Quality field offers great competition at Exeter
THE Brooks Westward League reached the half-way point with the third fixture held at a muddy Exeter on Sunday combined with the Devon County Cross Country Championships which added extra clubs and athletes, providing quality competition for the Cornish athletes.
Newquay & Par held their own but were slightly down in the younger ages where some were competing at Bolton for their schools (see later).
The under 11's started the day with a tough uphill climb to the top of the long linear course, on common land adjacent to the Exeter Arena.
The club had four girls, all doing well in the local Restormel League at Par.
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Chloe Pettitt led the charge in a race combined with the boys but on the long drop down to the finish was overtaken by Maddie Babb with Jessica Spry and Nikki Stacey close behind to finish 11, 12, 15 and 16th respectively.
The first main League and Championship race saw one of the largest and best Under 17 Men's group lead the combined race with the Women over two laps.
This was the first race to face the muddiest part of the course which degenerated into a quagmire as the races progressed. Kieran Rowe was the only club athlete in this category, beating other good County athletes for his 10th placing.
Behind him, the Senior Women's team were firstly headed by Colette Clements until Sharon Coyne made up ground half way through the race. Sharon finally finished 13th and more importantly, 1st in her W45 age group.
Charlotte Cayton-Smith held on strongly for 27th and finished 2nd in the under 17 Women's age group, followed by Steph Martin at 29th.
Colette was 35th, Lesley Richardson 51st, Sarah Hill 60th and Sharon Chapman 67th.
The veterans team of Sharon Coyne, Steph Martin and Lesley Richardson, maintained their second overall placing in the League with the same position on the day.
The only winning team came in the Under 13 Girls, who maintained their overall lead. This was despite Rebecca Couchman, one of the leading pair at the age group, having to pull out through illness just before the race.
It was left to Elowen Penfold to lead the team home with a strong performance, gradually pulling back places to finish fourth. Rachel Howe (13th) and Quinta Carlyon (14th) ensured the team held on to their overall League placing.
The Under 13 Boys missed the League's leading athlete, Finn Birnie but Sam Bray was looking back at his best as he floated over the muddy sections, chasing the best Devon athletes in front of him to finish fifth.
The other two lads, could still compete in the Under 11 race but are of such talent, they have both made the County team in the under 13 age group.
Tom Randles and Charlie Parker improved throughout the race to finish sixth and 10th for a second place behind Tavistock and maintained their overall lead in the League standings.
With the majority of the Under 15 Girls team at Bolton, only two made the race and it will be down to the rest to complete at least two of the final fixtures to keep up their challenge on the leading Plymouth team after slipping to fourth.
Lily England had her best race of the winter, having moved up to this age group in the summer.
She kept the Devon girls well within her sights as the leaders started to stretch the field, overtaking one in the last 600m as they chased to the line, finishing 4th.
Lieacha Cundy also showed her recent improvement with 16th.
Darren Varker led home the Senior Men's team after overtaking Jonny Colaco on his debut run for the club.
Darren finished third in the M40 category and 38th overall.
Steve Babb pulled up to 41st and U20 Kyle Chapman got in the top 50 for the first time at 47th having run alongside Jonny for most of the race, he finished 54th.
Nigel Doyle was 58th, Lee Burford 68th, Graham Hodgson 73rd, Paul Wright 105th and Kevin Burnett 118th.
Darren, Steve, Nigel and Graham brought the veterans team home at third and kept their overall second place alive in the tables.
Three Cornish school teams made it through to the National Finals of the School Cup at Bolton.
For Tretherras School, Newquay, this was the fifth consecutive year they have had a girls team represent them in the finals, having won the Junior Girls two years ago.
Truro School & Penryn also had teams travel up & it was from Truro that the leading U13 Cornish and Newquay & Par athlete, Finn Birnie recorded the highest position, finishing 19th for the Junior Boys.
Annie Trotter came close to that in the Intermediate age group, finishing 21st on what was described as a testing hilly course over playing fields and rising through some woodland which was the muddiest section on the course.
Annie led the Tretherras team to 14th, with good placings from other club athletes representing the school from Abby Cayton-Smith at 51st, Lowenna Hawkey 71st and Maia Garner 82nd. Finn's Truro team were 19th.
The club and county cross country activities resume in the new year at Bicton College, which hosts the South West Club and County Cross Country Championships on January 5 with entries closing on December 11.
Some of the younger athletes will be in action this week with the Junior Schools League competitions at Par and Newquay.