CALLUM Bampton ran a perfect tactical race to claim an impressive victory at the Wiltshire Schools’ Cross Country Championships., writes KEVIN FAHEY.

In only his second race of the new year, the 16-year-old Ridgeway School student from Chiseldon lifted gold in the inter boys’ race at Grittleton House School with the event having been rearranged after bad weather forced its postponement two weeks ago.

Bampton, who was representing Swindon schools, had to work hard for his victory as he was up against Melksham Oak’s Will Stockley, who recently won the south west title.

“I had not beaten Will this season so he has been on my list as one to get so it felt great to win the race,” said Bampton.

“To some extent we worked together early on and gradually we dropped the rest of the field until it was down to just the two of us.

“I knew it would come down to a sprint finish which was what happened and it was a nice way to win it.”

Stockley admitted he had been waiting for the sprint too, but crucially Bampton struck first and opened a two-second gap which he maintained to the finish for his second county title in two years.

“It was a hard run because Will is a really good runner,” added Bampton, who is also a member of Swindon Harriers.

“Now I’ll be looking to win a medal at the South West Schools’ Championships in Bournemouth next weekend (February 8) and then after that I will sit down with my coach (Simon Burley) and discuss the rest of the season.”

The other medallist from the Swindon schools’ squad was 17-year-old New College student Ciaran Cooper, who won a silver in the senior boys’ race.

Cooper did as well as could be expected considering he was up against the formidable England international Alex Carter from Bradford on Avon, who cruised to victory by over two minutes.

“Ciaran is a very good athlete in his own right and that was a good race for him,” said coach Bryan Clinton.

“He has been training a lot better recently and is becoming a much more mature athlete, and don’t forget that Alex Carter is a year older so Ciaran will still be running in this age group next year.”

Running in a very strong junior boys’ race, Lydiard Park Academy youngster Tom Miller finished fourth while in the junior girls’ event Nova Hreod’s Chloe Crippin also just missed out on making the podium.

Ridgeway’s Nathan Hughes was sixth in the junior boys’ race so will be in the county squad for the south west event this weekend and there were also top 10 finishes for Lydiard Park’s Eve McCormack (inter girls), Commonweal’s Ross Kennedy (junior boys) and Rajendraj Limbu (minor boys).

Representing North Wiltshire, in-form Malmesbury School teenager Zoe Wassell claimed an impressive victory in the inter girls’ race. She finished 19 seconds clear of Sheldon’s Gemma Sheppard with St Mary’s Yasmin Watling third.

Remarkably, North Wilts packed their scoring six in the top seven, with only Jade Day of West Wilts denying them a perfect team score of 21.