Wimborne Athletic Club

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XC awards get messy and competitive!  – 29 March 2015 

Ian Kennedy reports from Camouflage paintball!

An afternoon of madness and mayhem paintballing at Camouflage near Hurn brought down the curtain another successful cross-country season for Wimborne AC. Our athletes are no less competitive when they turn their hands to other things!

This season has been a thrilling ride for the WAC XC team. The hors d’oevres were served up during September/October in the form of team relay events at Rushmore Arena and Wormwood Scrubs. There were some terrific results at these fixtures, not the least of which was Tom Bourne recording the fastest time in his age group at Rushmore. If anything, the under-15s (boys and girls) teams performances at Wormwood Scrubs around a month later were even better. These results really raised the profile of Wimborne AC, we were in there mixing it with the biggest clubs in southern England.

We opened our Wessex League account at Avon Heath in early October with almost 40 athletes competing for us, and our first Hampshire League fixture was at Farley Mount, where we bagged race winners in both under-15s races, thanks to Grace Copeland and Tom Bourne.

From then onwards, there were thrills and spills all the way with Wimborne athletes fulfilling our league fixtures in both Hampshire and Wessex leagues and competing in the County Championships, South West England Championships, Dorset Schools Championships, South of England Championships, South West Schools Championships and the National Championships.

The season then climaxed over two weekends in March when our elite athletes were selected to represent Dorset at the Inter-Counties Championships in Birmingham and the National Schools Championships in Blackburn. Over the course of the season there had been four opportunities to represent Dorset and to wear the coveted green county vest. An extraordinary 34 WAC athletes managed this during the 2014/2015 season. We were the best represented club by a margin in the Dorset team at both of the big fixtures at the end of the season.

Having seen around two hours of paintball action we turned our attention to presentations. There were awards from the two leagues we compete in, the Dorset County Championships and our club awards.

The league awards are based on aggregates which accumulate over the course of the season. Wessex League awards went to:

3rd U13G – Abbie Lovering,
2nd  U15G – Lucy Ballam,
2nd U15B – Joey Kelliher,
2nd U17M – Piers Copeland,
2nd U20M – Ryan Walbridge.

Our two Wessex League Champions were Grace Copeland (U15) and Jason Sotheran (U17).

The team performances in the Wessex League saw us finish:

3rd – U11B,
7th – U11G,
1st – U13G,
2nd – U13B,
1st – U15G,
1st U15B,
2nd – U17W,
1st – U17M.
Our senior men’s team finished 5th.

From the Hampshire League there were individual medals for:

Lucy Ballam – 5th U15,
Tom Bourne – 3rd U15
and Grace Copeland was U15s Hampshire League Champion.

The County Championships took place at Canford in December and medals from this event were presented. We had four County Champions to celebrate –

Grace Copeland (U15),
Tom Bourne (U15),
Jason Sothern (U17)
and Charlotte Bourne (U20).

All three of our silver medallists had been denied top spot by their own team mates – Lucy Ballam (U15), Piers Copeland (U17) and Becca Skeats (U20). Bronze medals were won by Abbie Lovering (U13) and Joey Kelliher (U15). Although we didn’t manage a county 1-2 in the under-15 boys, we did fill four of the top five places!

Turning our attention to the club awards we started by rewarding those who have committed to race for the team in all the league races. Wessex Fidelity awards went to: Tom Fuller (U11); Charlie Davies, Anna Kelliher, Fern and Tom Morrison (all U13); Joey Kelliher (U15), Jason Sotheran (U17) and Maddie Williams (U20). Hampshire Fidelity awards were won by: Beth Kingswell-Farr and Zach Fenwick (both U13s); Grace Copeland, Lucy Anderson, Elise Gill, Tom Bourne (all U15s); Abbie Hine and Piers Copeland (both U17), and seniors Mark Copeland, Richard Davies and Pete Kingswell-Farr. Super Fidelitys are presented to the few who competed in all league races. In 2014/15 these were: Abbie Lovering (U13), Lucy Ballam and Michael Johnson (U15s) and senior Paul Hine.

Team of the year award was a close fought tussle with particularly strong claims from our under-15 teams. The rising stars in the under-13 girls team edged it, however. They were Wessex League Champions, and more than half of the county team at the Inter-Counties were from Wimborne. The girls who represented us over the winter were: Jess Bourne, Hannah Fairchild, Anna Kelliher, Beth and Izzie Kingswell-Farr, Abbie Lovering, Amy Mercer, Fern Morrison, Holly Nixon and Sophia Orr.

The Female Rookie of the Year Trophy went to Holly Nixon. She joined right at the end of the track season, started well and steadily improving as the season progressed. The corresponding trophy for the males went to Joey Kelliher. Joey has been with us a little longer, having got a few track meetings under his belt last summer. It’s hard to see Joey as a rookie as we’ve seen so much of him (although this is his first XC season), he rarely missed a training session. Holly and Joey both show a strong desire to improve coupled with a willingness to put the work in every week. Their performances have steadily improved over the season.

It was a tough call to decide who should be awarded the ‘Most Improved Runner’ trophies. For the girls the decision went to Lucy Ballam. Over the course of a season most of us have good and bad races, there was little evidence of this from Lucy who just looked better pretty well every time she laced up her running shoes. The only real exception to this was at English Schools where her decent enough performance for the team didn’t fully reflect what she was capable of – she’d been off school sick the day before the trip to Blackburn and still had a heavy cold and had lost her voice.

The ‘Most Improved Male Runner’ was probably even more hotly contested. The verdict went to Matt Yates. He’s been chasing down his team mates all season and closing the gaps. They’ve been improving too, so he’s been aiming at moving targets. Matt is probably wishing the cross-country season could continue for a little longer, but we are hoping he’ll carry this extra speed onto the track this summer. There were probably around half-a-dozen others who could make a claim on this title, so well won Matt.

This brings us to our ‘Top Cross-Country Runners’ (both male and female) and I guess there were no surprises here. The early season form of Tom Bourne and Grace Copeland brought them to the attention of Athletics Weekly where they were the featured athletes in an article headlined ‘The Wimborne Way’. Click here for a link to that article.

Grace finished the season as Wessex League Champion, Hampshire League Champion and Dorset County Champion (in all three she is bottom of age-group). Tom was also County Champion in his age-group and claimed third place in the Hampshire League against some top quality runners.

Our season has been well documented on the club website. ‘Reporter of the Year’ went to Charlie Davies. He did two cracking reports from the South of England Championships at Brighton and the Nationals at Parliament Hill. Charlie is only 12 years-old, they were beautifully written and required little or no input from anyone else. Charlie wasn’t the only athlete to post a report, there was another fine piece from Jason Sotheran on the Inter-Counties at Birmingham too.

The final trophy of the day is the silver cup – ‘The Jean Frost Trophy’. This is awarded to someone who contributes to the team overall. The very fact that we have so many people working together with so much enthusiasm to achieve the best we can for the club in cross-country makes selecting a winner a difficult decision. It’s a good problem to have! This season’s very worth winner is Richard Davies. Richard is one of a number who wouldn’t think twice about supporting and helping a squad member in any way he can. He’s a qualified coach, team bus driver, and thinks nothing of doing whatever it takes to get people to and from training/races, and he regularly operates one of the groups in the sessions at Blandford, and much else besides. On top of all that he was a contender for ‘Most Improved Runner’ too!

So that wraps up another successful cross-country season awards. Kerry Mapp (from our senior men’s team), made this observation at the end of the presentations, he said something along the lines of when he first trained with XC squad he found it to be intensely competitive, but also extremely supportive. That’s a good combination, and as long as we can maintain that there will be further successes in the future.

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