ATHLETICS: Wiltshire wonders

This Is Wiltshire: U15s first and second finishers Will Stockley (left) and Cameron Perkins U15s first and second finishers Will Stockley (left) and Cameron Perkins

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 that I 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 outstanding Finn Birnie.

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.

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.

There were no medals for Kirsty and Luke Roberts but the pair are unlikely to ever forget their debuts in the event – the muddiest competition in the history of the championships.

“That was really tough and the hills were horrible,” said 14-year-old Kirsty, who with her brother is a student at Malmesbury School.

“But I think I ran okay and I am very pleased to come 19th. It was a really good experience and I enjoyed it. I love running no matter what the weather.”

Kirsty, who lives in Crudwell, finished in the top 20 in a 50-strong field, making her the third county runner.

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