Our annual WAC Cross-Country Awards night took place at Christchurch Ski Centre this year. It was great to see so many of those who played a significant part in our XC season in attendance. The night started with time spent in the ringos. These are rubber tyres which you sit in as you slide down an artificial ski slope. A riotous time was had as we hurtled down the steep slope either solo or in tandem, straight or spinning. Dragging the tyres back up the slope was a good core strength session!
After about 30 minutes we headed inside for the presentations. Absolutely key to the team’s success over the year has been getting our runners out consistently in the league races. With some pretty atrocious weather over the winter, for the first time for many years we actually had some races cancelled. In the Hampshire League the Reading race was lost to snow and ice and in the Wessex League the race at Langport was cancelled due to the course being under water, the adjacent river having burst its banks. This left us with four fixtures in each league to fulfil. Fidelity medals are awarded to those who compete in all races in each league and for the few who compete in every race in both leagues we have the Super Fidelity Awards. Hampshire League Fidelity Awards went to Daryl Davies, Graeme Furley, Abbie Hine, Ian Kennedy, Jerry Shield and Graham Whiffen. Wessex League Fidelity Awards went to Grace Copeland, Piers Copeland, Paul Hine, Paula Hine and Pippa Hine. Super Fidelity Awards went to Lynn Hutchings, Callum Kennedy and Ryan Walbridge.
The next trophy to be presented was for Rookie of the Year. This was awarded to Abbie Hine. It was Abbie’s first season as an XC runner, and she made amazing progress. By the end of the year she had represented Dorset Schools in the South-West Championships at Truro, where she was the first Dorset girl in her age group, and Dorset County Athletics Association County team in the Inter-Counties Championships in Birmingham.
Probably the most fiercely fought over trophies were those for the most improved runner in both male and female categories. We had so many runners who you could argue a strong case for. The trophies went to brother and sister pairing Piers and Grace Copeland. Grace has been well up the field in the under-11s category all year, finishing the league second in her age group. She has been terrorizing the boys all season in the mixed races. Piers is one of the youngest in his age group, he was given special permission to compete in the under-13s race in the Wessex League from the outset, but in the Hampshire races he had to wait until his 11th birthday before he was allowed to take part. Piers came 3rd in the averages in the Wessex League and he finished with a real flourish, claiming his first league win at the final race of the season at Avon Heath.
Next came the presentations to the top male and female runners. Sharon Hutchings is in her second season with us and she started with a bang at Farley Mount in the Hampshire League. Sharon finished 8th, the highest placing at that point from any WACer in any age group, in the Hampshire League. Her season suffered a few ups and downs along the way, largely due to a chest infection that took a long time to clear up. Despite this Sharon still finished top of the WAC averages in both leagues and she claimed her first league race win at Ham Hill in the Wessex League. She went on to win the under-13 girls Wessex Champion’s trophy and was team leader in the Championship-winning under-13 girls team. The team title was won due to the superb support Sharon received from her team mates – Abbie Hine and Chloe Morris in particular.
Ryan Walbridge was awarded the top male runners trophy. Ryan was discovered winning in a one mile fun run in the Tarrant Valley, his home patch, last summer, and he was invited to come and train with us. Nothing in the early training sessions prepared us for what we were to see in the races. Ryan’s first race was an outstanding 9th place, and this proved to be his lowest placing all through a remarkably consistent season. In the Wessex League he was dominant in his age group, winning his first race at Salisbury. He had sewn up the Wessex under-13 boys Champion’s title with one race to go. Ryan’s form didn’t go unnoticed and he was selected to run for Dorset Schools in the South-West Championships in Truro, his performance there ensured his selection to the National Schools Cross-Country Championships at Manchester. Ryan also pulled on a County vest at the Inter-Counties Championships at Birmingham, where he was joined by his fast improving teammate Piers.
The final award was the prestigious Jean Frost Trophy which is awarded for service to the cross-country team over the season. This was won by the Hine Family. The whole family competed. In the Wessex League Paul, Paula and Pippa won Wessex Fidelity Awards and Abbie won a Hampshire Fidelity. Both Paul and Paula were Wessex League Champions in their age-groups, with Abbie third in hers and Pippa just outside the medal positions in 4th place in the under-11s. This apart, the Jean Frost Trophy is awarded for service to others and it is here that the Hines proved invaluable. Paul has played a key role in helping and support with coaching, and providing transport on training and race days. Paula was excellent on race days preparing our young athletes for their races, and of course Abbie and Pippa have shown tremendous commitment to their running all season. The Hines are very worthy winners of this trophy.
We are extremely fortunate as the Hines, of course, are not the only ones who have made significant contributions to our 2009/2010 season. The commitment shown by all involved is very much appreciated. Thank you for the role you have all played in Wimborne’s most successful cross-country season so far.