It was a bumper weekend for athletes from Wolves & Bilston AC as the cross country league season came to a conclusion for both old and young.
The men and women were both at the same venue for their concluding race, travelling to Newbold Comyn in Leamington Spa for the final throes of what has been a long season. The race was almost literally gate crashed by Storm Eunice, an uninvited guest that runners and the travelling band of spectators had to contend with, making difficult conditions even more inhospitable and the going on the ridiculous side of soft, heavy in places. It was a long afternoon for some, starting at 10.00 in the morning as a coach left Fordhouses Cricket Club with a group of eager athletes, the eagerness dissipating somewhat as they travelled down the motorway in a downpour. Even walking from the car park to take shelter in a small brick building surrounded by fields felt like trying to navigate a ship across the Bay of Biscay in a force 9.
The ladies were off first covering two laps of an undulating course, underfoot conditions were filthy and wet, the mud slick and slippery, the course one that not only drained you physically but also mentally sucking the will from increasingly tired legs. Despite this, the ladies performed with great credit, Amelia Samuels took 3rd place in 23.46 after a slower start to claim the 1st individual senior prize for the season, Louise Hackett was 4th in 23.49 bagging the 1st individual junior prize, a double that we believe is unprecedented in the history of the club. Lucy Calrow was 35th in 26.44, Beth Dyall 55th in 28.04, Abi Wells-Day 65th in 29.04, Becky Palmer 74thy in 29.37, Emily Simmonds 100th in 31.09 and Emilie Bullock 105th in 31.21. Hannah Corns took the brave decision to drop out and Jo Hackett although at the venue didn’t make the start line after a head injury prior to the race put paid to her chances of competing.
It has been a fantastic season for the ladies who have been ably managed by Jackie Halford, their performance on the day proving enough to place then 4th in the league, right amongst the big guns, and they finished in an excellent 7th place overall for the season.
The men took on the same course an hour later and over a further lap with 3 being the magic number for them. Dan Maskew put his descending skills to good use skipping down the treacherous slippery downhill section with abandon while others almost walked down like scared old men, mainly because most of us were. Dan was first back for the club crossing the line in 24th in 37.40, Louie Lambeth chased him home in 25th in 37.45, a superb end to his first season in the senior ranks, Jonny Harris was 49th in 38.53, Dan Turner 76th in 40.05, Jack Bonser unsuited by the heavy conditions was 77th in the same time, Dave Smith was 104th in 41.43, Gareth Briggs 113th in 41.57, Dan Vaughan was 143rd in 43.47, Rich Amor-Wilkes 147th in 44.06, Greg Asbury 155th in 44.51, Roger Grand 160th in 45.42, Dave Norman 175th in 47.50, Andy Dyall 178th in 48.15, Darren Edwards 188th in 49.30, Garry Palmer 50.48, Rob Edwards 199th in 51.07, Simon Calrow claimed some notable scalps, mainly those of people who weren’t there, finishing in 202nd place in his first and last race of the cross country season, Paul Clarke was 203rd in 52.50 and Lee Partridge was 211th in 56.02. This was enough to see the club finish in 9th position on the day and 11th overall to secure their Division One status for another year.
Twenty four hours later it was the turn of the younger brigade to pull on the vest in their final event of the season as they travelled to Nuneaton in the hope of putting the finishing touches to what has been a very successful campaign. Sara Jones was first back for the club in the U17 women’s race on a time of 17.36 to take 14th place being the only representative in that age group. Similarly, James Neilson was the only athlete in the U17 men’s race coming 14th in 18.48. Seb Palmer carried on where his parents left off the day before claiming 1st place in the U11 boys in 7.25, Theo Ulfig was 21st in 8.09, Thomas Buggins was 51st in 8.58, Frankie Mason 83rd in 9.53, Caleb Pitt 89th in 10.31 and Lewis Neilson 92nd in 11.11. This placed the club in 5th position in the age group. Gracie Billett was first back for the club in the U11 girls race in 22nd place in 8.39, Hattie Thomas was 32nd in 8.57, Clara Butler Montero 45th in 9.20, Erin-Mia Nash 48th in 9.25, Amiyah Pal 57th in 9.34 and Alice Cattell 62nd in 9.42, enough for a 4th place finish.
Owen Ulfig claimed victory in the U15 boys race crossing the line in 11.54, Theo Palmer was 26th in 13.23, Matthew Bassford was 41st in 13.58, Jared Richards 50th in 14.34, Kane Carrington 58th in 15.09 and Sebastian Edwards 59th in 15.23, with the club placing 6th. Isobelle Jones was 3rd in the U15 girls race crossing the line in 13.37, Ava Kind was 6th in 14.10, Madison Farley 7th in 14.14, Megan White 14th in 14.55, Zena Asbury 17th in 15.01, Ruby Buggins 21st in 15.09, Jessica Yang 29th in 15.38, Scarlett Willoughby 29th in 15.38 and Bethany Bennett placed 55th in 17.09. Good enough for a 1st place finish.
In the U13 girls race there was a 4th place finish for Ronni Read in 10.22, Daisy Frost was 7th in 10.34, Grace Hendy 8th in 10.37, Tabitha Rollins 33rd in 11.45, Lucy Horton 38th in 11.56, Macy Read 49th in 12.21 and Belle Willoughby 59th in 13.43, with the club topping the pile in first place on the day. The U13 boys continued to dominate their age group with Fred Jones bagging another win in 8.36, Oscar Davis was 3rd in 9.03, Bohdi Finn Shield was 4th in 9.09, Sam Thusfield 7th in 9.28, Sam Ball 8th in 9.31, Jack Stockton 13th in 9.54, Will Hughes 15th in 10.04, Jayden Burdish 19th in 10.14, Leon Asbury 21st in 10.34, Aryan Pal 44th in 11.38 and Seth Carrington coming 54th in 12.22. With so many towards the sharp end of the race the club finished 1st in the age group.
This was enough for the club to finish 2nd overall on the day behind Rugby & Northampton AC but ahead of the local powerhouses of Birchfield Harriers, RSCAC, Stratford upon Avon AC, BRAT and Tipton Harriers. Overall, for the season the club placed 3rd with Rugby out in front and RSCAC just piping them for the runners up spot. In the age groups Wolves were 13th in the U17 women’s series with Isabelle Price claiming the individual series win. The U17 men were 9th with James Neilson highest placed in 8th, the lack of numbers in the age group proving to be a telling factor.
There was a win the U15 girl’s series with Isobelle Jones taking 1st place The U15 boys were 6th, the highest place being held by Theo Palmer in 12th.
The U13 boys finished in 1st place in the age group with Fred Jones claiming a series victory, Oscar Davis taking 3rd and Sam Thursfield in 4th. The U13 girls were 2nd in the series with Grace Hendy in 5th and Ronni Read not far behind in 6th.
The club were 4th in the U11 boys, the highest placed being Seb Palmer with a 2nd place. The U11 girls were 6th, the best of the bunch being Hattie Thomas in 22nd place.
Finally, away from the mud and on the tarmac the club had a trio of runners taking part in the Rugeley 10 two years after the original event was due to take place. Ben Pilsbury was 26th in 1.07.23, Adam Cotterill was 76th 1.17.45 and Craig Buggins 133rd in 1.28.08. The club’s marathon duo left the storms behind to take part in the Seville Marathon with Dave Joynson coming home 3.10.28 to complete his 178th marathon in 1664th place with Gill Mitchell not too far behind in her 175th race over the distance in a finishing time of 5.21.27 in 7451st place.
And although Harry Dyall was due to compete over 3k in the BUCS indoor meeting for Cardiff Met at the weekend it appears the universities have had an extension on submitting their work as there are still no results available as yet.
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