Tamworth AC’s junior athletes made the short trip to the Pingles Stadium in Nuneaton for the penultimate fixture of the West Midlands Young Athletes Cross Country League on Sunday. Condition were dry and windy on the day, but earlier rain had made the course wet and muddy and challenging in places.
First off for the Under-17 Women were Charlotte and Sophie Perry. Charlotte crossed the line to claim her best league finish of the season so far in 11th place with a time of 17:47; also putting her in an impressive 12th place in the overall individual standings. Sophie followed in a very good 29th place with a time of 19:25 amongst another strong field.
The Under-11 Boys were raring to go by the time the gun fired. Thomas Beales was first back for Tamworth in 12th place with a time of 8:24. Dominic Harper again gave Thomas a run for his money; his sprint finish not quite enough to catch his team mate but giving him a remarkable 13th place and time of 8:25. The pair also occupy 12th and 13th place in the overall standings going into the final race next month. Jack Dolan had another great race, taking 19th place with 8:37, as did twin brother Oliver in 31st place on 9:01. George Haddock has progressed well over the season and gave his all to complete the scoring five for Tamworth in 61st place with 9:38. Ellis Jones was next in 87th with 10:06, followed by Thomas Ladkin in 92nd with 10:16 and Carson Scott in 103rd with 10:51. Another excellent effort for the boys was rewarded with 4th place in the team standing on the day. They remain in 5th place overall but now level on points with Rugby & Northampton AC in 4th and within reach of Stratford upon Avon AC in 3rd place.
This fixture came just a little too early for Ben Edwards to return from a knee injury, leaving new man Reinis Baltins to carry the Tamworth flag in the Under-17 Men’s race. Reinis put in a solid run to improve on his debut last month and finish in 17th place with a time of 19:27.
The Under-11 Girls were next and in-form Elizabeth Fleming put in another excellent performance to take 3rd place with 8:22 on the clock. Not far behind, Hannah Beales stormed up the pecking order to claim 5th place with a time of 8:32; a massive improvement on an already strong set of results this season. Isla Rogers was next in 46th place with 9:53, followed by Grace Hirst in 67th 10:33; both youngsters continuing steady improvements in their finishing positions over the course of their first season. The girls finished 8th in the team standings on the day and sit in 7th place in the overall series age group table.
The Under-15 Boys race saw Aedan Mason and Oliver Goldsworthy reunited and both did well; working hard around a course that had been churned up underfoot by the previous races. Aedan finished in 43rd with a time of 14:16 and Oliver came over the line in 63rd with 15:39.
Jessica Salt followed up last week’s County Championships result with another excellent performance to take 8th place with a time of 10:30. Chloe Sharman followed close behind in 14th place with 10:40; joining Jessica in the top 10 of individual series standings with one race to go. Freya Cole returned to the team and did well to finish 36th with 11:21 and Chloe Purkis put in a solid effort to finish in 62nd place with 12:04.
Tamworth’s Under-13 Boys lined up as a trio, with regular Joseph Gorst suffering a broken wrist in training during the week. Ben Godber stepped up to lead the line for Tamworth, taking 82nd place with a time of 12:09. Francis White was next in 88th with 12:09 and William Newman came home in 99th place with 13:53.
The Under-15 Girls closed out the fixture with the last race of the day. Lottie McLaren, determined to improve on her 13th place in the previous two fixtures, put in a gutsy late surge to take 12th place on the finishing straight with a time of 14:56. Her consistent good form means that Lottie currently sits in 9th place in the individual age group series. Phoebe O’Connor notched another strong performance, coming in 27th place with a time of 15:33. Tegan Vickery, now well established as a regular face in the Tamworth team, ran her best race of the season, pushing up the field into 29th place and clocking 15:40. The scoring five was completed by Natasha Lee in 41st on 16:33 and Daisy Smith, who has also made excellent progress this season to take 46th place with 16:46. The superb set of results have pushed the Under-15 Girls team into the overall bronze medal position and will be looking to finish off the league season in style next month.
In the overall team series standings, Tamworth remain in 10th place going into the final match at Wolverhampton on Sunday 9th February.
Team Manager Ben Evans said “Again we’ve seen some great performances from our athletes and so many of them have been improving over the season. More importantly they look like they’re enjoying themselves and there’s an especially strong sense of togetherness in the team this season. Tenth place in the standings is really good in such a strong league and we are in touching distance of the teams ahead of us. If we get a few athletes back from injury, then I think we’re in for an exciting grand finale in Wolverhampton next month!”
Photographs by Allen Cook