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Welsh Schools Cross Country Championships Round-Up

The start of the middle girls race -Schools XC 2023.jpg

29/02/2024 00:00, In Blog /

Hundreds of young athletes from all over Wales descended on Brecon to contest the 61st Welsh Schools National Cross Country Championships on Wednesday.

Braving the threat of rain and a claggy course underfoot they chased personal and team glory as they represented the eight Welsh school districts.

For the top finishers in the junior and middle age groups, there was also the incentive of qualifying for selection to represent Wales at the SIAB Cross Country Championships in Dublin next month.

More than 80 athletes toed the line for the first race of the day – the 3,540m Junior Girls event.

As the large field settled down following the early exchanges, Bryony Boyce (Cardiff and the Vale of Glamorgan) eased her way to the front of the field.

And that’s where the reigning schools champion would stay, dominating the race from the front, crossing the line in 11:46 to take the win ahead of Nansi Griffiths (Dyfed) in 11:54 and Martha Bown (Eryri) in 11:58.

The team race was won by Dyfed ahead of Cardiff and the Vale in second and Glamorgan Valleys in third.

The Junior Boys race, contested over 4,500m, attracted another big field of more than 80 athletes.

The early running was made by a group of four – Osian Parry (Eryri), Lewis Davies (North East Wales), Tom Garrod (South East Wales) and Finlay Burns (Cardiff and the Vale of Glamorgan).

Four became two as Parry and Garrod moved away from the rest of the field and it was Eryri athlete Parry, who crossed the line in 13:47, three seconds ahead of Garrod, with Davies third in 14:01.

Cardiff and the Vale of Glamorgan took the team honours ahead of South East Wales and North East Wales.

The Senior Girls race over 4,830m featured a smaller field but was no less fiercely fought with a group of seven athletes breaking away from the rest of the field once the contest had settled down.

Mali Macduff (Glamorgan Valleys) led the group for much of the race, but it was Lily Oakenful (South East Wales) who timed her effort to perfection and claimed the win in 18:07, three seconds ahead of Macduff. Sophie Hartley-Green (Afan Need Tawe) was third in 18:18. There was no result in the team race.

The Year Seven Boys race was another to boast a big entry of more than 80 athletes and once the early jostling for position was over, three athletes started to move away from the field.

And it was the same three who were contesting the medals at the end of the 2,580m course.

Such was his speed down the final straight, Osian Phillips (Cardiff and the Vale of Glamorgan) caught officials by surprise before they could unroll the finish line tape, but he crossed the line ahead of Thomas Cai Davies (Dyfed) in second with Lewis Durston (Glamorgan Valleys) third. The finishing times are to be confirmed.

Phillips’ win helped Cardiff and the Vale of Glamorgan win the team race with Dyfed second and Glamorgan Valleys third.

Like the Year Seven Boys, the Year Seven Girls were experiencing their first taste of the championships as they tackled the 2,580m course.

The athletes may have been inexperienced as far as this event was concerned but Manon Phillips (Dyfed) produced a front-running masterclass as she led from the early stages to the finishing line, stopping the clock in 9:22.

Nansi Shide (Glamorgan Valleys) was second in 9:36 and Eva Martin (Cardiff and the Vale of Glamorgan) third in 9:42, thanks to a sprint finish where she edged out teammate Sophia Davies.

Dyfed were victorious in the team race with South East Wales second and Eryri third.

Similar to the Senior Girls, there was a smaller select field for the Senior Boys race, which was contested over 5,790m.

Once again, the race produced an impressive performance from an athlete who took control early on and never loosened his grip.

Having hit the front, Henry Evans (South East Wales) rarely looked like relinquishing his lead and rounded off an impressive performance to take the win in 17:45.

There was a right old scrap down the final straight behind him as Ifan Bowen (Dyfed) managed to hold off the challenge of Jack Organ (Powys) to cross in 18:08 – just a second ahead of his rival. Once again there was no result in the team race.

The Middle Girls race was a much-anticipated contest with a strong field headed by reigning champion Millie Gold (Cardiff and the Vale of Glamorgan) and Welsh Cross Country Championship Under-15 winner Libby Hale (Afan Need Tawe).

The early stages of the 4,500m race were as closely contested as expected, but it was Hale who started to assert her influence and she eventually ran out a relatively comfortable winner in 14:47. Gold finished second in 15:10 with Abigail Doherty (North East Wales) third in 15:17.

Afan Need Tawe took the team race with Cardiff and the Vale of Glamorgan second ahead of Dyfed in third.

The final race of the day was the Middle Boys race, which would be fought out over a 5,790m course.

With the Bannau Brycheiniog starting to emerge from the rain and mist in the background overlooking Penlan Arena, it was perhaps fitting that Miguel Jenkins (Eryri) should dominate the majority of this race.

And it was Jenkins who arrived in the finishing straight clear of the field to win in 18:35 ahead of Samuel Boyce (Cardiff and the Vale of Glamorgan) in 18:46 and Tomos Horn (Cardiff and the Vale of Glamorgan), who caught William Harries (Dyfed) in a sprint finish to claim third in 18:47.

Cardiff and the Vale of Glamorgan won the team race ahead of Dyfed and Glamorgan Valleys.