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Emily gets England call-up as Dorset girls retain trophy – 18 March 2017

Ian Kennedy reports from the English Schools Cross-Country Championships

Dorset’s girls win the Sidney Rose Trophy for a second successive year

The biggest cross-country races this season have seen Dorset athletes clock up serious mileage.  The English Schools Cross-Country Championships was another long haul … Norwich.  Of the 46 athletes who made the trip a record number were Wimborne athletes … we had particularly good representation in the girls’ teams.

Most of the team travelled up on the coach from Dorset, we caught some Friday afternoon traffic on the M25 and so this gave us a journey time of over six hours.  Next day, with a decent breakfast inside us we headed off to the venue in good time to walk the course.  East Anglia has a reputation for being flat, and although there was a little gradient here and there, nowhere was there anything that might be considered a hill.  The ground itself was loamy in nature and short spikes or even trail shoes would be the order of the day.  In these conditions we could expect some fast races.  With the team tent erected and the St Wite’s cross flying we were ready.

The first race was in one of our strongest categories … the Intermediate Girls.  WAC’s Grace Copeland went into this in confident mood having performed well in the Nationals, and indeed it was Grace that led the county team home.  Her result could have been even better, she had taken a tumble and this probably cost her about half a dozen places.  Next in, around 40 seconds later, was Maddy Johnson and she had 10 seconds on a cluster of Dorset vests led by Lola Brown-Araujo, with the WAC trio of Amy Mercer, Hannah Slater and Ann Kelliher in hot pursuit.  In each race the first six home secure the team scores, and they packed well here.  Marie Tertsch was pretty close too; only five seconds back from Anna.  Marie is an exchange student who is in Dorset for a year, her family travelled from Germany to watch her race.  Completing the team was WAC’s Martha Pawson.  The strength in depth of the team is illustrated by the fact that Martha was in fact first Dorset in the South West Schools Championships in Truro with Marie second!  The counties are split into four divisions based on population size.  Dorset is one of the less populous counties and is in Division C.  Our Inter Girls got Dorset off to a flyer!  This team had won its division.

Intermediate girls – 345 finishers

21 – Grace Copeland (QE) – 13:17
84 – Maddy Johnson (Thomas Hardye) – 13:55
106 – Lola Brown-Araujo (PGS) – 14:04
115 – Amy Mercer (Clayesmore) – 14:07
120 – Hannah Slater (QE) – 14:09
122 – Anna Kelliher (Gillingham) – 14:10
139 – Marie Tertsch (BCS) – 14:15
230 – Martha Pawson (Talbot Heath) – 14:44


Now it was time for the Junior Boys’ race.  There were seven Dorset vests on the start line; all but one of the team would be needed for the score.  Freddie Bowhill of Bryanston was first Dorset over the line here.  After that they came in two-by-two, with two pairs of Wimborne AC athletes sandwiching a Poole AC pairing.  The first WACer was Ben Martin and Seth Lake was next.  Then it was Josh Smith ahead of Ryan Symington.  The final scoring position was claimed by Ollie Rawles.  Charlie Davies completed the line up.

Junior boys – 345 finishers

77 – Freddie Bowhill (Bryanston) – 13:37
122 – Ben Martin (Poole Grammar) – 13:52
170 – Seth Lake (Gillingham) – 14:05
262 – Josh Smith (Dumpton) – 14:39
294 – Ryan Symington (Ferndown Middle) – 14:48
301 – Ollie Rawles (Allenbourn) – 14:52
321 – Charlie Davies (QE) – 15:05

We had a very strong looking Junior Girls team, and they were next up on the start line.  The best individual performance of the day from a Dorset athlete was witnessed here.  WAC’s Emily Shaw had an excellent race to claim 4th place.  This equaled her result from a week earlier at the Inter-Counties, but one serious difference was that this time Emily was bottom of her age-group so the Schools race was a much stiffer test.  Next home was WAC’s Abbie Lovering, who had made a lightning start on the sound of the gun and she had Poole AC’s Emilie Castagna keeping close company at the finish.  Fern Kimber of Poole Runners has had a great season and she was next over the line.  Marianna Sawyer was one of the surprise packets of the day.  She’s not currently a member of an athletics club, but I’ve been working with her at Sherborne Girls School and I’ve witnessed her dramatic improvement since the turn of the year.  I’m hoping we’ll see her in Wimborne red before too long.  Holly Nixon was our sixth vest over the line and scored valuable points for the team.  The team was completed by WAC’s Lulu King and Dorchester AC’s Maddy Herbert.  The best Dorset team total of the day was achieved here … 381 points.  Emulating the Inter Girls we’d won our division, in fact there were only three counties ahead of us in the whole country (all with a greater population to draw from, and therefore from higher divisions).  This was an excellent team performance.

Junior girls – 344 finishers

4 – Emily Shaw (Sherborne Prep) – 11:07
23 – Abbie Lovering (QE) – 11:31
33 – Emilie Castagna (BSG) – 11:34
72 – Fern Kimber (PGS) – 11:51
101 – Marianna Sawyer (Sherborne Girls) – 12:01
148 – Holly Nixon (Gillingham) – 12:13
237 – Lulu King (Canford) – 12:37
262 – Maddy Herbert (Colfox) – 12:45


The Inter Boys race produced the best individual Dorset male performance of the day, in the form of Jed Skelton (BCS/PAC), his closest company in a green vest was another BSC/PAC athlete – Ben Lewis.  Also scoring for the team were Harry Heffer and WAC’s only representative in this race, Michael Johnson.  Claiming the final point-scoring positions was the Clayesmore double act of Ruben Wilson-Connell and Alex D’Arbost.  The team was completed by Manny Cox and Toby Kirby.

Inter boys – 338 finishers

30 – Jed Skelton (BCS) – 19:14
61 – Ben Lewis (BCS) – 19:36
186 – Harry Heffer (Bryanston) – 20:35
245 – Michael Johnson (Blandford) – 20:56
269 – Ruben Wilson-Connell (Clayesmore) – 21:11
281 – Alex D’Arbost (Clayesmore) – 21:19
287 – Manny Cox (Colfox) – 21:23
322 – Toby Kirby (Bryanston) – 22:14

With all the Juniors and Inters races now completed, we turned our attention to the Seniors, with the girls performing first.  Unsurprisingly it was Serena O’Connor heading the team home in 24th.  WAC’s Emma Martin finished strongly to be next in.  Only two seconds (but seven places!) separated Poppea Bramwell-Reeks and Bridget Dence.  For Bridget this was her final appearance at the English Schools Cross Country Championships having competed for six successive years.  The final scoring positions for the team were secured by Flo Swan and, blowing hard, WAC’s Minty Stubbs.  The team was completed by Zoe Stiby.

Senior girls – 301 finishers

24 – Serena O’Connor (LEAF) – 14:09
81 – Emma Martin (PGS) – 14:53
105 – Poppea Bramwell-Reeks (BSB) – 15:06
112 – Bridget Dence (BSG) – 15:08
165 – Flo Swan (Woodroffe) – 15:38
218 – Minty Stubbs (Sherborne Girls) – 16:11
224 – Zoe Stiby (PGS) – 16:15

The meeting concluded with the Senior Boys race.  A strong performance from Dom Willmore saw him first Dorset home, and next up was WAC’s Joey Kelliher.  Henry Bramwell-Reeks and Joe Mitchell arrived within six seconds of each other.  Thore Gobel and WAC’s Matt Yates claimed the final scoring positions for the team.  Completing the team were the Clayesmore pairing of Ed de Boehmier and James Miles.

Senior boys – 324 finishers

74 – Dominic Willmore (Poole Grammar) – 23:56
149 – Joey Kelliher (Gillingham) – 24:54
203 – Henry Bramwell-Reeks (BSB) – 25:30
212 – Joe Mitchell (Poole Grammar) – 25:36
228 – Thore Gobel (Bryanston) – 25:54
264 – Matthew Yates (QE) – 26:29
280 – Ed de Boehmier (Clayesmore) – 27:00
283 – James Miles – 27:07 (Clayesmore) – 27:07

The Sidney Rose Trophy

With the girls’ races concluded, the statisticians were crunching the numbers.  The Sidney Rose Trophy was at stake.  It’s a competition we’ve competed in since 1975.  At Blackburn two years ago we were congratulating ourselves on having come 2nd (of 12) in a competition we hadn’t won since 1983, we were around 500 points adrift of the winners.  Then last year we won it by a margin of around 100 points.

How had we done in 2017?  The Dorset girls were called towards the podium over the tannoy.  When we got there we realized that this meant that we were in the top three.  There was an anxious wait.  In the intervening year we’d lost some talented Senior Girls who had since left school, but we had some great new talent in the Junior age-group.  Surely we would be there or thereabouts!  The result was announced 3rd place Somerset, 2nd place Suffolk … 1st Dorset.

We’d retained the trophy, and won by a more emphatic margin than last year … almost 400 points.  Although we went that long stretch from 1983 until 2016 without winning, we had won the Sidney Rose Trophy in 1981 and 1982.  Let’s see if we can emulate the Dorset girls’ team of the early 1980s and make it three on the bounce in 2018!

In conclusion

The English Schools Championships is without doubt one of the great highlights of the cross-country season.  The path to it started at the Dorset Schools County Championships at King’s Park in January.  That led us to a very wet South West Schools Championships in Truro, and finally the long haul, with overnight stay in Norfolk, for the finale.  It’s a major operation, and guiding us through all of it has been Gavin Rusling of QE School in Wimborne.  A big ‘Thank you’ is in order. He’s committed so much time, energy and enthusiasm to the campaign on our behalves.

Bring on the English Schools Cross Country Championships at Temple Newsam Park, Leeds on 17 March 2018, and let’s see if we can defend that trophy again!



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