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Cross-country awards 2016/2017 season – 25 March 2017

 Ian Kennedy reports from Activate, Ferndown

This year’s winners of the Jean Frost Trophy – The Kingswell-Farrs

With another cross-country season (almost) at a close it was time to reflect on another cracking winter of achievement.  This year’s end of season awards ‘do’ was held at Activate trampoline park at Ferndown.  We had a terrific turnout, just shy of 40 athletes on the trampolines, plus other members of the WAC XC community there to show their support.  After an hour of trampolining, or enjoying coffee and Purbeck Ices in the café, it was time for the presentations.

The function room we were using was crammed to overflowing, as we got proceedings underway.  Although many of our athletes qualify for the big meetings of the cross-country season, it is the two local leagues – Wessex and Hampshire – that are the proving grounds.  Reward for representing the club in all the league races in a season comes in the form of fidelity awards.  There were a staggering 24 athletes who represented the club in every Wessex League race.  These came from right across the age-groups.  In the under-11s we had Amelia and Grace Chaffey, Ruby Sargeant and Kate Simmonds; the under-13s were Jay Dunn, Joe Goodwin, Ben Harwood, Joe Healey and Ollie Rawles; under-15s were Demi Goddard, Emma Graham, Beth and Izzie Kingswell-Farr, Amy Mercer, Holly Nixon, Martha Pawson, Seth Lake, Ben Martin and Jack Moss-Willcox; under-17s were Hannah Slater and Minty Stubbs; Ryan Walbridge (U20); and seniors Alicia Pawson and Pete Kingswell-Farr.  Of these Ollie, Holly, Demi, Beth and Izzie, Ryan and Pete also competed in every Hampshire League race too, and so were awarded ‘Super Fidelity’ trophies.  In addition to this there were Hampshire League fidelity medals for Emma Martin (U20) and Jess Kennedy (senior).

We then presented the Wessex League awards.  Wimborne AC was Wessex League Champions in six categories – under-13 boys, under-15 boys and girls, under-17 men and women, and senior women.  Anyone who finished in a point-scoring position for a championship-winning team was presented with a certificate.  There was an impressive 37 of them.  They were: Tom Fuller, Joe Goodwin, Joel Green, Matthew Lissenburg and Ollie Rawles (all U13B); Lulu King, Abbie Lovering, Amy Mercer, Holly Nixon and Martha Pawson (U15G); Josh Davey, Charlie Davies, Seth Lake, Ben Martin, Max Meadwell, Jack Moss-Willcox and Harry O’Donoghue; Grace Copeland, Caitlin Rogers, Hannah Slater and Minty Stubbs (U17W); Dan Baynham, Tom Bourne, Ed Dart, Michael Johnson, Joey Kelliher and Elliott Symes (U17M); Hannah Acquah, Mary Butler, Karila Faulkner, Di Jack, Jess, Kennedy, Olivia Manson, Emma Martin, Grace Palmer, Alicia Pawson and Maddie Williams.  In the case of the senior women’s team that’s an amazing 10 different athletes in scoring positions.  Those who finished in the top three in the Wessex League in the season’s averages were presented with £5 gift vouchers from Sweat Shop.  We had two individual Wessex League Champions – Ben Martin and Hannah Slater, with Tom Fuller and Amy Mercer runners-up in the overall standings, and third places were claimed by Ollie Rawles, Holly Nixon, Michael Johnson, Minty Stubbs, Ryan Walbridge (U20) and Pete Kingswell-Farr (men’s vet).

In the Hampshire League there were individual medals for Hannah Slater (silver) and Abbie Lovering (bronze).  The under-15 girls’ team was third overall and there were team medals for all of the girls who competed for us in that league – Jess Bourne, Hannah Fairchild, Demi Goddard, Beth and Izzie Kingswell-Farr, Anna Kelliher, Lulu King, Abbie Lovering, Holly Nixon and Martha Pawson.

This season is the first time we have had a Hampshire League medalist in the senior (under-20 and above) age-groups.  Making history for WAC is Emma Martin who claimed bronze in the under-20s.  Emma’s medal will be presented at the league’s AGM in June.

With the fidelity and league awards presented, we turn our attention to the club trophies.  With so many active athletes and some fine results too, there were some very difficult decisions to make.  Our female ‘Rookie of the Year’ was Sarah Graham.  She’s had a great season despite having to overcome injury.  Her highlight would be leading home the Dorset Minors Girls’ team at the South West Schools Championships in Truro.  Her male counterpart is Seth Lake.  His first competitive race in club colours was in early November, he seems to have been involved in pretty well everything since.  There is little hint of ‘rookieness’ in his performances.  In his first season he’s represented Dorset at the South Wests and Inter-Counties and South West Schools and English Schools championships.

Choosing the ‘Most Improveds’ is the devil’s own job in a squad where there are many contenders.  The very strong under-15 girls’ team seemed a likely source for a recipient, but with so many who on their day can beat their team-mates who do you choose?  The decision went to Amy Mercer – she’s running, quite justifiably, with much greater confidence and conviction than last year and has been selected to represent Dorset on four occasions this season.  For the boys the decision has gone to Matt Yates who has certainly raised his game.  Biathlon fixture clashes sometimes limit his appearances, but we’ve seen him on seven occasions over the winter.  He just looks so much stronger than in previous years.  Matt qualified for his first English Schools this season.

Probably the easiest pick of the day was ‘Top Female Runner’.  The winner was Emily Shaw who had the best possible excuse for not being at the Awards in person … she was making her England debut in a home international against All Ireland, Scotland and Wales.  It is an extraordinary climax to an extraordinary first cross-country season with the club.  Emily is Dorset Schools Champion; she was runner-up in both the South West England Championships and South of England Championships and 4th at the Inter-Counties.  It was her 4th place at the English Schools Championships that won her selection to represent England … a feat that hasn’t been managed by a Dorset athlete for quite a few years now.

If choosing the top female was perhaps the easiest task, then the top male was perhaps the most difficult.  I took into account, to some extent, the number of times people raced over the winter.  In Tom Bourne we have a county champion, but he hasn’t been competing very much this season.  Tom Fuller got the verdict, every time he raced for us in league races he was first WAC in age-group (U13).  An honourable mention should also go to Ben Martin who was under-15 Wessex League Champion.  Tom and Ben are both great assets to the team, there’s never any fuss and they quietly get on with the job at hand.  This really was a very difficult one to call.

The other extremely difficult decision was for ‘Team of the year’.  As mentioned earlier the under-13 boys, both under-15 teams, both under-17 teams and the senior women were all Wessex League Champions.  The under-15 girls were also bronze medalists in the Hampshire League and South West England Champions.  The under-15 girls won the team trophy in 2016, and in 2015 many of the same athletes were part of our top team … the under-13 girls.  I don’t think it’s too outrageous a claim to say that our under-15 girls are amongst the best in the country in that age-group.  However, the under-15s were not the only ones worthy of consideration.  While their success was built on solid foundations and didn’t surprise those in the know, the upturn in the fortunes of our senior women’s team was less expected.

At the first race (at Canford Heath) we only just managed to field a full women’s team, it wasn’t until Farley Mount that we saw the first signs of momentum.  Aside from the success in the Wessex League it’s the 5th place in the Hampshire League that is the real ‘wow’, because this is from a start point of almost nowhere.  The Hampshire League currently has 24 women’s team in it; we usually come 20-something.  The only clubs ahead of us this season are the mighty Aldershot, Farnham & District (AFD), Winchester, Reading and Southampton.  We’ve most definitely been punching above our weight.  There are a number of factors in the upturn in results in both leagues.  We’ve got some who’ve stepped out of the junior ranks and are now under-20s so they now count as seniors.  Our under-20s are Mary Butler, Abbie Hine, Emma Martin, Olivia Manson, Grace Palmer and Maddie Williams.  At the South West Championships at Exeter there were no awards for an under-20 team, if there had have been, the Wimborne AC team – consisting of Emma, Mary, Olivia, and Abbie on the day – would have smashed it!  Adding Emma to the WAC ranks has been a major boost, she’s been in the form of her life, and as mentioned earlier her achievement as an individual in the Hampshire League is a historic one for a WAC athlete.  Hannah Acquah from Blandford Camp has been another great contributor in her rookie season.  Becca Ellis, Karila Faulkner, Di Jack and Alicia Pawson have all made their cross-country debuts for WAC this season.  Completing the line-up in the senior women’s team is Jess Kennedy, who’s now an old hand at this game … it’s her second full season.  In her own words she’s been ‘nagger-in-chief’ when it comes to building the team for race day.  The real truth is that there hasn’t had to be too much nagging, because there’s such a strong sense of camaraderie and companionship amongst our women.  There are some fine athletes mentioned above … but there is an immense team spirit.  The parts are good; the sum of the parts is greater!

Having laboured over where to award a couple of trophies, there were no such lengthy deliberations when it came to making the final presentation – The Jean Frost Trophy.  This is awarded for contribution to the club.  It was presented to the Kingswell-Farr family.  They first appeared on the scene in 2012 when Beth and Izzie were under-11s.  Their contribution to the club since that time has been huge.  Collectively they carry around with them an aura of positivity and enthusiasm that would enhance any team.  Pete took his assistant coach’s licence a few years back, and he’s worked so hard for everyone in the squad.  He’s got a great set of ears on him, and athletes find he’s very easy to talk to.  He’s the foundation on which Track Group 4 has been built on over the years.  Pete (along with Ryan Walbridge) has been the mainstay of our senior men’s team in the past two years.  I reckon Izzie has the widest smile of anyone in the club (and the best taste in music of any of the juniors), every winter she’s out there putting it in on cross-country, even though she knows her greatest forte is the shorter stuff on the track.  Beth is a very fine cross-country runner who’s had some ongoing injury issues to deal with.  She has handled these stoically and with maturity.  It’s great to see Beth finish the season looking like she recapturing her best form again.  Unfortunately the upturn came slightly too late to put her in contention for the Dorset teams at the Inter-Counties or English Schools.  Beth, Izzie and Pete make up almost half of those who won Super Fidelity trophies this season (they competed in all nine league races).  Completing ‘Team KF’ is Helen who offers great support to all when she’s in the team tent; we’ve had her racing in red too … although not this season.

That wraps up another memorable cross-country year which has given us so many highlights.  One of the things that has given me the greatest satisfaction was seeing so many qualify to represent their county in the big meetings – the Inter Counties and the English Schools.  Indeed there were record numbers of Wimborne athletes at both those meetings.

Bring on the new track season … let’s see what we can do over 800, 1500, 3000, 5000, etc.

Awards went to:

Hampshire League Fidelity

Emma Martin
Jessica Kennedy

Wessex League Fidelity

Kate Simmonds
Ruby Sargeant
Amelia Chaffey
Grace Chaffey
Joe Goodwin
Jay Dunn
Ben Harwood
Joe Healey
Amy Mercer
Martha Pawson
Emma Graham
Ben Martin
Seth Lake
Jack Moss-Willcox
Hannah Slater
Minty Stubbs
Alicia Pawson

Super Fidelity

Ollie Rawles
Holly Nixon
Demi Goddard
Beth Kingswell-Farr
Izzie Kingswell-Farr
Ryan Walbridge
Pete Kingswell-Farr

Female Rookie of the Year

Sarah Graham

Male Rookie of the Year

Seth Lake

Most Improved Female Runner

Amy Mercer

Most Improved Male Runner

Matt Yates

Top Female Runner

Emily Shaw

Top Male Runner

Tom Fuller

Team of the Year

Senior women

Jean Frost Trophy

The Kingswell-Farr Family

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