Weekly update – 16th February 2024

It was one extreme to another at the weekend. With very little action last week you couldn’t move for athletes from Wolverhampton & Bilston this week with the culmination of the cross-country league season for the men at Northampton, the ladies at Burton Dassett and the younger group having a home fixture at Aldersley on Sunday.

So, lets start with the ladies who had to contend with a difficult course, described in a cleaned version of the sentence without the expletives “as more like a fell race”. Ella Semple was first back for the club in an impressive 11th place in 29.36, Lucie Tait-Harris made her club debut coming home in 19th place, and 4th in the Masters category in 30.34, Lucy Semple was 61st in 33.29, Sabrina Thomas was 78th in 34.45, Beth Tabor came 85th in 35.45, clearly struggling after missing a week with a chest infection, and Emily Simmonds bought the team home in 36.11. This was sufficient to place the club in 9th place in the league, exactly halfway out of 18 clubs in the division. A great effort considering that we were only able to field 4 athletes at the first fixture in Cheltenham and with a full squad next season should see the club climb up the division.

The men were underway half an hour later and some miles further afield. Going into the final fixture they were placed 4th from the bottom of division one of the Birmingham League, and although they had a tidy cushion of around 250 points on the 3rd bottom club, the 3rd bottom club was Rugby & Northampton AC and the fixture was at Northampton, so this was always going to be a struggle. Particularly as the home team were confident enough to be playing the theme from “The Great Escape” over speakers during the race. With the home club getting their first 6 counters over the line in 5th, 8th, 41st, 44th, 45th and 46th positions this was far too much to deal with and although W&B were 12th on the day out of 16 they fell into the relegation places and are consigned to Division 2 for at least a season. Luke Maskew had a great run to finish in 63rd place in 33.52, Louie Lambeth was 67th in 34.08 despite dropping out in the week with injury, he started the race not knowing whether he would finish and ran his heart out for the club, James Neilson was able to make his senior debut in a season blighted by injury to place 70th in 34.15, Ben Foster was 86th in 35.04, Joe St Quinton was 12th in 36.16 and Dylan Illidge completed the A team scorers in 115th in 36.19. Garry Palmer was 134th in 37.59, Jon Hart debuted with 38.59 in 141st place after knee sliding on the first lap, Dan Vaughan was 147th in 39.16, chased by Derrick Milligan in 149th in 39.25, Danny Malone made a cross country comeback, something he’d promised himself he wouldn’t do, to finish in 157th in 40.27, Dave Norman was 168th in 41.50, Andy Dyall was 179th in 44.51, Mark Illidge 183rd in 45.37, Rob Edwards 187th in 46.12, Lee Partridge 188th in 46.33, Duncan Davies 196th in 50.42, John Abbis 197th in 50.46 and Russ Blair was an ever present for the season competing in all four races coming home in 199th place in 53.04.

Twenty-four hours later it was the turn of the younger brigade to bring their season to a close in the West Midland Young Athletes Cross Country League.

Isobelle Jones claimed a win in the U17 ladies race in 16.29, chased home by Megan White who finished 2nd in 17.33, Scarlett Willoughby was 8th in 18.34, Millie Williams 21st in 20.24 and Ruby Buggins placed 28th in 21.24. Good enough to take 1st place in the age group. George Nicholls was first home for the club in the U11 boys race in 6th place in 6.32, Edison Bowden was 33rd in 7.09, Evan Nash was 40th in 7.17, Frankie Mason placed 67th in 7.55, and George Hines was 76th in 9.12, the boys placing 6th. Kane Carrington was the only representative in the U17 men’s race placing 41st in 23.54.

There was a 1 – 2 in the U11 girls event with Lila Pearce in 6.20 leading home Alba Jones in 6.29, Biba Guest was 6th in 7.02, Chloe Cashmore-Jones was 19th in 7.23, Isla Gaunt 88th in 8.41, placing the girls 2nd in the age group. There was a 2nd place finish for Fred Jones in the U15 boys race in 11.53, Jack Stockton was 8th in 12.32, Bohdi Shields was 10th in 12.38, Will Hughes placed 21st in 13.31 just holding of Sam Southall who was a place and a second behind. Jayden Burdish was 33rd in 13.55, Aryan Kumar Pal 40th in 14.20, and Joshua Hill 49th in 15.11. Placing the boys 2nd.

There was a 3rd place finish for Kiki Guest in the U13 girls race crossing the line in 10.06, Erin Mia-Nash was 29th in 11.08, Maya Jelic Ramesh 34th in 11.16, Alice Cattell 35th in 11.19, Gracie Billett 45th in 11.40, Kaleah Moulder 47th in 11.42, Amira Moulder 51st in 11.46, Amiyah Kumar Pal 66th in 12.31, Clara Butler Montero 71st in 12.42, Katy Camilleri 86th in 13.55, placing the club 5th.

Rocco Hawley was 2nd in the U13 boys competition finishing in 9.01, Theo Ulfig was 9th in 9.37, Harry Monkton 27th in 10.22, and James Pugh 55th in 13.02. Good enough for 6th in the age group. Grace Hendy was 4th in the U15 girls race in 13.47, Maisie Roberts placed 21st in 15.41, Eleanor Simpson was 33rd in 16.44, Macy Read 42nd in 17.54, and Kiran Mann crossed the line in 18.21 to take 47th place, placing the club 3rd in the age group.

The overall team results for all ages placed the club 2nd, just under 400 points behind Rugby & Northampton, with Stratford upon Avon AC finishing in 3rd place. Series points medallists for the club were Isobelle Jones in 1st place and Megan White taking 2nd in the U17 ladies, Seb Palmer was 1st in the U11 boys, Lila Pearce was 1st and Alba Jones 2nd in the U11 girls. Rocco Hawley took 2nd in the U13 boys.

Sam Thursfield and Jack Stockton just missed out in the U15 boys in 4th and 5th respectively, as did Kiki Guest who was 4th in the U13 girls.

Finally, after all the outdoor action let’s go inside for the England Athletics U20, U17 & U15 Indoor Championships in Sheffield where Joshua Welford ran 22.77 in the U17 200m to win his heat and qualify for the semi-final, where we bettered this time to win in 22.27 and then clocked a new PB of 21.98 in the final crossing the line is 1st place to claim the title. A fantastic achievement for Josh and his coach Dave Perkins.

Dave Norman

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