South West Counties Cross Country Championships 2001
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Minor Girls Junior Girls Intermediate Girls Senior Girls
Minor Boys Junior Boys Intermediate Boys Senior Boys

Ferndown Upper School, Dorset

Saturday 3rd February 2001

 Dorset Schools hosted the annual South West Counties Cross Country Championships at Ferndown Upper School.  Excellent preparation by Andy Ogilvie, Head of P.E. at the school, meant that athletes were able to enjoy a well marked and testing course, despite the fact that the going was mostly flat.  The soft ground and the pace of the runners meant that all involved "knew that they had been in a race" by the time they finished. With a team of expert s from Bournemouth Athletic Club to look after starting, timing and judging there was little chance of error.  Thanks are also due to the many teachers who gave up their Saturday to help in marking the course, providing a results service, filling out certificates, helping at the finish funnel, to the Red Cross and to the Ferndown Leisure Centre for allowing the use of the Sports Hall as a team base, refreshment point and presentation area.

Dorset had two individual winners: in the Minor Girls race, Amanda Bailey (Twynham) finished more than half a minute ahead of her nearest rival, Mila Gordon-Creed (Sherborne Girls). There was no official team race for this age group, but had there been one, Dorset would have won comfortably, with Sarah-Jane Trehane (Castle Court) also finishing in the top ten.

In the Junior Girls race, Natalie Real (Parkstone Grammar) was an impressive winner, though a very good performance was also posted by Leila Francis-Coleman (Hanford) in 12th place. St. Michael's Laura Dixon ran above herself to finish 19th.  The team finished third.

A solid run by Gemma Rose (Thomas Hardye) in 12th place in the Inter Girls race enabled the Dorset team to finish 4th of the seven counties.  Laura King (Budmouth) improved significantly on her run in the county championships to finish 21st while Harriet Balme (Bryanston) was Dorset's third finisher in 26th place.

With three runners in the top eleven, the Senior Girls have much to be pleased about. A very creditable third place in the team race was largely due to Laura Bale (Beaminster) who finished in fifth place, preventing a clean sweep of the top seven places by an impressive squad from Avon.  She was supported by Kelly Borthwick (Weymouth College) in 9th and Kirsten Pakes (Thomas Hardye) in 11th.

In the Minor Boys race, Luke Greenwood (Colfox) disputed the lead with his rival from Gloucestershire for most of the race but was forced to settle for second place.  Andrew Mapstone (Beaminster) finished in 6th place and the team were unofficially placed 3rd.

The Junior Race saw Craig Bravington (Winton) bravely hang on to the furious pace set by the nationally high-ranking Alex Felce from Gloucestershire.  Though ultimately forced to let him go, he finished in an excellent second place and was followed in by Dorset's second scorer, Sean Hogan (Corfe Hills).  Andrew Borthwick (Wey Valley) was Dorset's third runner home. The team finished 3rd.

In the Inter Boys race, Colin McCourt (Portchester) ran brilliantly for second place.  With Chris Hillier (Bryanston) in 10th place, the team finished 4th.  Richard Beasley ( Thomas Hardye) improved greatly on his county performance, finishing 18th and third Dorset runner home.

In terms of the team results, the best was saved for last. With seven runners in the first fifteen finishers, the team title was never in doubt, and this was without the county champion who was struck down with flu two days before the race. St. Peter's provided the first two Dorset runners: Chris Parr worked through the field to finish an excellent 6th, while one place behind, Tom Oliver began to show the kind of form of which he is capable.  Will Pearson (Corfe Hills) and Joe Lane (Poole Grammar) followed in quick succession in 9th and 10th while only 14 seconds covered Christian Clement (Bournemouth College), Tom Hayball (Colfox) and Laurie Copper (Milton Abbey) in 13th, 14th and 15 positions.

Overall, Dorset finished 3rd county of the seven participants, beaten only by the much larger Devon and Avon (both of whom are larger B category counties). Somerset, Cornwall, Gloucestershire and Wiltshire were left well behind.  This was one of the best overall performances of recent years and most of these athletes will be representing their county in the National Schools Championships in Chelmsford early next month.