Welsh Schools National Cross-Country Championships
Penlan Arena, Brecon – Wednesday, March 11th. - RACE REPORT from Steve Jones
Squally rain showers and a stiff breeze greeted the athletes for the 58th. staging of the Welsh Schools “Nationals”. With the course very heavy underfoot and much changed from that originally planned, this led to a sequence of 8 highly competitive races as the cream of our young endurance athletes battled it out for team and individual titles as well as selection for the SIAB International to be held in Falkirk (now cancelled). The difficulty of the course was clearly evidenced with 535 finishers from the 555 who arrived at the start line across the 8 races
The event got underway with the Junior Girls race at 1pm. This saw the first of some really close finishes across the age groups on the day with the leading two athletes given the same time (12:44), but it was Bethan Hardman (Cowbridge) who just edged out Eden Edwards (St Richard Gwyn). It was Beca Haf Bown (Bodedern) finishing just 3 more seconds behind to secure the bronze. Cardiff & the Vale made a good start to their defence of the overall team title as they packed 6 scorers into the top 13 and comfortably took the team title from Glamorgan Valleys and South East Wales.
Next up were the Junior Boys (school years 8 and 9). The victory in this race went to Callum Morgan (Welshpool) over Charlie Harris (Cwm Rhymni – Gelli Haf) and Aled Breeze (Newtown) all three separated by just one second as the winner came home in 17:23. It was Dyfed’s turn to take a team title as they were closed out by Rhys Caygill (Preseli) in 26th. Powys and South East Wales taking the other team medals.
Race 3 saw the Senior Girls battle it out, it was Ashleigh Willis (Olchfa) who took the spoils, following up her recent Welsh Championship at Pembrey with another WSAA title, she was comfortably ahead of Cardiff & the Vale athletes Mia Goddard (Cardiff Sixth Form) and Aimee Callow (Glantaf). Cardiff & Vale again dominated the team event with only Eryri also being able to finish 6 athletes as they took silver.
The Year 7 races are always an unknown quantity with so many running their first Championship at National level. This year’s winners were firstly William Harris (Haverfordwest High) and then on home territory Ruby Herdman (Brecon High) taking their first individual titles. William winning a close fought battle with Dyfed team-mate Clement Gordon (Castle School) and Macsen Toogood (Bro Dinefwr) as again the officials had the task of separating the first two as they shared the same time (8:03). Ruby’s win was a little more comfortable as she took a 6 second victory, with a great battle behind resulting in Josephine Hurst (Alun School) holding off Mabli Phillips (Glantaf) over their 2370m race. Cardiff & Vale again took the girls team prize, with Dyfed winning the boys.
Victory in the Senior Boys went to the in-form Lloyd Sheppard (Cross Keys College) taking his first WSAA cross country title. Lloyd has been one of the most consistent Welsh performers over the country this winter and thoroughly deserves his win. Silver went to Finley Hines (Neath Port Talbot College), always a good bet at Brecon with Ben Reynolds (Cardiff High) in the unfamiliar colours of Cardiff & the Vale taking another WSAA medal with the bronze. The team title went to Glamorgan Valleys with Cardiff & the Vale and Afan Nedd Tawe collecting silver and bronze.
Last year’s Middle Girls champion Samia Jones (Syr Hugh Owen) made a successful defence of her 2019 title with a comfortable victory in her usual front-running style. Gwenno Goode (Bro Morgannwg), last Year’s Junior Girls winner, made a seamless step up into the age group in second pushing last year’s runner up Moli Lyons (Bro Morgannwg) into bronze. Adam Beer (Glan Y Mor) made a welcome return to top form in the final race of the day, Rhys Hardman (Cowbridge) finished 17 seconds behind (18:25) to take silver with Adam’s Dyfed team mate Dafydd Jones (Bro Myrddin) just edging out Frank Morgan (also Bro Myrddin) to take the day’s final individual medal. With 6 finishers in the first 8 Dyfed took a comfortable team win leaving Cardiff & the Vale and Glamorgan Valleys far behind in second and third. The Middle Girls team medals went to Cardiff & the Vale as they took an equally comfortable team win from South East Wales and Glamorgan Valleys.
It was Cardiff & the Vale who again took the overall team title. This was testament to a series of consistent performances throughout the day and the ability to field full senior teams when other districts struggle for numbers.
The thanks of all at WSAA goes to all those who contributed to another successful day, especially to our team of dedicated volunteer officials and Welsh Athletics staff who make the delivery of events possible and to the WSAA officers and volunteers (Gareth Oldham, Derek Price & Peter Price) who worked so hard on the Tuesday to re-plan and reorganise the course following recent rain making large parts unusable.
Individual medals were all awarded by WSAA Chairman Dai Gatehouse on the day. However, due to a bulk order of medals being delayed in China due to Covid 19, team medals will be forwarded to School Districts as soon as available.
PLEASE BE AWARE THAT ALL RESULTS REMAIN PROVISIONAL – ANY AMENDMENTS NEED TO BE WITH ME BEFORE FRIDAY, MARCH 20th.
WSAA Support Officer