Dorset Schools Cross Country Championships
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The Wey Valley School hosted the 2002 edition of the Dorset Schools' Cross Country Championships. Master-minded by Pete Clarke with the invaluable help of Richard Edgely, Head of PE at Wey Valley, as well as many staff and pupils of the school, the afternoon was a resounding success.

Despite some wet and windy weather in the lead-up to the day, the elements were kind to runners and spectators alike with only a few spots of rain during the afternoon.  The courses consisted of playing fields at the start and finish, with rough pasture land, muddy in places, as well as hard tracks with steady inclines to test the runners.

The first race of the afternoon was the Intermediate Girls in which an "unknown" runner, Lucy Kember of Bournemouth, ran home strongly to win from athletes who have represented the county on several occasions in the past. With four Bournemouth runners in the first five, there was never any doubt about the team race.

In the Intermediate Boys' race, North Dorset's Max Lacy was the hot favourite and he did not disappoint, though Poole's Sean Hogan fought all the way to secure an impressive second place in his first year in this category.  Although their first runner was "only" fifth , Bournemouth had four in the first ten to claim their second team race of the afternoon.

The Minor Boys' race provided the opportunity to see the stars of the future.  South and West's Jack Trivett held off the long striding Jack Astley to gain his first county trophy.

In the Minor Girls' race,  the leading pair were locked together throughout the race, and it was only towards the finish that Bournemouth's Hannah Stammas was able to break away from North's Georgina Varley. The areas shared the leading positions, but it was North that prevailed when the totals were added up.

The Junior Girls' race was anticipated as likely to be the closest fought of the afternoon and so it proved. South and West's Nikki Hamblin set off with great determination, shadowed by Poole's Natalie Real, much as the pair had done in the Dorset clubs' championships a fortnight earlier.  This time, however, Nikki was able to respond to her rival's threat, though a mere two seconds separated them at the finish. With Bournemouth's young star, Amanda Bailey, finishing third, there is every indication that this is a strong team which should do well in inter county competition. With five in the first ten, Poole were convincing team winners.

The Junior Boys' race brought last year's Minor Boys' winner, Luke Greenwood, face to face with the unknown James Mowbray from the North. The latter's strength in the closing stages was sufficient to carry him clear to an impressive win with his team producing an emphatic victory also.  Aaron Davies may have finished fourth, but it would have been interesting to see how he would have fared if he had not been obliged to run much of the course in his socks, having lost both his shoes in the mud on the furthest part of the course.

The result of the Senior Girls' race was never in doubt.  Bournemouth's international, Charlotte Moore, ranked top in the country in her age group over 800m and recent victor in the prestigious Reebok Challenge in Cardiff, set off as if her life depended on it and came home almost two minutes clear of her nearest rival, Tamsyn Rutter. In an age group which often sees minimal participation, it was gratifying to count twenty finishers in this race, with the strength in depth as good as any year in the past. They could do well at the next stage. Meanwhile, Charlotte will be exchanging the mud of Weymouth for the firmer conditions of Portugal when she represents G.B. next weekend.

The Senior Boys were the last to run and, surprisingly, were outnumbered by the girls.  With Colin McCourt, top ranked in the country for his age over 1500m and current English Schools' 3000m champion taking part, the pace on the opening lap was unsurprisingly quick. However, it was his Bournemouth team mate, Tom Oliver, who tracked him in the early stages before using his strength on the last long lap to pull clear to record an emphatic win. Richard Beasley looked strong in third.

Many of the runners on show will be in action again for the county as the South West Schools Championships take place in Taunton in a fortnight's time.  Hopes are high for some individual as well as some team victories.