Stratford AC juniors just miss out on new club record
STRATFORD AC’s juniors just missed out on a new club record in the West Midland Young Athletes’ Cross Country League meeting at Northampton.
The third race of the season did not take place due to excessive snow, so the fourth race, at the town’s Abington Park, was actually the third race for the club.
A full team and a strong collective performance saw 6,100 points earned — only ten off from a club record — enough to finish third on the day and remain reasonably comfortably in third place in the league overall.
The weather was cool, dry and windless, absolutely ideal for cross country running. The under-17 women’s team made the most of the conditions, with strong performances all round.
Emily Field (14th, 19.32) led the team home closely followed by Imogen Sheppard (16th, 19.54), Abi Wootton (27th, 20.58) and Olivia Hall (29th, 21.05), enabling the team to finish third on the day moving the team up a place to fourth overall after three matches.
The under-11 boys’ race over 1.6km was the usual tremendous tussle, especially round the first bend and Henry Wheeler (36th, 8.01) showed his strength and quality as he made an impressive improvement, leading the team home closely followed by Seb Hillard (42nd, 8.08).
Flynn Dathan (46th, 8.13) recaptured his early season form, closely followed by Hugh Markham (47th, 8.16) who picked up a couple of places in the closing stages.
James Day (59th, 8.27) and Jake Deaner (65th, 8.39) showed amazing consistency by running in exactly the same time as the last race, with Alex McMillan (78th, 8.51), Ed Twyman (82nd, 8.59), Ollie Hemming (89th, 9.10) all making good progress.
The under-11 boys’ team finished in fifth place on the day and remain in sixth place overall, now only 36 points behind fifth place. Three under-17 men started the long two laps, totalling 6km, with the gun; a full team but one less than was expected.
Adam Bayliss (52nd, 29.08) was unfortunately held up in traffic and only made it across the park to the club tent just as the race started.
Quick-thinking coach, Emily Adams, expediently helped with number and pins, ensuring Adam started the race, albeit some five minutes behind everyone else.
However, by competing, Adams ensured a full team finished the race as unfortunately Dan Godefroy had to pull up due to injury.
By doing so, Bayliss earned a vital 149 points for the club, points that would have simply been lost otherwise.
Owain Jones (12th, 19.07) led the team home in his usual confident style, followed by another good run by Ben Jones (44th, 23.05). The under-17 men’s team finished eighth on the day and remain in ninth place overall.
Twelve under-11 girls represented the club — enough for over two full teams — including a wonderful debut performance from Caitlin Boyle (48th, 9.10).
Maddie Linfoot (7th, 8.06), who can be relied upon for first class, consistent running, led the team home, with Scarlett Richardson (10th, 8.12), Niamh Hillard (12th, 8.14), Tessa Parkin (20th, 8.30), Maisie-Joy Spriggs (22nd, 8.31) all making very impressive progress through the season, ensuring the team finished in second place on the day.
Lucy Thomas (38th, 8.57), Tilly Campbell (55th, 9.22), Olivia Hawkyard (56th, 9.24), Ruby Edwards (62nd, 9.31), Harriet Black (66th, 9.37) and Katie Pridham (78th, 10.01) all ran well, taking many points away from the opposition ensuring the team consolidated their third place overall.
The under-15 boys’ team has a healthy intra-club rivalry and this has really helped raise the collective team’s performance.
This is particularly true for Cameron Thomas (33rd, 14.29), who led the team home in relentless, unshakable fashion, closely followed by stunning performances from Fin Hutchinson (38th, 14.33), Cameron Black (43rd, 14.49), Harry Gravelsons (46th, 14.57) and a much-improved Ollie Adams (50th, 15.10).
Solid running from Josh Angus (55th, 15.48), Joel Watson (57th, 15.51) and Ned Campbell (59th, 15.57) completed the team that finished fourth on the day, improving their position to sixth overall.
The under-13 girls’ team raced over 2.5km with Ellie Deaner (13th, 11.48) leading the way, backed up by solid performances from Leah Bowen (19th, 12.03), Tulah Searle (25th, 12.18), Molly Bullock (53rd, 12.50), Olivia Robinson (55th, 12.54), and Georgia Pridham (98th, 15.37), who continues to enjoy and improve her running in equal measure.
A good all-round team effort secured a sixth place finish on the day, with the team falling a place to fifth in the overall standings.
The best three races from the now four matches over the season count for the individual standings.
So, with his third straight league win of the season, Alex Adams (1st, 9.59) secured the honour of individual under-13 boys’ champion.
Adams was under-11 champion last season, and so, in his first season as an under-13, he did not expect to necessarily carry on his winning ways, but with a maturity beyond his years, Adams has calmly and collectively stamped his authority over his competitors.
Adam Taylor (29th, 11.17) was almost chased down by Oscar Fines-Allin (33rd, 11.18), who continues to improve race by race.
Consistent running from Christopher Hunt (41st, 11.32), Theo Skirvin (47th, 11.55) and Alfie Organ (64th, 11.43) completed the under-13 boys’ team that finished fourth on the day, making up ground but remaining in sixth place overall.
The last race of the day, the under-15 girls over 3.2km, saw Georgie Campbell (1st, 13.44) beat her main rival, Ella Semple, Wolverhampton & Bilston, in style by opening up a telling gap on the first long steady climb and then extending her lead gradually over the rest of the course.
Campbell now has two wins, to Semple’s one and with only one race to go and three races to count for individual rankings, she is guaranteed of at least shared honours, and will go to Semple’s home turf in the last fixture with a mission to claim the title outright just for herself.
Fluent running by Ellen Taylor (13th, 14.53) ensured her third consecutive top 15 finish, while Gigi Thomas (34th, 16.03) delighted the partisan Stratford followers with an amazing run, overtaking many competitors on the second lap finishing almost 30 places higher than her debut race.
Ellie Bryan (41st, 16.18), Hope Lawton (58th, 17.50) and Charlotte Gravelsons (62nd, 18.11) all ran well, completing the under-15 girls’ team that finished fourth on the day, slipping to third overall.
The under-15 girls’ team are only nine points from second place and are only 37 points ahead of the fourth placed team, so it is all to play for and defend at the Aldersley Stadium, Wolverhampton, in the last match of the league season.