TRAINING partners Harry Cunningham, Dan Grant and Harry Woods completed a clean sweep in the junior boys’ race at the Swindon Schools Cross Country Championships, writes KEVIN FAHEY.

Ridgeway School’s Cunningham took control from the gun to dominate the race held at Nova Hreod Academy on Saturday, but there was a terrific battle for the podium places behind him with Grant of Lydiard Park Academy grabbed second and Woods, also of Ridgeway, third.

“I said to Harry (Cunningham) before the race to just go for it because it was only a short course and if you went off too slow and made a mistake there would no time to correct it,” said coach Kevin Buttle.

“Harry had made this race one of his targets and has been training really well so it came as no surprise to me that he won.

“He has a nice effortless style and ran a great race.”

As well as the top three all being coached by Buttle they are also members of Swindon Harriers, who had a strong presence not just in this race but the entire meeting which attracted a terrific turnout of 500 youngsters.

“Actually five of the top six in the junior boys race are members of the Harriers,” added Buttle.

LPA’s Patrick Mochan is also in Buttle’s group and he not only won the inter boys’ title at his first attempt but also beat his senior rivals who ran in the same race due to their small number.

“Patrick is a very strong runner with a great engine and he went for it from the start as well,” said Buttle.

“Considering he only joined us after the Wiltshire Championships in January this year he has become an integral member of the group.”

In the junior girls’ race Lavinia Ray Lydiard Park Academy improved from third twelve months ago to claim a memorable victory.

Ray and training partner Beth Davidse, of Ridgeway School, who are both coached by John Dill at the Harriers, were quickly to the fore as they claimed a one-two with anther Ridgeway runner, Ayla Tonkin, third.

“We have a really strong junior girls’ group at the moment and we also had Kelly Marie Marsh and Amilia Skittrall finish fourth and fifth,” said Dill.

“Even though she is only 14 Lavina has been at the club since a young age and work hard to maximise her potential. Beth has also made huge progress over the last three months having overcome a series of niggling injuries and is coming on really well.”

There was also further success for Dill’s Harriers’ group in the minor girls’ age group with Kingsdown’s Katie New racing to victory.

Abbey Park student Megan Poole represented Wiltshire at the English Schools’ Championships last winter and while her main focus is hockey these days she is still naturally talented enough to win the inter girls’ title.

For the second successive year Sophia Bonnetti of Ridgeway had to settle for second while defending champion Dara Kelly of LPA was third.

Organiser Janine Mason paid tribute to the staff and students from Nova Hreod, who were on site early setting up for the competition with students from all over Swindon arriving just before 8am

“It was great to see many enthusiastic staff, parents and children on what was a very cold morning and all the students were exceptionally focused and determined,” said Mrs Mason.


Swindon Schools Cross Country Championships, Nova Hreod

Inter boys: 1 Patrick Mochan (LPA); 2 Luke Peterson (AP); 3 Charlie Cinder Sage (R ); 4 Cian Weare (C ); 5 Will Palmer (R ); 6= Josh Davies & Dan Phillips (C ); 8 Joseph Knibb (SJ).

Junior boys: 1 Harry Cunningham (R ); 2 Dan Grant (LPA); 3 Harry Woods (R ); 4 Jack Gunning (C ); 5 James Rankin-Oreta (R ); 6 Rian Clarke (H); 7 Dan Gallagher (H); 8 Aidan Anidow (H).

Teams: 1 Ridgeway 50; 2 Highworth 91; 3 Commonweal 117.

Minor boys: 1 Jack C (K); 2 Ratt B (K); 3 Felix Buttcar (LPA); 4 Harry E (K); 5 James Styles (N); 6 Kane Masterman (N); 7 Tommy Halliwell (LPA); 8 Luke Avenell (N).

Teams: 1 Kingsdown 60; 2 Nova 86; 3 Ridgeway 117.

Inter girls: 1 Megan Poole (AP); 2 Sophia Bonnetti (R ); 3 Dara Kelly (LPA); 4 Sarah King (N); 5 Georgina Robbins (LPA); 6 Emilie Bradbury (LPA); 7 Amy Baker (N); 8 Megan Watkins (C ).

Junior girls: 1 Lavinia Rai (LPA); 2 Beth Davidse (R ); 3 Ayla Tonkin (R ); 4 Kelly Marie Marsh (C ); 5 Amilia Skittrall (H); 6 Josie Ryder (C ); 7 Caitlin Gulliver (H); 8 Evi Banwell Moore (C ).

Teams: 1 Commonweal 77; 2 Highworth 88; 3 Ridgeway 110.

Minor girls:1 Katie New (K); 2 Luiza Ratku (LPA); 3 Lila Hart (C ); 4 Zofia Pisarek (H); 5 Maddison Worrell (SJ); 6 Indie-Mae Worrell (SJ); 7 Ellie Bell (LPA); 8 Ruby Hewitt (R ).

Teams: 1 LPA 88; 2 Ridgeway 99; 3 Commonweal 172.

KEY: AP=Abbey Park; C=Commonweal; H=Highworth; K=Kingsdown; LPA=Lydiard Park Academy; N=Nova; R=Ridgeway; SJ=St Josephs.