South-West Regional Combined Events Championships 2008
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In the South West Schools Combined Events Championships held at the Yeovil track, Dorset came away from the weekend’s athletics with team results of a first, two thirds, and a fourth out of the seven counties. On an individual level there were 4 athletes who gained selection for the Nationals at Birmingham in September, along with the team of four Intermediate Girls. This compares well with the Sept 2007 meeting at Exeter where two teams and one other competitor represented the county, and we brought back two team silvers and an individual gold.
Although the Junior Boys traditionally find the going very tough at the South West level this did not deter Anthony Fitch of Queen Elizabeth’s , Wimborne from demonstrating a superb level of all-round competence in his five events on Day One, and narrowly missing out on top spot. With some solid training under his belt over the next ten weeks he could aim for the top ten in the country. His 2528 points helped Dorset to a third place of 6478 points, the best three athletes from each county scoring out of the four entered.
The Intermediate Boys had their work cut out to chase a strong squad from Avon, and can be pleased with their 3rd placing, only1200 points behind. With three out of the four athletes staying in the same age group next year they should be looking forward to an even better result, and should eventually be able to find success at Senior level, where unfortunately we had no representation this year.
The Junior Girls Pentathlon, where all five events are completed on Day Two, saw Dorset reduced to three competitors, so all of them had to score for the team. After some superb Long Jumping from them in the fourth event we had shot up to first place, albeit very close to the three counties previously in front of us. The 800 metres is not every pentathlete’s favourite event so fourth team place and 6736 points had to be accepted at the end. The high point however, was the presence of Gaby Rowsell, Poole High, with 2830 points, and Katie James, Sturminster Newton , with 2575 points, on the podium in Gold and Bronze positions, and their subsequent selection for the Nationals.
Dorset again had just three girls in the Intermediate event, and they relished the challenge of taking on the best in the South West. Although Daryanne Ryan of All Saints, Weymouth, was down on her winning 3997 total from the Millfield match against Somerset, she still provided strong leadership for the team, especially in the nail-biting 800m . Some good performances from her on Day Two, and from Jess Oliver, Talbot Heath, Poole, supported by Lizzy Gourlay, Parkstone G.S. ensured that the team had a points cushion on Cornwall going into the final discipline. The Cornish have always been recognised as good distance runners, but our girls knew the leeway they had available on each opponent, and ran intelligently to clinch the victory. With Abby Sandford, Corfe Hills to join them in Birmingham, they could well emulate the Senior 2007 squad.
Ellie Burn of Thomas Hardy School, Dorchester, now in Year 13, has competed at the South West level since Year 8, and gained a team silver at last year’s Nationals. This year she was on her own, and showed plenty of determination to qualify again, with 3456 points and third place. With exams over, and more time to train, she will be looking to improve all her performances by September and captain Dorset to another successful weekend.