WESTBURY Harriers and North Somerset AC won four individual medals each in the young athletes races at the South West Cross Country Championships.
The gold standard was hit by Rosie Hamilton-James, who ran superbly to finish second overall in the senior women’s race and duly won the under 20s title.
Hamilton-James (pictured right) beat recently-crowned Tri-Counties champion Amber Gascoigne and Bristol & West AC newcomer Chelsea Creak to arguably claim one of the best results of her career to date.
When Hamilton-James last ran this event in 2020 – it was cancelled 12 months ago – she finished 28th overall and third under 20. It kick-started a good spell of form as she placed fourth in the South West Schools’ and 18th on her final appearance in the English Schools’ Cross Country Championships.
Going further back she also won a bronze in the under 17s age group in the 2019 South West Inter-Counties Championships.
But to mix it with top senior runners like new champion Ellie Wallace of North Somerset and former GB junior international Gascoigne represents a step up for Hamilton-James and a real morale booster for her.
Also starring for Westbury were Seamus Robinson and Akira Bees as they both won silver medals in the under 17 and under 15s age group event.
“Akira was very happy and said he felt fantastic during the race,” said his coach Jason Michael.
“He had a couple of below par races at Liverpool and the last Gwent so to put in his best cross country race of his career and take silver was very pleasing and he has got his confidence back up again.”
Robinson has already shown good form this winter in the British Cross Challenge and ended the year with a winning flourish as he lifted the Tri-Counties U17s title at Bath University.
So his second place behind Poole’s Ed Bird came as no surprise and hopefully Robinson will carry that form into the rest of the season and cement his emergence as one of the best young runners in the region.
There was a third Westbury silver for rookie Estelle Lowe in the under 13 girls’ race and that, too, came as no surprise. Lowe has been running exceptionally well this winter with third, fourth and fifth places in the British Cross Challenge events at Cardiff, Liverpool and Milton Keynes respectively.
Like Robinson she ended the year with a thumping win at the Tri-Counties and it was good to see her open 2022 in a positive fashion.
Senior women’s champion Ellie Wallace proudly flew the club flag for North Somerset AC and is a great role model for their young athletes.
With that inspiration Joe Finch won silver in the under 13 boys’ race while the pair of Edward Stoate and Oscar Warren claimed second and third respectively in the novice under 11s age group.
For Bristol & West AC Megan Hornung struck silver in the under 17 women’s race narrowly beaten by Cheltenham’s 2019 English Schools’ champion Kiya Dee so that represents a really good performance.
Two years ago at Yeovil Hornung placed fourth in the Under 17s race while before that she was eighth in the under 15s in 2019.