MAX Davis, of Avon Valley Runners, had no hesitation in delivering a verdict on the bronze medal that he won in the senior boys’ race at the South West Schools’ Cross Country Championships, writes KEVIN FAHEY.

“That is definitely my best ever cross country performance,” said the 16-year-old Davis.

“I have won a few big track races but nothing like that on cross country before. I am really pleased.”

Davis has every right to feel very satisfied with his run as he stepped onto the podium for the first time.

Only last season’s inter boys’ champion Finn Birnie of Cornwall and defending senior champion Hugh Sadler from Avon finished ahead of him in a strong field which only served to underline the quality of his run.

“Beforehand I was hoping for a top-10 finish and maybe if it went really well scrape into the top five,” added the modest Davis.

The result, on top of his performances on the track last summer when he won the South West Schools’ 3000m title, mark Davis out as one of the brightest young talents in the county and according to his AVR coach Rich Ayling is fully deserved.

“I have never met a kid who works harder than Max,” said Ayling.

“It is not just in his training either as he reads up about the sport and is so keen to learn. This is a big breakthrough for him and I think he could become a really good runner.

“He is improving all the time.”

Davis, who was running in an Avon vest as he goes to school in Bath, had to work hard to secure the bronze unleashing a sprint finish to finally shake off Cornwall’s Sam Goodchild.

“I was hoping I had enough left at the end to sprint clear but I wasn’t sure,” admitted Davis.

St Mary’s Calne student Harriet Hilman was Wiltshire’s only individual medallist in the minor girls’ age group, which is notoriously hard to predict.

But the county champion is a great competitor as she proved again with a terrific effort and with solid backing from Rebecca Heaps (seventh), Narayani Costa-Jafratel (13th), Aggie Robb (21st), Hannah Browning (27th) and Emily Fowles (28th) led Wiltshire to the team bronze medals on countback after they finished locked on 98 points with Gloucestershire.

Like Davis, Corsham School’s Jade Littlechild was running in the senior age group race for the first time so her fifth place was highly satisfactory.

“I am really pleased with that,” said Littlechild.

“I came fourth as a top year inter girl in 2017 so it was a bit of a shock to come fifth a year later. I knew there was a strong field so I was thinking that a top-20 position would be good.

“But I just got out hard as I was first in the Wiltshire pen. I probably went off too fast as that second lap felt as tough as it could ever be especially in the conditions of very sticky mud. It was hard but well worth it.”

Third in the county championships, Hardenhuish School rookie Asher Jones had a terrific run to lead the Wiltshire minor boys’ squad to the silver medals in the team competition just nine points adrift of Devon.

Another Hardenhuish student to impress was Megan Wright.

Third in the county championships she beat both of the girls ahead of her that day to finish 10th overall and lead the Wiltshire team home. It also represented a massive improvement on her debut last year when placing 65th in the junior girls’ race.

Older brother James finished 26th in the senior boys’ race.

Trowbridge runner Caitlin Wosika came away with a gold in the team event.

The former John of Gaunt School student has now switched to the sixth form at KES in Bath and she finished 14th overall and third Avon scorer.

South West Schools’ Cross Country Championships, Stover School, Devon

Senior boys: 1 Finn Birnie (C ) 22:19; 2 Hugh Sadler (A) 22:29; 3 Max Davis (A) 23:17; 4 Sam Goodchild (C ) 23:22; 5 Callum Choules (D) 22:34; 6 Joe Crutchley (G) 23:38.

Teams: 1 Cornwall 56; 2 Avon 79; 3 Devon 107.

6 WILTSHIRE: 23 Dan Davis; 25 Niall Thorne; 26 James Wright; 31 Robert Howorth; 34 Otto Copping; 52 Mark Poynting; 59 Rohan Archer;63 Josh Evans; 65 Dan Patel.

Inter boys: 1 Oli Smart (D) 21:11; 2 Sam Gentry (A) 21:35; 3 Flynn Jennings (D) 21:40; 4 Jacob Macalone (C ) 21:59; 5 Matt Howard (S) 21:53; 6 Johnny Livingstone (D) 21:57.

Teams: 1 Devon 71; 2 Somerset 81; 3 Avon 107.

5 WILTSHIRE: 15 Max Sockett; 18 Bertie Petite; 20 Ollie Campbell; 26 Oscar Palmer; 39 Will Morris; 44 Patrick Mochan; 46 Ellery Cole; 56 Harry Webb; 58 Dan Poynting;

Junior boys: 1 Tom Heal (S) 13:40; 2 Joe Ponter (S) 14:00; 3 Sam Mills (D) 14:10; 4 Artie Savage-Swaine (A) 14:21; 5 Robert Jones (W) 14:26; 6 Lukas Bailey (W) 14:28.

Teams: 1 Devon 69; 2 Somerset 90; 3 Avon 114.

4 WILTSHIRE: 20 Harry Woods; 25 Max Hopcraft; 34 Ollie Phillips; 44 Max Gunning; 45 Jack Pawson; 50 Rian Clarke; 57 Harry Cunningham; 61 Charles Hall.

Minor boys: 1 Will Rabjohns (Do) 10:35; 2 Alex Adams (G) 11:22; 3 Dylan Stoneman (A) 11:32; 4 Fletcher Hart (G) 11:35; 5 William Pengelly (D) 11:38; 6 Jasper Kolowska (Do) 11:40.

Teams: 1 Devon 94; 2 Wiltshire 103 (8 Asher Jones; 9 William Tavener; 12 Joe Andrews; 17 Harvey Swain; 25 Ryan Griffiths; 32 Otto Jenner; 36 Lewis Seaward; 39 Henri Contineau; 51 Tom Campbell-Barnard; 53 Ben Lewis); 3 Gloucestershire 139.

Senior girls: 1 Hannah Hobbs (A) 17:10; 2 Grace Copeland (Do) 17:19; 3 Imogen Wood (C ) 17:47; 4 Katie Hughes (C ) 18:07; 5 Jade Littlechild (W) 18:12; 6 Imogen Moroney (A) 18:15.

Teams: 1 Avon 105; 2 Dorset 111; 3 Devon 123.

5 WILTSHIRE: 18 Lucy Fitzpatrick; 21 Caroline Brenchley; 23 Catriona Edington; 27 Alice Sullivan; 44 Alice Uloth; 47 Becky Service; 49 Tasha Mundell.

Inter girls: 1 Amelia Wills (S) 15:04; 2 Ellie Hobbs (A) 15:28; 3 Chloe Olford (D) 15:43; 4 Millie Porter (G) 15:49; 5 Lydia Attwood (G) 15:53; 6 Natasha Farrington (D) 15:56.

Teams: 1 Devon 80; 2 Gloucestershire 94; 3 Somerset 142.

5 WILTSHIRE: 10 Megan Wright; 15 Isobel Horsfield; 21 Jessica Davies; 28 Susannah Hirst; 34 Katie Robinson; 38 Fenella Challinor; 39 Lara Smith-Osbourne; 41 Amy Richards; 46 Maddie George; 57 Eleanor Bourne.

Junior girls: 1 Emily Shaw (Do) 12:24; 2 Kiya Dee (G) 12:30; 3 Emelia Castagna (Do) 12:52; 4 Lucy Chalmers (S) 12:54; 5 Maisy Luke (C ) 12:56; 6 Dalis Jones (A) 13:06.

Teams: 1 Dorset 67; 2 Gloucestershire 109; 3 Avon 117.

4 WILTSHIRE:12 Olivia Roderick; 14 Orli Cranston; 19 Isabella Wolsey; 22 Lilly Jones; 31 Jadey Griscti; 35 Freya Buglass; 36 Imogen Tanner; 37 Tilda Norman; 40 Molly Jones; 47 Anna Payne; 62 Josephine Hallet.

Minor girls: 1 Scarlet Livingstone (D) 8:42; 2 Harriet Hilman (W) 9:04; 3 Keira Devereux (A) 9:11; 4 Iona Farquarhson (D) 9:21; 5 Iris Courtney (Do) 9:23; 6 Seren Jones (G) 9:29.

Teams: 1 Devon 77; 2 Avon 91; 3= Wiltshire 98 & Gloucestershire 98.

WILTSHIRE: 7 Rebecca Heaps; 13 Narayani Costa-Jafratel; 21 Aggie Robb; 27 Hannah Browning; 28 Emily Fowles; 38 April Cruttenden; 52 Katie New; 55 Chloe Ashton; 60 Kaitlyn Heard.