It was a case of another weekend and another muddy field for the Wolves & Bilston contingent over the week with both men’s and women’s cross country leagues taking place on Saturday and another round of the young athletes league on Sunday making for a hectic 24 hours for the club.
First off were the ladies who travelled south to Burton Dassett Hills Country Park, and of those 5 words giving the venue its title the emphasis was firmly on the third one – hills. The photos suggest it was like Tellytubby Land but there was no child’s play with this course and the up and down nature made things particularly hard. Team manager, Jackie Halford, stated that this was the toughest of all four fixtures and more like a fell race than cross country. And with Amelia Samuels recovering from covid and Louise Hackett having a week off between England vests they were missing two of their top performers. Lucy Calrow was first home for the club on her seasonal debut finishing in 40th place in 29.10, looking strong and composed despite a tumble, closely followed by Beth Tabor who was making her return to cross country racing following a cracked rib, Beth crossed the line in 49th place in 29.41, Ruby Richards was next over the line in 64th in 30.51, with Beth Dyall making her senior debut for the club coming home as fourth counter in 69th in 31.17 to complete the A team. Abi Wells-Day finished in 82nd in 32.21, Emily Simmonds was 115th in 34.34 and Hannah Corns clocked 35.58 in 137th to complete the team.
The men faced the relatively simple journey to Warley Woods, and for once the journey time was actually shorter than the time spent racing after trips to Crewe and Northampton for their first two fixtures. With three big holes punched in their A team with Jamie Ward, Dan Turner and Harry Dyall missing due to a combination of injury, Covid and university commitments there were concerns that the club would leave the venue in the relegation places. But a combination of some solid performances and the universities using this as their BUCS qualifying race meant the damage to other clubs was probably more significant as the university students pushed a lot of the mid pack runners back significantly. Jack Bonser continued his excellent season finishing in 47th in 31.33, Louie Lambeth claimed some notable scalps in 57th in 31.47, Dan Maskew finally made it to a league race after his early season had been curtailed by an ankle injury coming home in 80th in 32.49, Jonny Harris was 91st in 33.09, Gareth Briggs 161st in 35.34 and Dave Smith 168th in 35.52. Rich Amor-Wilkes was 172nd in 36.03, Dan Vaughan 205th in 37.45, Greg Asbury 225th in 38.43, Shaun Bennett 230th in 39.14, Dave Newport 233rd in 39.24 and Dave Norman 238th in 39.51. Jay Patel made his cross country debut and had a battle royal with Pete Hood, Jay just coming out on top, finishing in 262nd in 42.51 and 263rd in 42.52 respectively. Lee Partridge maintained his streak of running every league race in 276th place in 45.08 and Nick Beach finished in 46.15 in 282nd place for his club cross country debut. Despite concerns the club placed 13th of 16 on the day and now sit in 11th place in the league with a nice cushion between then and the 3rd bottom club Leamington, however Leamington do have a home game next so we can’t afford to be complacent.
Twenty four hours later it was the turn of the younger club members to pull on the vest in their WMYACCL fixture at Walsall Arboretum where the club continued to chase the top two, Rugby & Northampton AC and RSCAC finishing in 3rd place on the day. Isabelle Price took the win in the U17 women’s race in 15.27, Beth Rawlinson was 5th in 16.04 with Sara Jones 13th in 17.22, enough to finish top of the age group. Seb Palmer was 2nd in the U11 boys race in 5.52, Jonathan Yang was 11th in 6.14, Thomas Buggins 61st in 7.24, Frankie Mason 82nd in 7.56, Caleb Pitt 84th in 7.56 and Lewis Neilson 92nd in 8.26, to place the club 4th. James Neilson was 4th in 16.34 and Dylan Illidge 22nd in 18.07 in the U17 men’s race fielding an incomplete team. Gracie Billett was first home for the club in the U11 girl’s in 7.09, Clara Butler-Montero was 31st in 7.15, Hattie Thomas 34th in 7.20 and Amiyah Pal 71st in 8.02 with the club in 7th. Owen Ulfig bagged a runners up spot in the U15 boy’s event in 11.05, Theo Palmer was 24th in 12.02, Jared Richards 42nd in 12.38, Sebastian Edwards 71st in 14.06 and Kane Carrington 75th in 14.34, with the club placing 8th. Grace Hendy was first back for the club in 3rd in the U13 girl’s race in 9.59, Daisy Frost was 6th in 10.16, Ronni Read 13th in 10.39, Eleanor Simpson 21st in 10.55, Lucy Horton 29th in 11.08, Tabitha Rollins 35th in 11.28, Macy Read 66th in 12.41, Ruby Jackson 71st in 12.57, Belle Willoughby 73rd in 13.03, with the club topping the pile in the age group. Fred Jones led home the U13’s in 8.40 with Oscar Davis chasing him in 2nd place in 9.00, Sam Thursfield was 4th in 9.05, Sam Ball 6th in 9.23, Jack Stockton 10th in 9.38, William Bassford 15th in 9.51, Leon Asbury 27th in 10.26, Aryan Pal 54th in 11.35 and Seth Carrington 73rd in 13.08. With the club again placing 1st in the age group. Isobelle Jones also crossed the line unopposed taking the win in 11.56 in the U15 girl’s race, Madison Farley was 6th in 12.47, Zena Asbury was 9th in 12.55, Ruby Buggins 13th in 13.10, Scarlett Willoughby 17th in 13.28, Jessica Yang 21st in 13.33, Harriet Evans 63rd in 15.30, with the club winning the age group.
With 4 matches completed and one remaining the club are in 3rd place overall with Stratford AC on their heels, it’s a shame we can’t find another U17 boy to complement the two we do have to ensure we are not giving away too many points and make that 3rd place a certainty and possible push on for better thing.