West Midlands Young Athletes Cross Country League, Abington Park, 13th January 2018

Fresh from their medal winning success at the County Championships, the junior athletes of Tamworth AC travelled to Abington Park in Northampton for the fourth and penultimate fixture of the West Midlands Young Athletes Cross Country League on Sunday. The course presented competitors with a fast, downhill start followed by some tough drawn out climbs that caught a few by surprise. A strong wind was the only blemish on otherwise perfect weather conditions.

Showing no signs of fatigue after their Warwickshire Championship efforts the previous weekend, Charlotte and Sophie Perry maintained their consistent good form in the Under-17 Women’s race. Charlotte took 20th place, completing the 4km course in 20:15 and Sophie then crossed the line in 35th with a time of 21:56.

The Under-11 Boys were next and a typically large turnout brought a distinct green and white colouring to the starting line of the 1.6km event. Jesse Bradley again showed his promise with an 8th placed finish and a time of 7:36. Thomas Beales came in next, taking a pleasing 20th place and a time of 7:53. He was followed by Dominic Harper in 38th with 8:16 and Adam Stokes in 52nd with 8:26. Jack Dolan was Tamworth’s all important fifth scorer in 57th place with a time 8:32, but there wasn’t much between him and Noah Ballinger who followed closely in 58th with 8:35. Corin Bradley made his first appearance of the season and did well to cross the line in 9:01. Dawson Ballinger was next with 9:26, followed by a strong finish from William Newman with 10:03 and Tommy Deeming with 10:13. Samuel Williams was only a second behind Tommy rounding off another excellent display for the boys with a time of 10:14. The results keep the Under-11 Boys in an impressive 6th place in the overall league standings, leaving a decent gap between them and Coventry Godiva in 7th.

Under 11 Boys Team

The Under-11 Girls followed their male teammates, taking on the same 1.6km course. Jessica Salt put in a phenomenal season best performance, storming through the finish line in 6th place with a time of 8:05. Sofia Farmer put in another solid run to come home with a time of 9:47. She was followed by Robyn Lee with 10:56 and Charlotte Evans with 11:12. The Girls stay in 7th place, ahead of Birchfield Harriers in 8th and Tipton Harriers in 9th.

James Stretton and Ben Edwards did battle again in the 3.2km Under-15 Boys race. James took the honours this time, finishing in 28th place with a time of 13:44. As ever, the gap was small, and Ben came thundering home in 33rd place with 13:51.

The eagerly awaited Under-13 events saw two Staffordshire County bronze medal winning teams in action for both the Tamworth Boys and Girls. The Girls got underway first, with Lottie McLaren again first back, completing the 2.4km course in 13th place with a time of 11:49. Phoebe O’Connor took 25th place with 12:13 and Kirsten McLaren followed close behind in 33rd place with 12:21. Natasha Lee was next with 12:50, followed by Annie Boonham returning to action with a time of 13:00. Daisy Smith completed the line-up with a time of 13:10. A great result earned the team an incredible 4th place on the day, pushing them up to 8th in the overall standings, and hot on the heels of Halesowen A&CC in 7th.

The Under-13 Boys looked determined to follow suit as they followed the girls around the same 2.4km course. Luca Bradley finished with another fine performance in 9th place and a time of 10:52, only just edging out Toby Wooton on the line who took 10th place with 10:53. Oliver Goldsworthy was next to finish for Tamworth in 56th with 12:32 followed by Joseph Gorst in 63rd with 12:44. Ben Lamplugh completed the scoring five with a time of 13:15, with Jacob Wiliams and Ben Godber coming in with 13:31 and 14:34 respectively. The Under-13 Boys currently occupy 7th place in the overall league standings and with just one fixture remaining, another strong performance could push them even higher.

Toby Wooton (L) Luca Bradley (R)

The Under-15 Girls finished off the day with the familiar Tamworth trio of Tegan Vickery, Libbie Price and Ellie Gauntlett in the 3.2km race. Tegan Vickery led the Tamworth line with a 43rd place finish and a time of 16:27. Libbie Price was next in 50th place with 17:10 followed by Ellie Gauntlett in 53rd with 17:23.

Under 15 Girls Team

The combined results across all the age groups, put Tamworth AC in a fine 7th place on the day; meaning the team remain in 10th place in the overall league standings but make up ground on the teams above them.

Team Manager Ben Evans was quick to acknowledge the efforts of all involved and said “Today was the furthest we’ve had to travel for a league fixture this season, so it’s great to see so many of our athletes making the trip. As a father myself, I appreciate all too well the commitment that families make to get these guys to competitions and they’re as much a part of the team and our success as anyone.”

“I’m really pleased to see new faces coming in amongst the regulars and yet again they’ve all done themselves proud. Jessica Salt was the talk of the team and she impressed everyone today. I can see that she’s enjoying herself out there and growing in confidence with each race. I think Toby Wooton also deserves a lot of credit today. He’s had Luca in his sight all season, but today he really made his presence known and I hope he can build on these excellent results.”

The final league fixture of the season will be at Wolverhampton on Sunday 10th February in what promises to be an exciting finale for Tamworth. In the meantime, the young athletes will be competing at the Midland Counties Cross Country Championships at Newbold Comyn on Saturday 26th January.

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