ATHLETICS: It's sheer Will power

This Is Wiltshire: U15s first and second finishers Will Stockley (left) and Cameron Perkins celebrate their result at the South West Championships U15s first and second finishers Will Stockley (left) and Cameron Perkins celebrate their result at the South West Championships

A WILTSHIRE one-two and a clean sweep of the U15 boys’ team titles was the highlight of another powerful county showing in the South West Cross Country Championships, writes Kevin Fahey.

Training partners Will Stockley and Cameron Perkins fought out a great duel in tough conditions at the new course in the grounds of the National Trust property at Killerton House, just north of Exeter, on Sunday.

Neither gave any quarter over the testing hills and cloying mud but 14-year-old Stockley, who lives in Trowbridge, had the edge as the finish line came into sight.

“Three of us broke clear and then it was just Cameron and myself but I knew I had a better sprint so I just waited until the last 50 metres,” said Melksham Oak pupil Stockley.

“I am really pleased to win and get my first South West title as I have been third twice. But that was a really hard course, probably one of the toughest I have ever run.”

Perkins, who celebrated his 15th birthday the previous day, was not unhappy with his first regional medal – a huge improvement on 18th in the same race 12 months ago.

“I just tried to stick with Will but I just didn’t have it in my legs at the end,” said Perkins, who is a student at Hardenhuish School, Chippenham.

“I would say it was probably my best ever result.”

The pair had great support with Hilperton’s Howorth twins Robert and John sixth and seventh respectively to give both Wiltshire and Team Bath crushing victories in the county and club team competitions.

John O’Gaunt School student Hayden Bailey was Wiltshire’s other medal winner in the U13 boys’ race.

The 13-year-old was running the event for the first time, finishing runner-up to Cornwall’s Finn Birnie.

“I was pleased with my run,” said Bailey, who lives in Westbury.

The Wiltshire women were out in force with a large contingent from Avon Valley Runners joined by Chippenham Harriers.

Leading county runner was Chippenham’s Cordula Hurcum in 29th.

Elsewhere, Rory Howorth finished ninth in the U13 boys’ race and John O’Gaunt School’s Caitlin Wosika was 11th in the U15 girls’ age group.

l Alex Carter had intended to run in the championships – until he was made an offer he couldn’t refuse.

“On Wednesday I was invited to run for Wales in the British Cross Challenge in Antrim,” said Carter.

“It was the first team I had been asked to run for Wales so I was really pleased and it was a great trip.”

Carter, who lives in Winsley and attends St Laurence School, has Wales qualification through his mother, and he recently decided to switch allegiance from England.

“My granddad is also proudly Welsh and kept saying to me I should go for Wales so I decided it was time to take advantage of that,” added Carter.

“I was given a really warm welcome by everyone so that was nice.”

But Carter wasn’t pleased with his seventh place as he struggled to transfer the form he has been enjoying on the roads to the country.

“I am still confident that it will come good later in the season,” said Carter.

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