Mercier and Wilesmith lead medalling senior teams at Hampshire Cross Country championships- writes Jamie Ingrouille ( images Alan Rowe, Darren Lewin & Paul Hammond[Summer Woodhead image copyright:- Hammy4321]).
Saturday 7th January saw around 50 Guernsey athletes take part in one of the most competitive cross-country events on the GIAAC calendar. The Hampshire Athletics Cross Country Championships were held at Fairthorne Manor, Botley. Some mud was inevitable with the previous evening’s downpour but conditions were otherwise benign.
The day started out on a high with Summer Woodhead’s gutsy win in the U13 girl’s race. Last year’s U11 bronze medalist relished the challenge of the new age group and was in contention right from the starting gun. Woodhead came into the finishing field with a considerable gap on her competitors and proceeded to finish with a 12 second lead. Her teammate Victoria Hancock took third after narrowly losing out in a sprint finish. The pair led the way to a team bronze.
Louis Le Cheminant was 7th in the U15 boy’s race, with Eliza Mason taking 8th in the equivalent girl’s race.
Danny Ray showed good form by placing third in the U20 men’s race. Daniel Galpin was 8th in the same small but high-quality field. Meanwhile, his brother Sammy put in a solid run for 8th in the contemporary U17 men’s race, in which teammate Alex Rowe also made the top ten. Sam Culverwell narrowly missed the top ten but his performance contributed towards an U17 team bronze.
A variety of strong performances paved the way to a senior women’s team silver. While reigning champion Louise Small and former inter-counties champion Louise Damen fought for honours in the highly competitive race, Sarah Mercier (4th) and Louise Perrio (5th) ensured that Guernsey were in contention for a team reward. “I was pleased with the overall position, though I think maybe I could have started a little bit more conservatively in the first couple of miles” says Mercier. Jenny James (15th) and Nikki Neal (21st) sealed off the counting quartet, with James also earning an age group silver.
The Guernsey men’s squad managed to secure a bronze medal in the similarly competitive senior men’s race, which was dominated by Southampton’s Alex Teuten. Only Michael Wilesmith scraped an individual top ten result but David Emery (12th), Peter Amy (23rd), Tristan Robilliard (27th), Alan Rowe (34th) and James De Garis (37th) all played their part in cementing the medal honours. Alan Rowe also had the distinction of being second in the V50 age group.
The trip was supported by FNB in a new agreement that extends their support of local Cross Country events towards targeted high level off-island fixtures.
In finishing in the top eight, several athletes have made a strong case for county selection in the Inter Counties Cross Country Championships in March. Congratulations to those who have received selection letters. Several local cross country fixtures provide a more immediate focus for Guernsey athletes. The next race of the FNB series, the ‘Stonecrusher Long’, takes place on January 21st.
full results here
Power of 10 results here