Mon 25th Feb 2019
James Lewis & Rose Chesterfield also both finish in the top fifteen places despite being in the lower half of their age groups
Sixteen of WADAC's fastest junior athletes made the long trip north to Harewood House, near Leeds, for this year's Saucony English National Cross Country Championships. They were greeted by an unseasonably warm day, touching 16 degrees at one point, and a very hilly parkland grass course, not to mention the best athletes and clubs from all over England as competition.
Having made their re-appearance at the Nationals after an absence of several years, in 2018, the target for WADAC's juniors was to build on those results this time round.
First up were the Under-15 boys, who had finished as 35th team last year. Fine individual runs from Doug Scally (47th) and Sam Roberts (49th) both making the top 50, backed up by James Medley and Harry Harvey, saw Winchester's scoring team just miss out on the top ten, finishing 11th, a huge uplift from the previous year. There were good runs too from Connor Dutton and Ben Schofield, both from the lower half of the age group.
The next race with Winchester involvement was the Under-13 boys, who had finished as 14th team in 2018. James Lewis led the way for WADAC, racing near the front from the starting-gun onwards, and finishing an incredible 13th place in a field of over 400 runners. Well supported by the in-form Ben Chesterfield (53rd) and Michael Shingleton-Smith (79th), and with Stan Parkinson in 101st spot, the boys were perhaps a little unlucky to finish 'only' as 8th team, with a points score that would have placed them in the top five in most previous years. There were very good national-competition debuts from Will Hasan (two years below top age) and Reuben Hobbs (lower-half age group), both showing great staying power to finish comfortably in the top half as others faded in the heat. So with four of this year's six runners available again as Under-13s next year, hopes will be high for a challenge to the medal places in 2020.
WADAC's last interest of the day in the junior races was in the Under-15 girls, where holidays and other commitments had left us with just the minimum four runners, and only then because Millie Burgess was rushed up the M1 overnight straight from the airport to make the team complete. Two fabulous runs from Rose Chesterfield, 14th, and Amelia Moore, 24th, laid the foundations for Hannah Foster (83rd) and Millie with a superb 123rd despite her travel arrangements, and the girls too had claimed 8th team place. Here again, with three of the four girls still in Under-15s next year, further improvement should be on the cards.
So three very good team performances in our three races, further progress, and great prospects for 2020, another good day for WADAC, which was followed later by some excellent showings by the club's seniors.
Special mentions must go to the many parents who completed 500-mile round-trips either on the day or overnight. At least it was lovely weather for spectating folks.