For the top schools’ cross-country runners in Wales, all roads lead to Brecon on Saturday, March 18th, when the Penlan playing fields are the venue for the Welsh Schools’ National cross-country championships. This will be the fifty-fifth time for the event to be staged, and the sixteenth consecutive year that the fixture has been held at Brecon.
Welsh Schools will experiment with following the English Schools model of holding their Nationals the week before SIAB and the Home Countries International. The selection policy for this event is attached alongside this preview.
Welsh Schools would like to flag up that our association would very much welcome offers from teachers or other experienced adults to assist with management of our teams, both at endurance and track and field competitions. Offers can be tabled via our Support Officer, Steve Jones.
Car Parking on Saturday
Athletes, supporters and spectators, who are travelling to the event by car, are advised that the Lower Car Park at Brecon High School is no longer available following the installation of security fencing at the school, you are also advised that the limited parking at the track is for officials only. These restrictions mean that parking space will be at a premium and you are asked to arrive early and park responsibly.The post code is LD3 9SR.
We would like to record our grateful thanks to the Head and Governing Body of Brecon High School for allowing us to use the school’s front car park.
Some exciting competitions are anticipated in the eight race programme, particularly in the junior, middle and senior sections, in which selection for the teams to compete at the SIAB schools and Home Countries internationals, at Margam Park, Port Talbot on March 25th, are at stake.
The Junior Girls will get the event started at 1pm, this is one of the most competitive contests of the day with the likes of Daisy Thompson (Bro Myrddin), Ashleigh Willis (Olchfa), Samia Jones (Syr Hugh Owen) and Orla Davies (Myddleton College) set to battle it out with the Cardiff & the Vale pairing of Aimee Callow (YG Bro Edern) and Eden Williams (Whitchurch). Sadly, Caitlin Gwyther (Gwyr) has been forced to withdraw after failing to recover from injury in time, her presence would have spiced up the confrontation even more, we wish her well and hope to see her back to top form as soon as possible.
It has been a case of “west is best” for our Under 13 Boys this winter, we expect to see Iori Humphreys (Pembroke) battling with Bro Myrddin team mates Liam Edwards and Dafydd Jones. Add to this mix recently crowned Under 15 Welsh Champion Mike Spill (Friars), the ever reliable Osian Perrin (St. Gerrards) and the Glamorgan Valleys duo of Joe Reardon (Rhydywaun) and Jacob Reynolds (Y Gwyndy) and it is difficult to pick a winner, also on fire on the indoors this winter has been James Jones (Argoed), it will be interesting to see if he can take his track form onto the country.
Cari Hughes (Syr Thomas Jones) is down to defend her Senior Girls title (1:40pm), it will be interesting to see if she makes it to the start line following her GB Cross Country selection, if Cari does decide to keep her powder dry for the trip to Uganda then last year’s bronze medallist Bethan Evans (Y Pant) will be expected to feature alongside Glamorgan Valleys team mates Naomi Reid (also Y Pant) and Brynteg’s finest Isobel Dodd. Triathlete Abbie Williams (Pembroke) is also sure to be in the mix for podium places.
The Year 7 races which follow are likely to produce some surprises and see some new names coming to the fore. The form athlete amongst the boys this winter has been another Bro Myrddin product, Frank Morgan. The Year 7 Girls event is wide open, it will be interesting to follow the form of Neisha Roberts (Brynhyfryd), sister of Mia, who races later in the day as a Middle Girl. Good luck to all those making WSAA National debuts.
The Senior Boys race will give another opportunity for Oliver Barbaresi (Friars) and Dominic Smith (Olchfa) to renew their friendly rivalry. Also entered is a certain Jake Heyward (Llanishen), not a regular on the country, but someone who will focus the minds of the opposition if he lines up. Another who falls into the same category is Matthew Williams (Milford Haven). Elliot Lawrence has had another consistent season on the country and can be a real threat.
The afore mentioned Mia Roberts (Brynhyfryd) will start as a clear favourite in the Middle girls after a dominant performance in the recent Welsh Championships at Singleton. Her nearest challengers are likely to be the Cardiff & Vale pairing of Kiara Frizelle (Cathedral) and Carys Bill (Plasmawr) alongside Eluned King (Gwyr) and Mollie Jones (Bae Baglan). Also returning to form is Abi Fisher (Crickhowell), another athlete with a great WSAA record.
The final race of the day will see the Middle boys go head to head, this again is a difficult one to call with Morgan James (Gelli Haf), Ben Thomas (Strade) and Louis Spencer (Stanwell) all showing good form this winter, add to that the North Wales pairing of Cedol Dafydd (Tryfan) and Ethan Ackroyd (Mold Alun) along with the front running of Nathan Jones (Bishopston) and we should get an intriguing battle.
Dyfed’s domination was seriously questioned last year, with both Eryri and Afan Nedd Tawe claiming two sections apiece although Dyfed did hang on to retain the Overall Points Cup. Under the guidance of Dr Hedydd Davies, the district always fields good teams and they are likely to repeat their 2016 successes again. It will again prove intriguing to see if the other Districts can continue to narrow the gap in 2017.
All event administration and results will be done inside the pavilion, which is where team managers will report to collect any programmes ordered and make any team changes.
WALKING THE COURSE
As part of the event risk assessment, every competing athlete is advised to walk the course BEFORE they compete – to ensure that they know where they are going and to check for any potential hazards. If a competitor identifies a potential hazard, they must report it to the event organisers.
HEADPHONES, IPODS & OTHER SIMILAR AUDIO DEVICES
Welsh Schools’ Executive has ruled that the wearing of headphones, iPods or other similar devices in a race constitutes a health & safety hazard. Pupils are not to wear them while competing.
ATHLETE WELFARE – AND ON THE DAY WEATHER
The forecast for Saturday is not good, it is unlikely that we will have a dry day this time
Whatever the weather, it is important that athletes and spectators come equipped with appropriate footwear and waterproof and windproof outer clothing. A marquee is provided for the use of teams and spectators.
First aid cover is being provided by an experienced group from the St John’s, who are likely to be based on the corner of the grandstand.
Awards will be presented to the first three individuals in each race and to the scoring members (six to score) of the first three complete teams in each section.
Presentations will be made through the afternoon, and will take place at the rear of the pavilion.
Provisional results will appear on the Welsh Athletics website as soon as possible, with a report following early next week.