Welsh Schools National Cross-Country Championships
Penlan Arena, Brecon – Wednesday March 7th
It was all systems go following 2 days of frantic activity as the 56th. WSAA Championships took place at Brecon. Weather and underfoot conditions had improved rapidly during Monday and Tuesday as Schools officers shovelled snow, re-designed the course and reverted to the old finish area in order to get the event staged and underway. The course, although heavy in places stood up well as athletes from the 8 School Districts battled it out.
The event got underway with the Junior Girls race at 1pm. Samia Jones (Syr Hugh Owen) continued to dominate as she moved away from a quality field and opened a gap which was never closed down. Eryri team-mate Abbi Parkinson (Brynrefail) took silver with Abigail Davies (Porthcawl) securing the bronze. Cardiff & the Vale made a good start to their assault on the overall team title as they packed 6 scorers into the top 14, led home by Moli Lyons (Bro Morgannwg) in 4th.
Next up were the Junior Boys (school years 8 and 9). The victory in this race went to Adam Beer (Glan y Mor), underlining the potential he had shown at the recent Welsh Championships at Singleton Park, Swansea. Huw Jones (Brynhyfryd) representing North East Wales came home 13 seconds behind in 2nd, whilst Iori Humphreys (Pembroke) led home a procession of Dyfed athletes to take bronze. It was Dyfed’s turn to dominate the team competition packing their 6 scorers into the top 15.
Race 3 saw the Senior Girls battle it out, again victory went to the race’s early leader as Abi Fisher (Crickhowell) moved to the front early on and was never caught. Kiara Frizelle (Radyr) looked solid in 2nd. with last year’s silver medallist Abbie Williams (Pembroke) this year pushed back into 3rd. Cardiff & Vale again dominated the team event.
The Year 7 races are always an unknown quantity with so many running their first Championship at National level. This year it was Powys’s turn to dominate on home territory as firstly Jack Organ (Gwernyfed) and then Maddie Griffiths (Welshpool) took the individual titles. Jack winning a real burn-up in the closing staged from Ysgol David Hughes pairing Harri Morgan and Dylan Robb. Maddie’s win was no more comfortable as she held off Chloe Hale (Bro Gwaun) and Ella Grundy (Dyffryn Conwy) with all separated by only 3 seconds. Powys took the boys team prize, with Dyfed winning the girls.
A large group of around a dozen athletes broke away early in the Senior Boys event and it was not until the latter stages that this broke up as pace was injected. James Vincent (Whitchurch) was the eventual champion as he held off the Afan Nedd Tawe pairing of Dominic Smith (Olchfa) and Elliot Lawrence (St. Joseph’s). Elliot just holding off the fast finishing Larry Ryan (Radyr) as both were credited with identical times.
There were upsets galore in the final 2 races of the day as firstly Mia Roberts (Brynhyfryd) and then James Penrose (Wycliff) defended the titles won in 2017. Sadly, Mia pulled out whilst leading during the race due to feeling unwell and this opened the door for Afan Nedd Tawe’s Ashleigh Willis (Olchfa) to take the Middle Girls crown from Nia Clatworthy (Porthcawl) and the previously unheralded Sioned Cordiner (Brynhyfryd) in bronze. Afan Nedd Tawe comfortably taking the team awards. The Middle Boys race produced an even bigger surprise. The early pace was set by Joe Reardon (Rhydywaun) with his usual front running approach, he was closely followed by a group which included the defending champion as well as Louis Spencer (Stanwell) and Osian Perrin (St Gerrards). However, the real action was taking place way behind, Ystalyfera’s Finley Hines had his usual conservative start and was back in 18th. place after the small lap. He then gradually reeled in those in front of him, taking the lead as the field was directed into the finish, going on to take his first WSAA title from Louis Spencer and Joe Reardon. It was Eryri’s turn to take a team title, closed out by Cai Llywd Jones (Brynrefail) in 19th.
It was Cardiff & the Vale who ended the dominance that Dyfed have had in the overall team competition as they took this years’ title with Eryri in second and Dyfed pushed back into third. 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 who would not be beaten by the recent adverse weather.
For many of our young athletes’ thoughts now turn to Wollaton Park on Saturday, March 24th. with the climax of the Cross- Country season as English Schools hosts the combined SIAB and Home Countries Cross-Country Internationals. Good luck to all who have earned selection.
Report written by Steve Jones, WSAA Support Officer
Full Race Results from the Welsh Schools Cross-Country Championships can be found here : http://results.welshathletics.org/2018_XC_WSAA_Brecon_070318/07032018/