by Beren Cross:
The club's long-running dominance at the county cross-country championships continued last weekend at Louth's London Road venue; four individual and four team gold medals put the gloss on an event which offered up a number of exciting tussles between our own athletes and the county's finest talents. A period of dry weather ahead of the event ensured conditions remained relatively firm underfoot, with notoriously steep climbs and long grass proving our athletes' toughest tests.
The high point of the day certainly arose at the conclusion of the U15 Girls race, where Abbie Donnelly, Rebekah Ward and Catrina Thomas totally dominated proceedings with a one-two-three finish.
Despite steering clear of this season's Lincolnshire League events, apart from Catrina's win at RAF Cranwell, the girls looked sharp throughout the race.
The team, of course, took the overall championship with Catrina a huge 49s clear of Nene Valley Harrier Amy Gibbons in fourth.
The club's fourth runner, Laura Wass, continued her encouraging development with a
14th place finish which brought her within 20s of Louth's Bethany Whyatt and Natalie Stainton.
Each have beaten Laura by far greater margins earlier this season, but this result sets her up for a better 2012.
The club's U17 Men's team very nearly matched the performance of the girls, but Newark's promising youngster Linton Taylor upset the party.
Joshua Asbrey retained the title he won at Riseholme College last year, with a
17s victory over another of Mark Baddeley's athletes, Kyle Nicholson.
Taylor laboured in almost a minute later, but unfortunately held 14s to spare over Joe Wilkinson, who has come an incredibly long way since finishing eighth in the
U15 Boys contest 12 months ago. Baddeley's monopoly over the age
group extended to sixth-placed track specialist Harry Baxter. Harry's strength over this distance will surely show when he comes to tackle the club's 400m and 800m
U17 records this summer.
An intriguing race between former member Aaron Scott and current multiple club record holder Matt Bowser set up the Senior Men's contest nicely. Scott eventually broke away from Matt shortly after the three kilometre
mark and he continued to extend his lead to an impressive 33s by the close.
Matt was unable to relax too much in his isolated position with the ever-improving Richard Brown running strongly in third-place.
Richard eventually followed Matt in 23s adrift. Josh Stone made sure of the team prize with a sixth-place finish, which should all but guarantee his selection for the Inter-Counties in March.
Club stalwart Paul Samways improved on last year's county championship
performance by finishing 11th, though he will be disappointed to have been just
8ss from a top-ten spot. A little adrift of the Senior field, Darren Dickinson performed a little under-par, losing out to a couple of veteran athletes he has beaten earlier this season.
The talented Sleaford Strider, Jake Scott, blitzed the Under-13 Boys race, but he alone couldn't deny our young team the championship.
Liam Brotherton competed well with several other athletes for the individual silver and came out on
top with a performance which lead to team gold too. Adam Bush and Archie Richardson, ninth and tenth respectively, crucially beat Louth's third runner to take the team title with a tie on points meaning Archie's two-place advantage over Jan Miewald clinched the contest.
Natalie Farrow will have taken great satisfaction in beating Nene Valley's Philippa Taylor to the Senior Women's title in a close race which was only decided by an
8s gap at the finish line. Natalie was 49s behind Taylor at this event last year, so has shown great improvement over this last 12 months.
Georgia Ball, on vacation from St Mary's University College, kept with the front two for much of the
7450m race, but ultimately faded to finish third.
The invariably small U20 Men's championship was won for the fourth year running by a Wellington
athlete. Adam Baker took the spoils with a resounding 75s victory over Nene Valley's Lloyd Kempson.
Adam was, as ever, impeccable in his judgement of the race distance and, despite falling behind early on to Kempson, maintained his work-rate to come through for the title with
ease. Ryan Stevenson also climbed the podium, with a bronze medal a reward for his endeavours.
A heartbreaking 4s was the difference between team gold and silver for the club's
U13 Girls squad. Tied on 15 points with Newark, Clea Butcher's 4s loss to Newark's Molly Ripley relinquished the overall lead.
The Newark team was led by the excellent Olivia Matthias, who looked supreme at the head of a field which included our own young star Laura Wilkinson.
Laura was previously undefeated on Lincolnshire ground this season but found Matthias' pace too strong, as she made do with silver.
Lucy Thornton's fourth place finish made her the second counter in the team.
Sophie Melligan also competed well in the mid-field, with a 17th place finish.
Training partners Declan Dickinson and Daniel Skinner brought their long-running Lincolnshire rivalry to an exciting close in the
U15 Boys race. With team and individual honours a little out of their reach, they focussed on one another in a game of cat and mouse which eventually amounted to a minor victory for Declan.
Sixth overall, the diminutive talent beat Daniel by 4s which will have tasted all the sweeter after three consecutive losses to his friend throughout the Lincolnshire League this winter.
Another in-club tussle was taking place further down the field between Dion Harrison and Daniel Crow.
The latter lost out, but the 6s deficit was far less than the 35s loss he suffered to Dion at RAF Cranwell in November.
Dion was tenth with Daniel 11th and then further back, Joe Shuttleworth showed a little rustiness over the grass in his first outing of the season in a
13th place finish.
Neil Coney was a little closer to Louth's Nick Marsh than he would have liked in the Veteran Men's race.
Neil will have been happy to go home with a deserved bronze medal after a consistent season at the head of Lincolnshire League
matches but, with far wider gaps in the past, he may have been looking over his shoulder a little at the experienced Marsh towards the end.
Peter Wass followed up his 15th place at the third Lincolnshire League match with a consistent 12th at Louth, again bettered marginally by near rival Kev Harrison (Mablethorpe).
Wellington stalwart Geoff Hall came home in 20th to secure the team's silver medals, but his victory over Grantham's Mark Tucker may mean more to him having entered this race level at 2-2 with Tucker after the four Lincolnshire League races.
Without enough finishers for a team prize, the club could still celebrate a silver medal in the
U20 Women's race. Sheridan McWilliam was not quite able to emulate her county champion father Ronnie, but she still took second place at a canter, with over five minutes between her and third-place.
Hester Talbot could not quite hang on to Steph Beavis (Nene Valley) nor Emma Penniston (Boston & District) towards the end, but should still have secured her place on the county team for the Inter-Counties with
Bo Haywood flew the Wellington flag on her own in the U17 Women's championship, but still came away with a bronze medal after a difficult race with Nene Valley Harrier Grace Mullins.
Bo, I am sure, will look forward to welcoming a couple of the U15 Girls into the age category next year, when I am sure we may have a gold-winning team.
And last, but by no means least, our own Pat Kimpton took to the London Road course with typical determination and came home seventh, with a huge two minutes and 21 seconds advantage over Sleaford Strider Dawn Webb.