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Hampshire League XC at Havant – 11 February 2017

Ian Kennedy reports from Staunton Country Park

Mixed fortunes for our under-17 men, Michael and Joey

The Hampshire League has had a few issues with staging its races this year.  In the case of the February event, there was a relatively late switch from QE Country Park, Petersfield to Staunton Country Park, Havant.  A message was sent out advising that the course was not suitable for spikes as the route was largely on gravel tracks.  Despite having some misgivings before we got there, Staunton Country Park turned out to be a pretty decent venue, and certainly an attractive setting. There was a terrific view from the balustrade at the top of the hill looking down onto the lake.  It was quite a cold day, even with little wind, and we had the most delicate of snowflakes in the air for company, although with no chance that they would settle.  This race fell on the first weekend of half term, and this always tends to have a negative effect on the numbers we are able to field, this was true of other teams also as the sizes of field where reduced from what we’ve come to expect in the Hampshire League.  On the plus side this did mean we were able to include a few athletes that normally have school on a Saturday – Hannah Fairchild, Zach Fenwick and Minty Stubbs all grabbed the chance to compete in a Hampshire League fixture.

We got off to an inauspicious start.  Charlotte Piper was our only runner in the under-13 girls’ race. Charlotte returned to training recently, Thursday had been a successful session, but come the race she got into difficulties and pulled up. 

Also, just returning from ‘the wars’, was Tom Fuller.  This was his first race since a ‘DNF’ at Dorset Schools in January.  Tom’s was a much happier outcome as he led the Wimborne team home.  His 13th place was his best so far in this Hampshire League season.  Ollie Rawles was next red home and his XC season gets better the longer it continues.  His 20th place was his best in the Hampshire League this season by a distance.  Completing the team was Joe Healey in 34th.  Joe’s contribution ensured that the team recorded a 5th place on the day, equaling our best under-13 boys’ team result of the season.  Our under-13 boys’ team now lies in 6th place in the league with four races completed.



Under-13 boys (47 finishers) – 5th team

13 – Tom Fuller – 12:46
20 – Ollie Rawles – 13:13
34 – Joe Healey – 13:59


In recent times our under-15 girls have often provided some of the club’s best results, so it proved here.  Abbie Lovering is once more on an upward curve and she claimed 2nd, her best HXC result this season.  Holly Nixon’s 8th place was her first top 10 finish in the league this season.  Perhaps the biggest improver was Demi Goddard who secured the third scoring spot for the team.  We were 3rd on the day.  Beth Kingswell-Farr also had a good day equaling her season’s best finishing position.  It was great to welcome Hannah Fairchild back into the team for an HXC meeting, her first one of the season, and our under-15 girls’ team was completed by Izzie Kingswell-Farr.  Abbie’s race has put her within reach of the podium places in the individual rankings with one race to go.  The team currently lies equal second with Aldershot, Farnham & District.

Under-15 girls (38 finishers) – 3rd team

2 – Abbie Lovering – 16:45
8 – Holly Nixon – 17:32
17 – Demi Goddard – 18:13
20 – Beth Kingswell-Farr – 18:42
29 – Hannah Fairchild – 20:12
32 – Izzie Kingswell-Farr – 20:43

We fielded just enough for an under-15 boys’ team.  This was led home by Seth Lake, despite being bent double with a stitch shortly after crossing the line.  Charlie Davies and Zach Fenwick made important contributions to the team score to claim 5th on the day.  With WAC having failed to field a complete team in the December meeting, it’s important for the final league table that we have a full complement of under-15 boys racing at Reading in the last race of the season.

Under-15 boys (38 finishers) – 5th team

20 – Seth Lake – 17:09
30 – Charlie Davies – 17:52
34 – Zach Fenwick – 18:35

We were one short of a team for the under-17 women, but we did get two top ten performances.  Hannah Slater secured her third successive third place finish in this league.  Hannah is equal 2nd in the season’s rankings.  Amazingly, although Minty Stubbs has competed in quite a few Wessex races, this was her first ever Hampshire league performance … it was worth the wait!

Under-17 women (22 finishers)

3 – Hannah Slater – 17:58
10 – Minty Stubbs – 18:41

We only had two under-17 men starting as well – Michael Johnson and Joey Kelliher.  They had very different experiences.  Michael will be feeling justifiably pleased with his first top 10 result in the Hampshire League as an under-17.  With one lap done our two were shoulder-to-shoulder.  A lap later, I saw Michael on his own.  Michael’s words were, ‘Joey’s hurt’.  At this point I saw the ambulance heading off onto the course.  Thankfully it wasn’t for Joey, who’d taken a tumble and had got up and walked in having retired hurt … but not too badly.

Under-17 men (26 finishers)

9 – Michael Johnson – 23:21

Our senior women’s team this year will have their best season ever.  In every race in both leagues we’ve fielded complete teams.  It was a close call this time as we only just had enough runners.  We needed all of them to do well … they delivered big time! It was probably one of Emma Martin’s best ever cross-country races (and she’s had some pretty good ones, particularly recently!), for Maddie Williams it was her best race for a couple of years and for Jessica Kennedy probably her best yet!  Emma’s 13th place was her highest finish in a women’s race in the HXC by a margin, as was her 3rd place in the under-20s competition.  Emma has moved into the women’s top 10, and she is now equal 3rd (with an athlete she beat by 50 seconds at Havant) in the under-20s competition.  It’s game on with one race to go.  The women’s team claimed 8th place on the day, they are 6th in the league and are set for their best ever finish.  These are exciting times for our women’s team.

Senior women (102 finishers)

13 – Emma Martin – 26:13 (3rd u20)
38 – Maddie Williams– 29:33 (9th u20)
74 – Jessica Kennedy – 33:44

Whilst our women’s teams are enjoying easily their best season, we’ve struggled to field complete men’s team.  At Havant we had only two runners, and of course they are two of WAC’s most loyal XC servants – Ryan Walbridge and Pete Kingswell-Farr.  Ryan’s 9th place in the under-20s sees him make it into the under-20s top 10 for the season.  I think the biggest cheer of the day for anyone came when the whole team where there to show their appreciation for Pete.  We made so much noise we startled the race officials.

Senior men (164 finishers)

75 – Ryan Walbridge – 40:02 (6th u20)
126 – Pete Kingswell-Farr – 45:12

We’ve got a few in the reckoning for medals come the final race of the season at Reading on 4th March.  Those in with a shout as individuals are Abbie Lovering, Hannah Slater and Emma Martin.  For the teams our under-15 girls’ team is our best chance.  The WAC under-15 boys are not completely out of the frame if we are at full strength, but you’d get long odds on them!




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