Becky Kent. Unusually our three girls were from different school years – Abbie is top of the age-group and a year 8, Maddie is year 7 and Becky a year 6. You have to be 11 years-old on the day in order to compete in this event, and Becky reached that landmark on the previous day. Could this make her the youngest runner ever to compete in these Championships? It’s certainly a possibility. Abbie has been having an excellent season and she took a strong second place behind Lizzy Hood of Poole AC. Maddie is our latest recruit, she had run superbly in the East Dorset Schools XC earlier in the week and repeated the feat here, claiming a top 8 finish. Becky also ran very well, looking very strong in the final part of the race – closing down on, but not quite able to catch, a pair of Castle Court runners as the finish line came into sight.  A great experience for our youngest racer.

We had two strong competitors in the under-13 boys race, and our lads really delivered here. In his usual ‘take no prisoners’ style Piers Copeland took off and the group behind him started to fracture as it strived to stay in contention. His closest rival was Regan Cooper of Poole Runners who quite quickly found himself the meat in a Wimborne sandwich when Tom Boulton emerged from the pack and into third position. Once Piers hit the front he was never headed but Regan’s fine run meant that Piers needed to stay focussed for the whole race. Tom claimed third position ahead of a pair of Castle Court boys – surely Tom’s best cross-country performance so far. A great race to watch, very well done to Piers on becoming Dorset Cross-Country Champion (u13). Not able to take part on the day was Jamie Brash (away on holiday), he has been there or thereabouts with Tom in the Hampshire League races, so hopefully a good run in the South-West Championships could put him into contention for a county vest too.

Two of our successful under-13s girls’ team from last year, Sharon Hutchings and Chloe Morris, have stepped up an age group and now find themselves in the younger half of the under-15s age-group. Although there was a little pre-race nerves before the gun went off, these evaporated once they were running, enabling them both to claim crucial top 8 finishes. It’s interesting that their quite different style and approach should see them so closely matched in the races.

Our only disappointment of the day came in the under-15 boys race. Like Sharon and Chloe, Ryan Walbridge has also stepped up an age group. Last year he was the only Wimborne AC athlete to make it to the National Schools Cross-Country Championships – having shone locally and then at the Schools South-West Championships. With the cross-country season being during the winter months there is always a higher risk of athletes picking up bugs and viruses which will affect their performance. It was Ryan’s rotten luck that he was struck down 24 hours before the race. However, he wasn’t prepared to give up without a fight, and decided to give it a go, and see how it went – with strict instructions to pull up if necessary. Ryan showed great intent at the start and actually got up to third in the first couple of hundred metres, but he clearly wasn’t at all well and then found himself steadily being overhauled by the field. Common sense prevailed and halfway into the race a disappointed  Ryan pulled up and made his way back to the team tent to put some warm clothes on before heading off home to recover. The next Hampshire League race may come up to soon for him, but hopefully he can show the County selectors what he is capable of on 9th January in the South West Championships and lay claim to one of those green vests. Get well soon Ryan.

The final race of the day with Wimborne interest was the under-17 men. The number competing at both under-17 and indeed under-20 is low, but the quality of the competitors is very high. Callum Kennedy had been struck down with man-flu earlier, and after a couple weeks off training, he managed to get his first tentative session in on Tuesday. While not back to full speed, he managed a gutsy, solid run to claim that important fourth place.

All in all a very encouraging day with some great performances and fine reward for all that commitment that has been going in at training. We all know what Ryan is capable of and look forward to seeing back fully fit as soon as possible.

Under-13 Girls 

2 – Abbie Hine –  11:54
8 – Maddie Williams – 12:32
16 – Becky Kent – 14:14

Under-13 Boys

1 – Piers Copeland –  10:38
3 – Tom Boulton – 11:46

Under-15 Girls 

6 – Sharon Hutchings – 17:30
7 – Chloe Morris – 17:49

Under-17 men

4 – Callum Kennedy – 20:44

Senior women

5 – Lynn Hutchings – 36:31

Senior men

7 – Jerry Shield – 40:41
14 – Mark Copeland – 45:47
17 – Paul Hine – 48:46
18 – Gerry Hutchings – 49:10



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