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Storming the hills at Yeovil – 5 November 2017

Ian Kennedy reports from Wessex League XC at Aldon Country Park

The u17, u20, and senior women await the gun

Race 3 of the Wessex League took us to the exposed spot that is Aldon Country Park, just outside Yeovil; fortunately the weather gods smiled on us.  We were just shy of 50 Wimborne runners on the day, the most we’ve ever taken to Yeovil.  Indeed the numbers in all the races from all the clubs were well up when compared to previous years.  It’s a testing course, and absolutely fabulous from a spectator’s point of view.  It was particularly pleasing to see how well WAC athletes performed on the notorious zig-zag path to the finish line.  That hill training on Cranfield Avenue seems to be paying off!

The meeting got underway with the under-11 girls’ race, surely this is the most testing course for our under-11s anywhere.  The team was led in by Imogen Rawles with Evie Fuller just 10 seconds back.  Isabelle Hawker claimed the final point-scoring position, and the team was completed by Georgia Slade.  All four of these girls have competed in all the Wessex League races so far, and with one meeting to go, there are Fidelity Awards up for grabs at the end of the season bash for those of these four who compete at Bryanston on 10 December.  The girls’ team came 4th.

Under-11 girls (33 finishers) – 4th team

19 – Imogen Rawles – 9:24
21 – Evie Fuller – 9:34
30 – Isabelle Hawker – 10:13
32 – Georgia Slade – 13:07

Seven Wimborne runners in the under-11 boys’ race was a particularly fine turnout.  Jack Williams, in a highly creditable 5th, was first WACer home.  Ollie Green was in next and was in eye-catching form, his best race so far came on the toughest course he’s faced.  There was little between the two Archies (Cunningham and Downie), but it was Archie C who claimed the third team score.  Tom Williams was in next, with Jack Doran and Alfie Broocks completing our team.  We were third team on the day.

Under-11 boys (30 finishers) – 3rd team

5 – Jack Williams – 8:04
9 – Ollie Green – 8:37
16 – Archie Cunningham – 8:53
17 – Archie Downie – 8:56
19 – Tom Williams – 9:09
26 – Jack Doran – 9:51
30 – Alfie Broocks – 11:39

Our under-13 girls’ team is showing real promise this season and on this occasion Sarah Graham and Iris Courtney led the charge for us.  Isabella Cox’s race (our third point scorer) was particularly pleasing; she really laid the ghost of her race at Yeovil from the previous year.  It’s great to see such resilience in a young athlete.  We’ve got strength throughout the u13 girls’ squad and there were fine runs from Kate Simmonds and Ruby Sargeant too.  The team came third on the day.

Under-13 girls (30 finishers) – 3rd team

3 – Sarah Graham – 12:17
4 – Iris Courtney – 12:22
12 – Isabella Cox – 13:27
19 – Kate Simmonds – 13:50
21 – Ruby Sargeant – 14:05

Oscar Davis looked in fine form and seemed to relish the hills as he was first red vest home in 7th.  The ever-dependable Jay Dunn was next, with Teddy Mercer claiming the third team members’ score to bring the team a second place finish.  Our team was completed by Joe Healey.

Under-13 boys (18 finishers) – 2nd team

7 – Oscar Davis – 12:08
10 – Jay Dunn – 12:22
12 – Teddy Mercer – 12:58
14 – Joe Healey – 13:07

Our under-17 women’s team are certainly enjoying the 2017 Wessex League season.  With only two to score in this age-group, and with Amy Mercer 2nd and Hannah Slater 3rd it was an emphatic team win for the third race in a row.  As if to reinforce this, Beth Kingswell-Farr also claimed 4th place.  The team was completed by Izzie Kingswell-Farr and Emma Graham in 8th and 10th respectively.  Molly Slade also started for us, but pulled up with breathing issues on the final lap.  With one Wessex League race remaining Amy Mercer is 1st in the averages with Beth Kingswell-Farr 3rd.

Under-17 women (10 finishers) – 1st team

2 – Amy Mercer – 20:25
3 – Hannah Slater – 21:12
4 – Beth Kingswell-Farr – 22:01
8 – Isabelle Kingswell-Farr – 24:30
10 – Emma Graham – 28:12

Michael Johnson and Josh Davey have been the mainstays of our under-17 men’s Wessex team as they claimed their third team win in as many Wessex League races.  For Michael it was especially sweet as he also claimed his first win of the Wessex season.  It was a fine run, with distance to make up with one lap done, his second lap was a strong one as he eventually put some time between himself and the second-placed runner.  With only one race to go Michael and Josh lie in 2nd and 3rd respectively in the season’s averages.  Both are on target to claim Fidelity Awards come the end of the season.

Under-17 men (9 finishers) – 1st team

1 – Michael Johnson– 17:58
4 – Josh Davey – 19:31

The women’s race was run in parallel with the under-17s race.  Of those under-20 or senior women, our first home was Minty Stubbs.  This type of course suited the strong running style and never-say-die attitude that she brings to races (Minty was 7th woman, but third u20.)  Hannah Acquah was our next in (with u17 Beth Kingswell-Farr giving her plenty to think about along the way).  Jess Kennedy claimed the third scoring position for the women, with Lesley Davies and Tina Mercer completing the team as we came 4th on the day.

Senior women (25 finishers) – 4th team

7 – Minty Stubbs – 21:44 (3rd u20)
              – 3rd u20 in averages
9 – Hannah Acquah – 22:08
17 – Jess Kennedy – 26:40
20 – Lesley Davies – 27:49
24 – Tina Mercer– 28:36

Emily Shaw won the under-15 girls’ race convincingly; exactly a minute separated her from the second-placed athlete.  There was excellent support for her from her team-mates; they were first team on the day.  Holly Nixon and Daisy Baker duked it out for the chance to be next WACer home; eight seconds separated them at the finish line.  Our team was completed by Abbi Slade.  Holly and Daisy have competed in all the Wessex races so far and presently lie 1st and 2nd in the season’s averages.

Under-15 girls (24 finishers) – 1st team

1 – Emily Shaw – 14:31
4 – Holly Nixon – 15:50
5 – Daisy Baker – 15:58
18 – Abbi Slade – 18:49

There is tremendous strength in depth in our under-15 boys’ team.  They recorded their third team win in as many Wessex races.  Little separates our top runners in this age-group; the unknowable is what order our athletes are going to cross the finish line in.  This time around it was Ben Martin, a rapidly improving Tom Fuller, and Seth Lake as point scorers – all finished in the top six.  They had great support from Joel Green, Charlie Davies, Ollie Rawles and Max Meadwell.  After three races the individual averages for the league are headed by five WAC runners:  Seth, Ben, Tom, Charlie and Joel!

Under-15 boys (18 finishers) – 1st team

3 – Ben Martin – 14:15
4 – Tom Fuller – 14:18
6 – Seth Lake – 14:30
9 – Joel Green – 14:55
10 – Charlie Davies – 14:59
14 – Ollie Rawles – 15:33
16 – Max Meadwell – 15:58

The final race of the day was the senior men.  Despite a large field we only had four on the start line.  Amongst them was Ryan Walbridge, he was returning from a short spell out with a calf injury.  It turned out that there was a touch of ‘too much too soon’ and he had to pull up after the first lap.  This meant that the contribution of everyone else became even more important as everyone else would count towards the team score.  Simon Davis led our team home with support from Pete Kingswell-Farr and Richard Davies.

Senior men (59 finishers)

24 – Simon Davis – 34:26
34 – Pete Kingswell-Farr – 36:55
54 – Richard Davies – 44:43

On the day, the news broke that this year’s South West Inter-Counties Championships will take place on this course.  This is good news for WACers, a course that suits many of us, and one that we’ve come to know and love … and not far to travel either!



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