Wimborne Athletic Club

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Grace and Tom claim medals after XC double header – 8 February 2014

Reports of the HXC at Salisbury & Inter-Counties Schools at Bournemouth.

Grace Copeland shows off her gold medal, flanked by her cousins,
Bethanie and Isabelle Kingswell-Farr

There were two races planned for Saturday 8 February, the final Hampshire League fixture of the season at Salisbury, and the South West Schools Championships at King’s Park. With so many from the younger age-groups being selected to run for the county it left our HXC team somewhat depleted (spare a thought though for Salisbury AC who hosted the meeting who also suffered the same fate), although numbers were still better than we’d dared hope for, as we were able to field complete teams in both the under-13 girls and under-15 boys races.

On arrival in Salisbury it wasn’t too windy, and we managed to erect the tent without too much difficulty in the lee of a hedge. The tent was to prove its value as, in the hour between our arrival and the first race, a mighty wind got up. The strength of the wind was such that going up hill with the wind pushing seemed easier than descending into the teeth of it.

Heading the aggregates in the under-13 girls race prior to the meeting was Grace Copeland. Grace had a tough decision to make as to where to race on this day, but as her overall score would have been rubbed out if she hadn’t competed here, she decided to do the Hampshires once the meeting in Bournemouth had been modified from South West Championships to an Inter-Counties meeting (after Cornwall’s withdrawal).

Apart from the strong winds, the under-13 girls were caught in a severe hailstorm in the final stages of the race. Grace was involved in a very tight finish with Rebecca Poole of Basingstoke. Both girls were awarded the same time, but Grace was adjudged to have finished 2nd. This meant that Grace’s four races in the HXC this season had brought her two 1sts and two 2nd places. That record was equalled by Grace’s nearest rival Josie Czura of Portsmouth (who didn’t compete at Salisbury). Grace was awarded the gold and Josie the silver as in the three races they had competed against each other Grace was 2-1 up in head-to-heads. Rebecca won the bronze medal. Grace had emulated her brother’s achievement of two years’ previously (also as an under-13). Piers and Grace are, so far, the only WAC athletes to have ever been awarded HXC gold medals.  Next in for Wimborne was Hannah Fairchild, our girls were fairly evenly spaced out from there onwards, with Isabelle Kingswell-Farr next (sister Bethanie who is currently injured, was there to support the team), then Sophia Orr (in only her second race) and Elise Gill. Bethanie finished 34th in the season’s averages, with Isabelle 40th and Elise 42nd.

The under-13 boys’ team was almost wiped out by the schools’ fixture. Our sole runner was Elliott Symes. Elliott’s 30th place helped him to become the highest placed WAC u13B for the season (13th) just ahead of team-mate Michael Johnson (14th).

Under-15 girls’ race has seen Lucy Ballam and Maddie Williams put in some spirited performances this season … so much so that neither was available to us … they were competing in Bournemouth. This meant we had the rather odd experience of watching a junior XC race with no red vests in it. Lucy finished 19th in the season’s averages, with Maddie 27th.

Against the odds we had an under-15 boys’ team. This was led home by Piers Copeland. Completing the team score on the day were Sam Davies and Tom Boulton. These lads surely caught the worst of the weather on the afternoon, with their race coinciding with another hailstorm. Once the race was over, it was clear that we had another medallist – Tom Bourne. Tom had done enough in earlier races – particularly at Reading and Popham – to claim the bronze medal. Also claiming a top 10 place was Piers, with Matt Yates 38th.

Our under-17 women’s team almost went the same way as the u15 girls’ team … but we did have one representative … Becca ‘Scooter’ Skeats.  Scooter’s 23rd place saw her placed at 18th in the season’s aggregates. Our highest placed runner in the aggregates in this age group was Abbie Hine – 11th.

Sole representative in the women’s race, making her second appearance in a red vest and putting in a very solid shift was Sarah Orr.

The under-17 men were also depleted, with just Josh Downie out there for us. Josh’s 35th place sees him claim 28th place in the aggregates. Our best-placed runner in the averages was Ryan Walbridge (15th).

The final race of the day was the men’s, as usual. What was not usual was that for the first time in a very long time we failed to get a full men’s team out. Our men’s team had a fantastic season in 2012/2013 when we were promoted into Division 1, but it’s been tough this year. Last season’s team was consistently spearheaded by Callum Kennedy and Graeme Furley. While Callum has continued to do the business, Graeme has retired from running, add to this an injury-interrupted campaign for Steve Wyatt and Iain Donnelly’s relocation to Dorset it’s no wonder we’ve struggled. The biggest single issue we have had though is that most of the Division 1 teams are made up of 20- and 30-year-olds, and since race 1 we’ve only fielded one runner in each race under 40. Making important contributions to the team all season have been Mark Copeland and Pete Kingswell-Farr. Mark has been rock solid all season, and Pete is our most-improved senior. One of Graeme’s favourite sayings is, ‘What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger’ and you could say that of Pete, who found the nine miles at Parliament Hill last month a serious challenge. At Salisbury he saw a massively improved performance over previous races. Callum finished the season as 12th in the aggregates (5th as an u20), Steve was 34th,  Mark was 54th and Pete 71st.

HXC results at Salisbury

Under-13 girls (59 runners) – 7th team on the day, 7th team overall for season

2 – Grace Copeland  – 8:13  – Gold medallist
46 – Hannah Fairchild – 10:38
54 – Isabelle Kingswell-Farr – 11:06
57 – Sophia Orr – 11:52
59 – Elise Gill – 12:22

Under-13 boys (64 runners) – 7th team overall for the season

30 – Elliott Symes –2:42

Under-15 boys (57 runners) – 11th team on the day, 5th overall for the season

13 – Piers Copeland – 14:44  
42 – Sam Davies  – 16:48
56 – Tom Boulton – 19:16

Under-17 women (24 runners)

23 – Rebecca Skeats – 19:53

Senior women (77 runners)

46 –  Sarah Orr – 24:02

Under-17 men (38 runners) – 7th team overall

35 – Josh Downie – 21:43

Senior men (136 runners) – 9th team on the day and overall

27 – Callum Kennedy – 34:01 (9th under-20M on day)
73 – Mark Copeland – 38:15
113 – Peter Kingswell-Farr – 41:17
158 – Ian Kennedy – 54:16


Meanwhile in at King’s Park

Age groups in schools XC races differ from those in athletics clubs XC races – one advantage of this is that if you are a junior, somewhere you will be competing top of age-group. The age groups are named ‘Minors’, ‘Juniors’, ‘Intermediates’ and ‘Seniors’. These equate to under-12, under-14, under-16, under-18. In all there were 13 WAC runners competing at King’s Park. The outstanding WAC performance of the day was Tom Bourne’s 2nd place in the Junior Boys. The first three runners in this race were within three seconds of each other. The Junior Boys was the best Dorset team performance too, with Liam Murphy-Parry and Michael Johnson both making significant contributions in points-scoring positions. Dorset were first in this race, the county’s only team win.

WAC results from King’s Park

Minor Girls – Dorset team 2nd

23 – Jessica Bourne – 12:30

Minor Boys – Dorset team 4th

31 – Tom Morrison – 13:14

Junior Girls – Dorset team 4th

27 – Lucy Ballam – 14:32

Junior Boys – Dorset team 1st

2 – Tom Bourne – 16:11
18 – Liam Murphy-Parry – 17:07
25 – Michael Johnson – 17:30

Intermediate Girls – Dorset team 2nd

17 –  Abbie Hine – 17:23
27 – Ella Hearne – 17:51
41 – Maddie Williams – 18:57

Intermediate Boys – Dorset team 4th

16 – Jason Sotheran – 22:00
38 – Fraser Read – 22:50

Senior Girls – Dorset team 2nd

29 – Charlotte Bourne – 21:00

Senior Boys – Dorset team 3rd

16 – Ryan Walbridge – 29:08

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