WMYACCL: Aldersley Stadium, Wolverhampton, Sun 09 February 2020

The arrival of Storm Ciara made for possibly the worst conditions as Tamworth AC’s junior athletes brought their cross country league season to an end. Disruption to travel forced a depleted team, but those who made the trip to Wolverhampton were not perturbed by the strong winds and heavy rain. On the contrary, some fantastic performances from the Tamworth youngsters made for a fitting finale to another successful season.

The earlier races missed the worst of the weather with the Under-11 Boys kicking things off for Tamworth in their 1.6km event. Dominic Harper was first over the line in an excellent 14th place with a time of 6:42. Jack Dolan was hot on his heels in 16th place on 6:51 and twin brother Oliver Dolan followed in 25th place on 7:06. All three boys have a 100% appearance record in the league this season and took 8th place on the day in the age group standings to secure 6th place in the final series results.

Under-11 Boys (left to right): Oliver Dolan, Jack Dolan & Dominic Harper

Ben Edwards returned from injury for the Under-17 Men’s 4.8km race; completing a Tamworth duo with Reinis Baltins for the first time this season. Reinis led Ben from the start, but Edwards found his stride to take 20th place with a time of 20:45, ahead of Baltins in 22nd place on 21:11. The results pushed the pair up from 13th place to finish the season in 11th in the age group standings.

The Tamworth Under-11 Girls trio, like the boys, also completed the full set of four races this season. Elizabeth Fleming had another superb race; leading the field for most of the 1.6km course, and just missing out on the win; succumbing to Daisy Frost of host club Wolverhampton & Bilston in the final stretch. Elizabeth’s outstanding performances over the season have earned her the individual silver medal; awarded in each age group based on athletes’ best three performances over the season. This is a remarkable achievement for the youngster in a very competitive league alongside some of the biggest clubs in the country. Hannah Beales continued to build her collection of impressive results with another top-10 finish in 9th place and 7:16 on the clock. Hannah’s improvement over the season has pushed her well up the individual series placings to finish in an excellent 11th place. Isla Rogers rounded off her first season of cross country competition in a solid 55th place with a time of 8:26; to help the girls finish in 7th place in the team series standings.

Elizabeth Fleming

Jessica Salt, another ever-present in the Tamworth team this season, added to her run of great results in the 2.5km Under-13 Girls competition. Jessica finished in 8th place with a time of 10:17 to secure 8th place in the individual series standings. Freya Cole had another solid run to take 29th place with 11:12.

The storm was in full force, with the rain hammering down by the time the 2.5km Under-13 Boys race got underway. Unfazed by any of it, Ben Godber and Francis White completed their 4 out of 4 races for the season with obvious determination. Ben was first over the line for Tamworth in 65th place, clocking 12:10, followed by Francis in 76th with 12:52.

By the end of the day the Under-15 Girls were left with a mud bath around their 3.2km race. Tegan Vickery, whose performances have markedly improved over the previous three events, saved her best until last; running head-to-head with teammate Phoebe O’Connor for a dramatic finish. Phoebe put on a late surge to catch and cross the line with Tegan, but with both clocking 15:28, the race officials gave 13th place to Tegan and 14th to Phoebe. Natasha Lee came in next for Tamworth in 28th place on 16:03 followed by Daisy Smith in 37th on 16:40. Another 100% appearance record for all four girls this season and 7th place on the day earned them 5th place in the final series standings; an excellent result for their efforts.

In the overall combined league table, Tamworth AC dropped one place to 11th, but team manager Ben Evans was still very impressed with the youngsters: “Those were tough conditions for anyone today, so to see these kids, some as young as nine, taking them on with such determination is hugely inspiring. The parents, supporters, our coach Colin Pleass and photographer Allen Cook all took the brunt of the storm too and I am so grateful for their incredible unwavering dedication throughout what’s been another marvellous season. Some of our athletes aren’t quite done yet, with inter-counties, national and schools championships coming up, but the rest of them can take a well-earned break from competition now to get themselves ready for the summer fixtures”

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