The youth of Tamworth AC gathered for one last time this season in the West Midlands Young Athletes Cross Country League at Aldersley Leisure Village in Wolverhampton. The team started the day in 10th place overall with sights set on the clubs immediately ahead, thanks to a steady improvement in confidence and form over the season. Everything was set for a dramatic finale with the league table finely poised and the leaders battling it out for the title.
Overnight rain continued into the morning but cleared before the racing got underway, leaving a wet and muddy course in otherwise great running conditions. Injuries and illness once again forced some key absences from the Tamworth team, but the turnout showed a depth of promising athletes that has been growing at the club.
The Under-17 Women got the fixture underway as usual with Charlotte and Sophie Perry both putting in another solid performance. Charlotte finished the 4km course in 15th place with a time of 16:32. Sister Sophie followed in 35th place with 17:54 to round off a great season that sees the pair take an incredible 9th place in the final Under-17 Women’s team table. In the final individual standings, Charlotte claimed 24th place overall with Sophie in 35th.
On to the 1.6km Under-11 Boys race, and Jesse Bradley made another top 10 finish with a time of 5:24 in 7th place. The result sealed an overall 5th place in the final individual standings for Jesse, a fitting reward for some fantastic running. Dominic Harper was next for Tamworth in 37th with a time of 5:53, followed by Jack Dolan in 46th with 5:58 and Adam Stokes in 54th with 6:03. Corin Bradley was very close behind and completed the scoring five in 57th with 6:04. Thomas Ladkin crossed the line in 6:57 and William Newman rounded things off with 7:55. The boys have grown in confidence over the season and crept up the table with each race to finish with an outstanding 5th place in the final standings.
In the 4.8km Under-17 Men’s race, Max Kent continued his solo efforts for Tamworth in his last season before graduating to the senior setup. Max finished in 21st place with a fine time of 17:16, putting him in 25th place in the final individual standings.
For the Under-11 Girls, Jessica Salt put in another breath-taking performance, finishing the 1.6km race in 7th place with a time of 5:51, and taking 7th place in the final individual standings. Charlotte Evans finished with a time of 8:00, wrapping up a pleasing 9th place in the final Under-11 Girls team table.
Ben Edwards ran alone in the Under-15 Boys 3.2km race, taking 19th place with a time of 11:07. This gives Ben 24th place in the individual placings, just one place behind teammate James Stretton, who was missing through illness on the final day.
With Lottie McLaren and Kirsten McLaren both missing, Phoebe O’Connor valiantly led The Under-13 Girls team around the 2.5km course, taking 27th place with a time of 9:39. Annie Boonham was next to finish in 49th with 10:03, followed closely by the Natasha Lee, maintaining her 100% appearance record for the season, in 54th place with 10:09. Daisy Smith finished the race in 64th place with a time of 10:26 with Chloe Sharman, making a very welcome return to the team, hot on her heels in 66th with 10:28. A sterling effort from the depleted Girls team kept them in 8th place in the final table.
The 2.5km course was noticeably churning up in places by the time the Under-13 Boys took to the start line. Luca Bradley again followed his younger brother’s lead, storming to 6th place with a time of 8:26 and securing 6th place in the final individual table. Toby Wooton missed the final race through injury, but still made 9th place in the overall standings. Aedan Mason took 25th place with an impressive time of 9:06, followed by Oliver Goldsworthy, completing five from five in the league this season, in 33rd place with a time of 9:23. Joseph Gorst and Ben Godber, both also making 100% appearances this season, finished with times of 10:02 and 10:13 respectively. The Under-13 Boys finished in 6th place on the day, ending the season in the superb 7th place that they have consistently occupied since the second meeting back in November.
The day and season ended with the Under-15 Girls and the Tamworth trio of Tegan Vickery, Libbie Price and Ellie Gauntlett lining up for the 3.2km race. Tegan Vickery was first back with a solid and composed run to finish in 43rd place with a time of 13:14. Libbie Price was next in 48th with 13:38, followed by Ellie Gauntlett in 59th with 14:21.
The hard-earned results across the age categories, propelled Tamworth AC into a magnificent 9th place in the final overall league table; going one better than the previous season. At the top of the table, Wolverhampton & Bilston celebrated their coronation as champions in front of their home support, narrowly beating Rugby & Northampton AC into second place.
Team manager, Ben Evans speaking at the end of his first season in charge said “If I’m honest I was really worried that today was going to be a bit of an anti-climax after what felt like an endless stream of injuries and illness hitting the team during the week. That wouldn’t have been right for these young athletes. They deserved the success and have all worked extremely hard for it. I couldn’t be more proud of them!”
“I’ve learnt a lot in my first season as team manager and it’s been so personally rewarding. I owe a huge deal of thanks to the coaches Lisa Stretton and Colin Pleass for their invaluable support and advice throughout the season.”