Athletics
Sheppard leads the way at Sandwell

Wednesday 19 December 2012 Updated: 19/12 17:24

THE West Midlands Young Athletes Cross Country League bandwagon rumbled on to Sandwell near West Bromwich for round three.

The athletes coped with the soft ground better than the vehicles that were being winched from the muddy car park after the last race.

A terrific turn-out of nine lined-up for the under 11 girls race and finished 9th.

Imogen Sheppard (7th, 6.52) showed her trademark speed to set-off with the leaders and remained in the same company throughout.

Hugely positive debuts from Sophia Linklater (60th, 7.26) and Ellie Bryan (68th, 7.34) were two of the highlights.

They were followed by Daisy Musk (72nd, 7.54) another debutant in Suzie Mishima (87th, 8.03), Isla Jackson (88th, 8.03) and Jodi Watson (89th, 8.03).

There is never much between Charlotte Gravelsons (113rd, 8.36) and Emily Curtis (116th, 8.45) and this race told a very familiar story.

The three under 17 women experienced mixed fortunes as they accumulated enough points for 7th place.

Tas Pope (6th, 16.33) is a model of consistency and her 4th place overall this season is testament to her winter fitness.

She was followed by Rachel Jones (33rd, 19.53) and Abigail Flynn (36th, 20.08).

Owain Jones (14th, 6.38) ran another solid race in the under 11 boys finishing 100 metres ahead of Archie Musk (25th, 6.55) which helped secure a third place team finish.

Adam Bayliss (46th, 7.17) occupied the same position as he did at Wolverhampton and the adroit James Bexson (57th, 7.38) put in a fantastic performance, seemingly able to summon up reserves of energy at will.

Seth Cooper (59th, 7.40) ran a much improved race after a slightly below-par result in round two, followed by Tom Alder (65th, 7.47) and debutant Oliver Bacon (70th, 7.55).

Harriet Flynn (45th, 16.30) ran a smashing race in the under 15 girls event and there was also a pleasing run from Caroline Furey (35th, 15.55). Finishing 14th with just two runners was as good as anyone could have expected.

Since moving to an older training group, Michael Redmile (9th, 8.37) has flourished, Murray Jackson (44th, 9.29) looked remarkably cool and Oliver Lambourn (78th, 10.17) had an interesting debut.

A swift finish from Dominic Furey (92nd, 11.17) was a joy to behold and it was great to see Matthew Vickers (95th, 11.45) trotting over the line after he endured aches and pains on the way round.

The under 13 boys achieved a brilliant 8th position on the day.

Three of Stratford’s under 13 girls team ran at a recent Inter-Counties Schools event in Stoke which proved valuable experience.

Georgina Mitchell (15th, 9.26) led the team home from Rebecca Winn (23rd, 9.45), Eugenia Bessey (28th, 9.47), Jessica Sheppard (41st, 10.00) and Hannah Bexson (47th, 10.09). The team finished 5th.

First home for the high-performing under 15 boys (7th place) was Fergus Allison (17th, 12.51), finishing ahead of Alex Eves (24th, 13.05), Matt Bayliss (44th, 14.01), Jonathon Furey (61st, 15.10), Oliver Evans (71st, 16.25) and Calum Lambourne (73rd, 16.41).

Last to run were the under 17 men who experienced the worst conditions but Nye Davis (24th, 20.10) and Sean Cawley (50th, 25.19) were pleased with the outcome.

The positions of the age group teams after three of the five races this season are under 11 girls (11th), u11 boys (3rd), u13 girls (6th), u13 boys (11th), u11 girls (11th), u15 girls (11th), u15 boys (7th), u17 women (8th), u17 men (12th).

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