Fifty six North Somerset AC athletes turned out for fixture number three of the Gwent Cross Country League at Blaise Castle on Saturday, where Ideal conditions made for excellent racing. This local fixture usually tempts many young athletes to try cross country for the first time and this was no exception, with some talented youngsters from the club having their first run.
The U15 girls were led once again by the consistent Megan McCrum, and despite suffering a heavy cold she finished a solid 18th from a very strong field of runners. Relative newcomer and bottom age Ruth Day continues to improve with every race and she’ll be pleased with her performance in finishing 24th. Next home was Lucy Maine in 40th followed very closely by Maisie Squire 41st and bottom age Ellie Maule 43rd running very well in her first cross country for two seasons.
The U11 boys race saw Louis Raymond have his best run to date, and by quite a distance at that. Without his twin brother Bodie for company, who was suffering a virus, his 16th place finish in a field of well over 100 showed the true potential that he and no doubt Bodie possess. Whilst debutants Herbie Cooksley and Zeki Harston (both bottom age athletes) will be encouraged for sure at finishing in the lofty positions of 36th and 38th respectively from such a large field. Sam Holloway was next through the gate in 50th with bottom age Jacob Forsbrook in 63rd, whilst year 3 Peter Briffet (probably the youngest athlete in the field) finished strongly in 94th.
Keira Devereux showed her true potential the previous week by becoming Avon Primary Schools Champion with a run of maturity beyond her years. In another huge Gwent league filed of novice runners, competition was fierce at the front and Keira once again showed her class with her highest Gwent finish to date in 14th place. Newcomers Rosa Ford (Y5) and Blythe Jones will surely want to compete again after such promising debuts, as will Poppy Adams and Anna Farnell who were equally impressive as they finished 24th, 27th, 28th and 30th respectively. Emma O’Connor will also be pleased with her 41st place as will other debutants Abigail Briffitt and young Amelie Dorrington in 41st and 62nd place respectively.
U20 Joe Gentry was looking to build on his excellent race win at Brecon last month, and things were looking good as he sat just behind the front two approaching the later stages of the race. However, tragedy struck when Joe went over on his ankle in the wooded section of the course and all he could do was ensure that he finished and keep himself in the hunt for end of season honors. David Warnes role of assisting Joe to top of the leader board became one of helping himself following Joe’s demise, and a very strong finish took him to 7th place overall.
In the same race the club had a record number of U17 boys running with Callum Smith leading the team once again for a 14th place finish overall. Luca Murray finished in 23rd whilst newcomer Will Fuller had a terrific debut run in a show of great team running with David Hazen as they finished 29th and 30th respectively. Jaylan Bacon was another to feel the effects of the stony ground at the wooded section and was a little disappointed with his 33rd place.
The U13 boys were next up and the team had a record number of 11 athletes running. Multi-talented Harrison Garland hadn’t run a cross country since an injury last year and with little training under his belt he still managed a fantastic 13th place finish. Debutant William Scott looks to be a real find and his lofty position of 24th is a sure sign of good things to come from him in future races. Will Maine, Louie Brunsdon, another debutant Reuben Dean, Emile Swanson and Guy Owen all pushed each other along in a tight group to finish 29th, 32nd, 33rd, 35th and 38th respectively. Whilst Ollie Andrews 44th, debutant Alex Moore 47th, Cameron Baker-Perry 53rd, and Lewis Lazenby 61st completed the team scores.
Connie Ballantine made a timely return to form, leading the U13 girls’ team to their strongest performance of the season. An 11th place finish will no doubt encourage Connie, as it will team mate Ruby Owen with her 16th place finish. They ran very well together with ex club athlete Alice Bridger-Morales who also performed strongly at the front end of the field. Bottom age Daisy Manners-Lolley showed exceptional promise in only her 2nd event, finishing 24th with Stephanie Brooks finishing close behind in 31st place. Another debutant and bottom age athlete Abigail Taylor was a bag of nerves before her race, but she needn’t have worried, performing admirably to record 35th from a field of over 70. Ella Johnston finished 41st in her first event of the season whilst Alysha Forsbrook and debutant Hannah Mougeot both ran well to finish 49th and 53rd respectively.
The U15 boys race produced the most exciting finish of the day with our own Sam Gentry once again in the thick of it. Beaten into 2nd place by a controversial short head at Brecon, revenge was sweet for Sam on this occasion, as he took any decision away from the judge by clearly out sprinting his rival from Westbury in a dramatic finale. Sam’s team mates ran well to record their highest respective finishes of the campaign so far with Kes Pitchers crossing the line in 26th and Will Cheek having a tremendous run just three places further back in 29th. Alex Collins continues to improve and his 39th will give him more confidence going into the next event.
Rachel Foyle was again the clubs sole senior lady and she was happy with her 106th place from a 300 plus field, as was ex junior club athlete Ellie Wallace with her 7th place finish in her first lady’s race. Alys Withers ran well in the combined U17/U20’s race securing a very good 15th place overall.
The senior mens team were hoping to top their division after this one, and despite losing current lead runner James Rodgers before the race they recorded their highest score of the season. Josh Davis’s 10th place finish is a sure sign that his fitness is returning after a lack of early season training, whilst Alan Baker made a welcome return to the team with a strong run to finish 78th. After several years of relative inactivity Club Coach Julian Emery has the race bug again. A leading athlete on the cross country circuit in his prime, the GB V40 athlete finished 6th V45 and 85th overall on a tough track at Blaise despite twisting his ankle during the last lap of the course. Cameron Coetzee also made the top 100 (98th) with a strong run and Russ Forsbrook completed the teams score with a solid run in 125th place.
Senior Mens Team