SIAB Cross Country
Santry Demesne, Dublin, Saturday, March 23rd.
From Steve Jones:
The SIAB Cross Country International took place at the home of Irish Schools Athletics and on the same course last used in 2015. Athletes making the short walk from the overnight accommodation to the parkland surrounding Moreton Stadium on Saturday. Dry weather conditions and a fast, the relatively flat and firm course made for competitive racing at the course, situated on the outskirts of Dublin and a stone’s throw from the busy International airport. The course presented to athletes were combinations of 1k and 1500m loops which made up the varying distances usual for the Junior and Middle age groupings.
The programme began with the Junior Girls race where English Schools dominated as all 8 of their athletes finished within the top10. Gwenno Goode (Bro Morgannwg) fought hard throughout but had to settle for 11th. place on the line, with good support from Sophie Evans (Y Dderwen) and Ceri Griffiths (Bassaleg) in 14th and 18th. respectively the team took a well-deserved bronze medal behind the Scots in second.
The Junior Boy’s race followed and this saw one of the best individual performances of the day by a Welsh Schools athlete, Frank Morgan (Bro Myrddin) lost one of his spikes shortly after the start, but despite this, remained in touch with the lead group throughout. With just the one shoe he found it difficult to accelerate as the pace was cranked up on the final lap but still finished a highly creditable 9th. Osian Tyrrell (Plasmawr) had a fine run to finish 12th. as did Ollie Jones (Newtown High) in 20th.
The Middle Girls race saw another dominant performance from the English Schools team with only Anna Hedley of Scottish Schools being able to challenge. The English team closing out with their sixth scorer in seventh place overall. Samia Jones (Syr Hugh Owen) and Fiona Bostock (Howell’s) were the Welsh athletes with top 20 finishes as Samia came home in 16th. and Fiona 20th.
Lloyd Sheppard (Blackwood) has been in top form throughout the winter and he capped his season with the performance of the day as he finished 7th. in yet another English Schools dominated race for the Middle Boys. Lloyd remained competitive throughout and showed real maturity and confidence. Ben Reynolds (Y Gwyndy) was another top 20 finisher in 16th. Ben has returned to cross country competition this year following some time out for indoor racing and has performed consistently across the winter cross country programme.
The SIAB event this year closed with a mixed relay event over 4 1500m legs. This was included as an experiment within the timetable and was a highly popular addition which is sure to feature again in future years. The race order was girl, boy, girl boy. For Welsh Schools Aimee Callow (Glantaf) took the lead off leg, Dafydd Jones then produced the second fastest boys time of the day overall as he went around the 1500m loop in 4:25, it was Abbi Parkinson (Brynrefail) who then handed over to debutant James Griffiths (Y Dderwen) as the team covered the 6k in a total time of 19:41, sadly only good enough for 4th. overall. Again, it was the team from English Schools who took gold completing a clean sweep of wins across both individual and team events.
The thanks of team leader Zane Maynard (Morriston Comprehensive) goes to all the athletes who performed so well, the team management who supported the athletes on the day and all the families and friends who were so vocal and provided such encouragement around the course.