U13 B Hants Champs 2022

Thu 13th Jan 2022

WADAC claim five sets of team golds from eight categories

Although the joy of being able to compete in the Hampshire XC Championships again was partially offset by a miserable morning's weather, Winchester's juniors could hardly have had a better day than the one they enjoyed in the wind and rain at Fairthorne Manor on Saturday.

The course, once again superbly designed by Jon Osman and his Eastleigh team, was muddy from the off and of course became muddier as the day progressed.

Based on pointers from recent Hampshire League fixtures, the opening U11B race seemed likely to be contested by WADAC and Portsmouth teams, and so it proved. Luke Furby, although having to settle for individual silver on this occasion, led WADAC to team gold medals, ably supported by Eddie Clegg, with a great 4th place from lower year, Felix Sclater (6th) and Samuel Richardson (10th). While Portsmouth did indeed finish as second team, there was further success for WADAC as our second quartet claimed the bronze medals, with Tom Pate (12th), Daniel Instone (14th), Ben Phillips (15th) and Jack Sansome (17th). There was even a fourth team place finish for WADAC’s third quartet of Tom Price, Edward Duxbury, Leo Davies-Pratt and Timo Thomas Machleidt, and good performances too from Joe Jepson, Felix Hoskins, Oliver Furby, Christopher Wood and Harry Moreton.

The U11G race was a relatively small field, of 23 runners, and again WADAC’s team had too much strength in depth for the opposition, taking a comfortable set of team gold medals. Ava Cassia produced a well-judged race to claim the individual silver medal, and was joined in the winning ensemble by Amber Price (7th), Francesca Bertacchini (8th from lower year) and the reliable Pippa Russell (12th). Just behind them with great runs were Evie Smith, Cecily Nolan and Clarice Thorne-Henderson.

In an overall squad of several potential winning teams, perhaps Winchester’s hottest favourites were the U13 boys, despite having strong opposition as usual from Southampton. Those in black and gold didn’t disappoint, most notably Casper Wilson, who judged his race to absolute perfection to storm home as county champion. Team-mates Ethan Skipwith (5th), Seth Noott (10th) and Ollie Corrie (11th) all produced their usual solid runs, to ensure the team golds were won. Oliver Foden (16th), Iosu Harfield (18th), Benno Thomas Machleidt (26th) and James Batho (29th) were good enough to add a team fifth place to the day’s achievements, with Jeremiah Adams also making a welcome return after a long lay-off.

There was success again for Winchester in the U13G race, though tempered by some regret as to what might have been. The impressive Kate Atkinson continues to go from strength to strength, finishing with the individual silver medal after another fabulous run. But team-mate Poppy Taylor was forced to withdraw mid-race, leaving the ever-reliable Grace Baker (7th), Ellie Jepson(17th from lower year) and Alexandra Dickinson (22nd) to complete the team. Their score gave them bronze medals, but only one point from silver and not so far from the winning team score. Elodie Gill (24th) completed the WADAC results with her usual gutsy display.

Winchester’s super-strong U15 boys’ squad has been decimated in recent times by injury and absence, but despite missing a host of top performers, remarkably claimed team gold medals by a single point. Will Atkins once again impressed with a storming finish to grab the individual bronze medal in his latest top showing, and there was a wonderful run too from lower year Ruben Price (6th). Former U11 and U13 champion James Lewis held on for 9th, and with Aiden Furby working his way up the field to 15th, every point counted towards those golds. Once again Winchester’s strength in depth was evident with Ieuan Thomas (16th), Finnian Exworthy (18th), Sam Wilkinson (21st), William Dickinson, Adam Perry and Billy Jones all finishing well.

The current U15G cohort hasn’t until now been WADAC’s strongest, but there are encouraging signs of a team coming together. The arrival of Darcy Hawkins has been the catalyst, and she again toughed it out for individual bronze on Saturday, in a typically robust display. With two other relative newcomers, Eva Johnson (8th) and Rosie Sharrock (13th) scoring well so early in their time at WADAC, and Cecily Wilson (17th) once more working her way up to a good finishing place, the longer-term is looking good. The short-term wasn’t bad either, because this team display not only won silver medals, it was a mere five points from gold. Perhaps just as encouraging was a WADAC turnout of ten, and great runs from Rebecca Hutchings, Scarlett Anderson, Amelie Gill, Isla McAulay, Katie Pugh and the returning Safiya Husain, who all finished in a pack in mid-field. Watch this space.

The day’s biggest disappointment was the withdrawal, through an impressive array of injuries and illnesses, of almost all the WADAC U17G team, who had otherwise looked nailed on for team golds. As it was, Jasmine Jones was left all alone to represent the black and gold, but at least provided some consolation with arguably her best race for a few seasons in finishing 15th from lower year. The other good news came from Lily Neate, getting a little bit senior now to be included in a junior event report, but old habits die hard. Lily decimated the U20W field to win gold with more than a minute to spare and thus retain her status (2020 U17G winner) as Hampshire Champion.

The final Winchester junior (?) action of the day was also a huge positive for the club, with the U17M race providing another set of gold medals in a category that’s more competitive this season than for several years. Harry Wilson continued his rise and rise with a fabulous individual silver from lower year, followed by Ben Chesterfield, also lower year, 5th, and Harry Harvey, 10th, to edge home in the team score by a couple of points. With team stalwart Ben Schofield (22nd), Leo Smith (26th), Ollie Withers (29th) and Michael Shingleton-Smith (30th), seven runners at U17 level was by some distance WADAC’s best turnout in this age-group for many a year.

Well Done to everyone who turned out to run and support on a miserable day of weather, but a very bright one nevertheless for WADAC. Attention now turns to the battle for more team medals in the league programme, with the next event at Reading this Saturday.