Wimborne Athletic Club

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It’s a Championship Double!!

  Hampshire XC League – Salisbury – 9 February 2013

The curtain comes down on a fabulous XC league season.

Heroes of the WAC men’s 2012/2013 campaign
Tjiwolt Wierda and Richard Swindlehurst

We’ve had a tremendous cross-country season over the winter of 2012/2013. For much of the time it’s been the individual form of our growing number of juniors which has caught the eye, but at Salisbury in the final league race of the season, it was the team performance of our senior men that stole the limelight. Although the weather on the day was gloomy and downcast, the spirit in the Wimborne team contrasted sharply on one of those dank February days where the temperature didn’t climb above 3ºC.

The under-13 girls got the race programme underway. Elise Gill and Grace Copeland had, up to this point, competed together for WAC in every Hampshire League race this season. However, on this occasion Elise was our sole representative. Grace was at Salisbury to support the team, but a decision was taken to keep her powder dry for the following weekend’s South of England Championships at Parliament Hill – keeping anything dry in the conditions we were met with at Salisbury was but a faint hope! It must have felt very odd for both of them when Elise lined up with the 60 other girls and they left Grace near the start line! This is Elise’s first cross-country season and she has competed in every single league race we’ve had – both Wessex and Hampshire leagues. It’s been tough at times, but when she raced for her school recently at the Schools County Championships her greater experience gave her the edge over her class mates. Grace has had a fine season and she lay 3rd in the HXC averages and in line for a bronze medal. With this final race she could neither catch 2nd or be caught by 4th place so she sat this one out. Grace, along with a few others in the team, has found that with success comes opportunities to run in more meetings, not racing here allowed her a little extra recovery prior to tackling the South of England and National Championships in coming weeks.

In the under-13 boys our ‘big hitter’ is Tom Bourne who was also in medal contention. Tom is top of age-group and he got excellent support from a pair of highly promising ‘first year’ under-13s – Liam Murphy-Parry and Matt Yates. In the school year below these two is Jamie Anderson. Jamie has only just turned 11 so will be one of the youngest runners in the field – he is gaining invaluable experience as, odd as it may seem, he will still be eligible to run in this age category in February 2015! By Tom Bourne’s very high standards he had an off day at Salisbury, however, his performances earlier in the campaign ensured that he collected a bronze medal for what has been a fine season.

Our under-15 girls team has had a very solid look about it all season. We have got progressively stronger, with the same personnel, with each race. The team’s progress has been built along its solid spine made up of Abbie Hine, Maddie Williams and Ella Hearne. They’ve each recorded respectable season averages and all found themselves in demand when county teams are being selected – fine work girls. They didn’t, however, get the job done on their own at Salisbury as they received good quality support from Abi Deeble – who raced in her first Hampshire League meeting of the season.

WAC have Dorset’s top two in the under-15 boys’ category. There has been not too much between Piers Copeland’s and Jason Sotheran’s results over the course of the whole cross-country season. This pair were going into the race with quite different build-ups though. Jason has been off-school ill and was still recovering full fitness, while Piers ran an outstanding 1500m time trial earlier in the week, and arrived with his confidence soaring. It was perhaps inevitable then that it was Piers who was the first red shirt home, but Jason had done enough to claim an age-group medal – 5th. Ollie Davies is in his first season with us and competing here made it a hat-trick of appearances in the Hampshire League, Ollie’s and, the ever-present, Tom Boulton’s performances have been key to turning strong individual performances into a good team score. We finished a highly creditable 4th in the league table with only City of Portsmouth, Basingstoke and Aldershot ahead of us. Very well done guys.

We have had our strongest under-17 women’s cross-country team yet this season. Although in the last couple of meetings we’ve been derailed by illness (Chloe Morris) and injury (Charlotte Bourne). Added to this Scooter was away on holiday (twice!), and for the second Hampshire race in a row we had only Sharon representing the club in this age-group. Sharon wasn’t able to match her eye-catching season’s best performance of the previous meeting at King’s Park, but she has competed in every Hampshire race this term and finished the season in a highly creditable 9th place in the averages. On a positive note Charlotte was at Salisbury to support the team and her return to racing is imminent.

The WAC HXC men’s under-17s team has comprised Ryan Walbridge and Josh Downie this season. Josh had only been a member for days when the season opener came. He was a spectator for that one, but has been ever-present since while Ryan has recorded a ‘full house’ of appearances. With that sort of commitment from these two it’s been frustrating that we’ve come so close to recording team scores in this category without ever managing it (we need three for a team). Perhaps next year!

We have had a one person Hampshire League WAC Women’s team – the mighty Lynn Hutchings!  Lynn has had another solid season, well placed in the averages, especially in the veteran’s category where she was an excellent 7th. We have the resources to perform much better in this category, evidence of this can be seen in the results from the Wessex League 2012/2013 season. This is an area we need to work on.

The senior men’s team have had a season to remember. The club first joined the Hampshire League in 2008 and since that point our cross-country section has recorded a steady upturn in its fortunes particularly for the juniors. In the case of the senior men, the teams are divided into three divisions, two for veteran men, naturally back in 2008 we started in the basement. In our first season 2008/2009 we were promoted into the Senior Men’s Division Two in a nail-biting finish as runners-up. Over the next few seasons we established ourselves as a mid-table Division 2 side – indeed last season we were only 6th of 10.

Year on year Graeme Furley consistently topped our senior men’s averages, while at the same time he was giving great to support to our emerging junior talent. The fruit of that labour was to pay a big dividend in the 2012/2013 season with the emergence of Callum Kennedy from the junior ranks into the senior team – hopefully this will become a continuing trend in coming years, with plenty of others looking capable of making a similar impact in due course. Added to this, a fresh wave of enthusiasm, particularly from the newer blood amongst the roadrunners, was to provide another rich source of talent. Our first race of the season saw a team at Farley Mount, which had a very traditional look to it personnel-wise compared with previous seasons – but with one exception. Steve Wyatt made his cross-country debut, it was a day on which the sun shone and Steve was our third man across the line that day behind Callum and Graeme. Best of all Steve had really enjoyed the day and absolutely bought into the culture of the cross-country team. He then became our chief recruitment officer amongst our roadrunners – dragging Tjiwoldt (Tjiwi) Wierda and Mark Buffery along to Goodwood for race 2. By the time we got to Kings Park he’d convinced Dave Brylewski and WAC’s top roadrunner in 2012, Richard Swindlehurst, to commit to cross-country. Naturally these developments made a huge difference to what the team was capable of achieving. Added to this Rob Anderson and Pete Kingswell-Farr were recruited as their talented kids were taking their first steps in cross-country. These new faces complemented our old hands, the likes of Baz Barry, Simon Bourne, Mark Copeland, Iain Donnelly, Rich House and Gerry and John Hutchings.

At the first race WAC’s top 5 scored 455 points and were surprised to see that put us second in the Division Two table. At the next meeting (Goodwood) a much stronger team, which included an all too rare appearance of London-based Colin Read (slotting in between Callum and Graeme) gave us a very strong spearhead and scored just 334 points – we were first Div. 2 team on the day and suddenly we were top of the league. At this point we dared to dream that promotion might be possible. At the next meeting (Popham) we had our weakest team performance of the campaign (only 4th), but we were still in the runners-up spot so promotion was still within our grasp. The next race at Kings Park was our most local one, and it was for this meeting that efforts were intensified to strengthen the team further. It worked, we set a new record score for a WAC men’s team score of 251 points (a massive improvement) – and we were back on top of the table, and in control of our destiny with one race to go. 

The league table at that point had us at the top with Eastleigh, just ahead of Haslemere Border, breathing down our necks. These three clubs had broken away from the rest of the teams in the league – clearly one of these three clubs was going to miss out on promotion, we were determined it wasn’t going to be WAC. With a team dominated by veteran runners (the exceptions were Callum, Graeme and John) we were also rising up the Senior Veterans table where we were in second place in Division Two (a promotion spot) behind clear leaders City of Portsmouth. We were well aware that one more push could see us win a double promotion.

Prior to the men’s race we were particularly interested to look out for the vests of Eastleigh and those of Haslemere Border – were they as up for this as we were? Five minutes to race time we were pumped and ready to go and had a group huddle. We hadn’t seen any Haslemere vests at this point. Then we saw them! They were the other side of the tents, having a huddle of their own. They, at least, were not going to roll over for us.

We were going to need some big performances. Callum had hit a rich vein of form after an impressive Schools cross-country race the previous weekend whilst representing Dorset, and he also recorded a 1500m time inside his PB in a training session during the week. With confidence high, he ran his best ever race in the Hampshire League. Although Callum wasn’t headed by a red vest all season, his form inspired Graeme to what is easily his best season. Despite Callum claiming the highest ever finish by a WAC senior men’s runner, he still had a Haslemere Border runner one place ahead of him, and there was another one placed between him and Graeme (who was also recording his best ever run in the Hampshire League). We needed the cavalry! The placing of our next three vests would be crucial. Could we outscore Haslemere’s final three point scorers?  It was a relief to see Richard and Steve cross the line just nine seconds apart with Tjiwi nailing the final score for the team. It felt like we’d done enough. We certainly had – 189 points for the team – smashing previous WAC records. Haslemere had scored 254 points and Eastleigh 262. We were promoted as champions and Eastleigh, as runners-up, would be joining us in Division One. But what of the Men’s Veterans League? City of Portsmouth seemed to have an unassailable lead in the tables prior to the race, but inexplicably they failed to field a full team so sank from top of the division to 5th. This promoted us to the top of the table. We were first Division Two Veterans team on the day and Haslemere Border, who were second on the day, claimed the other promotion spot.

Now the work really starts – we are in Division One with some of the elite clubs of Southern England. Next season we will do battle with  Aldershot, Farnham & District; Reading AC; Southampton; Basingstoke; Winchester; Bournemouth, City of Portsmouth and Overton Harriers. It’s going to be tough, with the points we scored this term we would have survived, just, in the top flight – we would have finished 8th out of 10, outscoring Overton as well as the relegated clubs – Andover and Reading Roadrunners. Clearly we’ve got a job on our hands!

We’re one of four Dorset clubs in the Hampshire League, in the men’s category the strongest Dorset team is Bournemouth, who finished 6th in Division 1. Dorset’s other teams had mixed fortunes. Poole AC won promotion from Division Three, but this was at the expense of the relegated Poole Runners. Hamworthy Harriers remain In Division Three.

Wimborne AC results were:

Under-13 Girls (61 finishers)

60 – Elise Gill – 12:44 (48th in league averages)

Grace Copeland did not run at Salisbury but finished the season a medalist in 3rd place in the averages.

Under-13 Boys (54 finishers) –

   WAC 5th team on the day (8th in final league table)

13 – Tom Bourne – 11:46  (medalist – 3rd in league averages)
21 – Liam Murphy Parry – 12.15
23 – Matt Yates – 12:29 (22nd in league averages)
51 – Jamie Anderson – 15:18

Under-15 Girls (55 finishers)  –

   WAC 5th team on the day (6th in final league table)

16 – Abbie Hine – 12:45  (15th in league averages)
19 – Maddie Williams – 13:00 (20th in league averages)
28 – Ella Hearne – 13:41  (31st in league averages)
39 – Abi Deeble – 14:14

Under-15 Boys (57 finishers) –

   WAC 8th team on the day (4th in final league table)

12 – Piers Copeland – 14:25 (8th in league averages)
14 – Jason Sotheran – 15:01 (medalist 5th in league averages)
46 – Ollie Davies – 17:14
53 – Tom Boulton – 18:02 (35th in league averages)

Under-17 Women (23 finishers)

17 – Sharon Hutchings – 18:16 (9th in overall season averages)

Under-17 Men (37 finishers)

18 – Ryan Walbridge – 19:12 (13th in overall season averages)
31 – Josh Downie – 21:15 (27th in overall season averages)

Senior Women (70 finishers)

39 – Lynn Hutchings – 25:07  (21st in overall season averages, 7th in Vets averages)

Senior Men (142 finishers) – 1st team

  WAC 1st Div 2 senior team on the day (1st in final league table)

 WAC 1st Div 2 veterans team on the day (1st in final league table)

17 – Callum Kennedy – 33:48     (17th in overall season averages, 5th under-20)
30 – Graeme Furley – 34:51       (25th in overall season averages)
41 – Richard Swindlehurst – 36:00
43 – Steve Wyatt – 36:09           (35th in overall season averages, 6th in Vets)
58 – Tjiwolt Wierda – 37:50
91 – Baz Barry – 40:48
95 – Iain Donnelly – 41:03
123 – Rob Anderson – 45:04
136 – Ian Kennedy – 51:07         (91st in overall season averages, 57th in Vets)

Mark Copeland missed this meeting through injury, but finished 63rd in the averages for the season and 27th in Vets category

Congratulations to WAC’s Hampshire League Medal winners for the 2012/2013 season:

Individuals

U13G – Grace Copeland – 3rd place

U13B – Tom Bourne – 3rd place

U15B – Jason Sotheran – 5th place

Teams

Senior Men’s Team – Hampshire League Division 2 Champions

Men’s Veterans Team – Hampshire League Division 2 Champions

Full results for the Hampshire League will be found at

http://www.hampshireathletics.org.uk/events/hxcl.html

 

 
 
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