North Somerset AC athletes had to be at their very best to compete at a highly competitive 2nd Gwent Cross Country League fixture in Cardiff on Sunday, which was combined with the South Wales XC Championships. This they achieved and they’ll now have to wait the customary 2 to 3 weeks for official results to surface, but they’ll be hoping to have done enough to retain their teams’ lofty positions after the 1st fixture in Bridgend last month.
The U11 boys were depleted by the absence of three of their leading athletes, but the three 1st year novice boys that did race can be proud of their efforts, all finishing higher up the field than in their first race. Louie Brunsdon led the trio to finish 42nd with Luke Ashurst and Ted Deakin in 54th and 82nd respectively from a field of over 100.
The U11 girls were just three points off the leaders before this race and although Ruby Owen was missing the team did benefit from the return of Grace Ashurst from injury. Packing well together Charlotte Sidwell brought the girls home in 9th place just in front of Connie Ballentine in 11th with Ashurst just two places back in 13th. Alice Bridger-Morales ran very well to finish in 33rd with Emily Chaffe finishing 54th in her first race of the season. Stephanie Brooks and Matilda Ballentine finished strongly together in 64th and 65th from another 100 plus field.
Sam Gentry, still feeling the effects of a Flu virus, didn’t want to waste the maximum points he gained from his 1st place at Bridgend so he raced and finished this one as high up as he could have expected with a hard fought 8th place. Alex Collins and Ollie Lock finished 17th and 19th respectively with Jamie Carroll 37th and Will Cheek in 64th completing the U13 boys team.
The U13 girls 11 strong team were led superbly by Rosie Whitehead who outsprinted three girls over the last 150 metres for her best finish to date to take 2nd place. Lucy Maine with her shoulder heavily strapped ran doggedly to finish 23rd and Nelly Bridger-Morales showed great promise with an excellent 35th place in only her 2nd cross country race. Maisie Squire was next in finishing very comfortably in 46th with Ellie Atwell and Issy Gall having a battle to the line for 63rd and 64th respectively. Kerrin Smith showed huge improvement on her first race to finish 77th and will look to carry this into the next race. Ruby and Maddie Soper, Lauren Smith and debutant Ellie Maule all ran very well for the team in another 100 plus field.
The U15 boys lost lead runner Matt Hogg to injury, but a fine run by Callum Smith yielded an excellent 21st place for him to finish in front of Jaylan Bacon who in 27th narrowly held onto his place after seeing team mate Euan Campbell pass him with 100 metres to go. In a fantastic race to the line Bacon just managed to get his nose in front of Campbell at the death. Luca Murray will be pleased with his first race of the season to finish 37th place in front of another debutant Jack Major in 55th and Henry Cox in 59th who appeared to be struggling with a knee injury.
The U15 girls always pack well together as a team and this race was no exception. Alice Davies continued her recent fine form with another outstanding run in which she and her opponent from Wells led from the off. Davies was just out done in the final 200 metres, but will be happy with a fine 2nd place. Lauren Ashurst continues to improve finishing just one place outside the top 10, with Olivia Burton continuing her return to form in 16th after a long injury lay off. Harriet Emery in 20th, Sara Flower on 24th and Lizzie Plews in 26th completed the team scoring, which should be enough to retain their 2nd place overall.
The U17 boys maintained their consistency and once again should have done enough to maintain their 3rd place overall. In a combined race with the U20’s Joe Gentry finished a fine 15th place with a typically strong run and was followed in by David Warnes in 29th who was just two places in front of Michael Proffitt. The U17 girls sole runner Cecilie Andersen in her first race of the season can be very pleased with her 11th place in another combined race with the U20 girls.
Senior man James Rodgers made a last minute decision to run this one following his Weston Half Marathon victory just the previous weekend. In a high quality race of just under 400 runners he showed no sign of heavy legs as he worked his way well through the field and even found a terrific sprint finish at the end to take a superb 6th place. This follows his 10th place in the first fixture and moves him up to 5th overall.