2nd February 2002
seven counties which form the South West Schools' Athletic Association came
together on a wind and rain swept Taunton Racecourse to dispute their annual
championships. The strengths and
weaknesses of the Dorset contingent were apparent after the County Championships
held a fortnight earlier in Weymouth, but illness, injury and other commitments
took their toll and a slightly below-par squad was on duty against the best that
Avon, Cornwall, Devon. Gloucestershire, Somerset and Wiltshire could muster.
with two individual gold medals and three individual silvers, as well as two
winning team performances, the Dorset runners and team managers had every reason
to be pleased with the afternoon. No
other county was able to boast as impressive a medal haul.
of place must go to the Junior Girls'
team. Nikki Hamblin led for much of the race shadowed by her Dorset rival,
Natalie Real. In the final stages and through the heavy, muddy conditions,
Natalie used her strength to reverse the positions in the county championships, Amanda Bailey, one year younger than Dorset's top pair,
challenged for the lead at one stage, but was forced to yield to her older
rivals. She can be well pleased
with her fifth place. With Abbie Lawson also in the top ten and Amber Austin
just outside, the team race was never in doubt.
year the Senior Boys won the team title and they repeated the feat this time,
though the result could scarcely have been closer. For much of the early part of
the race, county champion, Tom Oliver, and English Schools Intermediate 3000m
champion, Colin McCourt, were among the leading runners. As the mud took its
toll over the seven kilometre course, it was, surprisingly, the track specialist
who came through the stronger, though behind them, Richard Beasley was having
one of his best ever runs, finishing eleventh. In 23rd place, Charlie Lawrence
outsprinted his Somerset rival, without realising that the overall team position
hinged on the outcome of their personal battle.
He finished just three second clear, but that was sufficient to win the
title for Dorset, who scored the same number of points as the host county,
The Senior Girls' team were a fine second, despite the absence of the first two in the county championships. With only twelve places and twenty eight seconds covering the scoring six, they succeeded in recording the best Dorset Senior Girls' result for many years.
was a second team place for the Minor
Girls team for whom Georgina Varley and Hannah Stammas reversed their
finishing order from Weymouth.
Minor Boys finished fourth with
county champion, Jack Trivett, recording a splendid fourth place in his first
outing for the county schools' team.
they "only" finished fourth, the Intermediate
Boys team saw another one-two for Dorset.
Max Lacy, fresh from an outstanding run on Wednesday for his school in
the prestigious King Henry VIII Coventry relay, continued his rich vein of form to win impressively. It was,
however, the performance of Sean Hogan in second place that, perhaps, caught the
eye. A year younger than most of his rivals, he finished twelve seconds down on
his team mate, but ahead of some nationally ranked athletes from other counties.
An excellent run from the ever-reliable Antony Morris in eighth place was
not enough to compensate for the absence of one of the county's top runners and
the forced withdrawal of Andy Borthwick during the race.
A full strength squad would undoubtedly have won another trophy for
the Junior Boys there was an
excellent run by James Mowbray in second place. The team finished sixth.
Inter Girls struggled against the
elements and the opposition, but managed to finish with a scoring team, unlike
some of the other counties. Indeed, Dorset was one of only three counties that
managed to finish scoring teams in all eight races.
thanks to the team managers, particularly Pete Clarke, for coping so well
despite the trying conditions and to the many parents who came and supported -
their presence and their vocal encouragement were much appreciated.
Dorset Schools Athletic Association.