All roads lead to Brecon’s Penlan Arena on Saturday when the first significant cross-country championships of the winter – the 35th staging of the Welsh Schools Inter Schools competition – take place.
This will be the eleventh time that Brecon has hosted the event, and Meeting Organiser Derek Osborne will be hoping for a dry and mild day. In 2009, the event was nearly cancelled because of the heavy rainfall both in the days leading up to and on the day of the event while, last year, there was a bitingly cold wind from the north east.
More than seventy schools and colleges have indicated that they intend to send pupils to compete, but, with teams not being declared until the day, it is difficult to make accurate predictions on athletes who will be taking part.
Of last year’s six winners – Morgan Davies (Porthcawl, senior boy), Kyran Roberts (Queen Elizabeth, u16), John Spill (Friars, u14), Ffion Price (Llandrindod, senior girl), Olivia Gwyn (Bishopston, u16) and Rosa Yates (u14) – only Ffion is likely to defend her title. If she does win, she will create a little piece of history because no girl has ever won this title on three consecutive occasions – and the feat has only been achieved in the senior boys’ competition by Colin Jones (Brynrefail, 1989-91).
Ffion’s stiffest competition may come from her twin, Rhianwedd, Megan Withers (Tasker Milward), Sarah Livett (David Hughes) and Malika Rezougui (Blackwood).
In the absence of Morgan Davies, the senior boys’ individual title may head west. Josh Griffiths (Amman Valley) has been second for the last two years and would love to sign off with a win but he can expect tough competition from Liam Lloyd (Coleg Sir Gar), Ronan Llyr (Bro Myrddin), Lloyd Heckler (Queen Elizabeth) and Kyran Roberts.
Two Eryri athletes are likely to be at the front of the u16 boys’ race. Andrew Morris-Jones (Llangefni) won the u14 title in 2008, as a year 7, while John Spill won that race last year. Adding spice to that event will be Lewis Jones (Maesteg), the u15 winner at the Nationals in March, and John Cove (Cardiff High).
With Olivia Gwynn (Bishopston), winner at these championships for the last three years, not taking part in the u16 girls’ section, the pre-race favourite is likely to be year 9 Rosa Yates (Brynteg) but two year 10 pupils – Lara Philippart (Olchfa) and Kate Seary (Whitchurch) – will also be looking for that top spot.
The fixture starts with the two u14 races for pupils in years 7 & 8. It will be intriguing to see if the Cardiff & Vale duo of Seren Allin (Cowbridge) and Jake Heyward (Llanishen), winners of the year 7 races at the Nationals last March, can add these titles to their list of credits. In the girls’ race, year 8 Cari Hughes (Syr Thomas Jones, Amlwch) will not want to make the long journey from Anglesey without claiming a medal.
Before the first race at 1.15 pm, there will be races for the primary schools in the Mid Wales Partnership.
Declaration for the six Inter Schools races will open at 11 am, and team managers are asked to report to collect numbers by 1 pm.
Awards will be made to the first three individuals in each race and to the first three teams (four to score). Presentations will be made at the rear of the pavilion throughout the afternoon.
Athletes need to walk the course before they run.
Competing athletes need to be close to the start at least ten minutes before the scheduled start time. Numbers are to be worn on the front of a vest, and need to be fixed by four pins.
Athletes are not permitted to wear an iPod (or similar audio device) while they are competing
||U14 Girls (Yr7 & 8)
||U14 Boys (Yr7 & 8)
||U16 Girls (Yr9 &10)
||U16 Boys (Yr9 & 10)