Brilliant City of Portsmouth runner Lachlan Wellington secured a silver medal from the South of England Cross-Country Championships for the second year in succession
For many watching on in Brighton the under-17 men served up the race of the championships with several national champions doing battle.
Wellington had been edged out in the closest of sprint finishes by his friend Zak Mahamed, from Southampton, at Parliament Hill in London last year.
This time over a tough 6k course on Saturday the Great Britain international, from Fareham, was denied gold by powerful Cambridge talent Thomas Keen who won in 19.40 with Wellington given a time of 19.41 although it was even closer than that to those watching on.
Mahamed finished third (19.50) with the Isle of Wight’s Henry McLuckie just two seconds back in fourth (19.52) and City of Portsmouth athlete Jacob O’Hara running superbly as he has been all winter so far to take eighth place out of 169 athletes (20.23).
Wellington’s coach Vince Stamp felt it was a case of history repeating itself in some ways.
He said: ‘It was like déjà vu. Last year Lachlan was beaten on the line by Zak at Parliament Hill in London.
‘This year he beat Zak quite convincingly by nine seconds but it was Thomas Keen who got him on the line after a late surge to close the gap on the sweeping downhill section to the finish.
‘It was a quality race, the strategy was for Lachlan to take it on because he’s fast and strong but he’s not an out and out kicker. Thomas is a big lad, he has got power and track speed with a good kick finish.
‘Lachie had opened up a gap but Thomas had the momentum down the hill going into the finish.’
City secured team silver behind Aldershot, Farnham & District.
Steven Cross was the third scorer for the club in 50th place (22.09) and Ollie Purser completed the team in 55th position (22.14).
It’s always vital to have depth in the squad and City had it in abundance with Callum Crook 62nd in 22.22, Adam Kimber 94th, Tommy Wroe 119th, Josh Goldfinch 129th and newcomer Harrison Lee 154th.
A superb run from Ellie Farrow helped lead City under-17 women’s team to a silver medal in Brighton.
The talented runner and triathlete finished a brilliant fifth place among 115 of the south’s best runners.
Great form from Olivia Wiseman (16th), Katie Simister (51st) and Mia Billins (57th) saw City finish second team with a powerful squad performance.
Coach and team boss Vince Stamp was very impressed with how the whole group performed in Brighton.
He said: ‘Ellie ran very well, it was a fantastic run as a bottom year. She is a class athlete.
‘Olivia Wiseman is the same and she had another good run. She wasn’t happy to finish in 16th position which shows the kind of athlete she is. She wanted to be nearer the front which shows ambition and drive.
‘Katie Simister had a great run and Mia is running very well. For both of them to get a major championship team medal is great.’
The team always needs strength in depth and Bo Sansom (68th), Eleanor Purdue (74th) and Penelope Batty (80th) all provided it.
City under-15 girls were not at full strength but still finished 14th team out of 24 clubs to get four scorers in.
Nicole Ainsworth (19th out of 211 runners) is on her way back to her best and ran a smart race while Holly Wilkinson (31th) showed she’s a talent to watch.
Isabelle Brydon (88th) and Natalya Smith (164) completed the team.
Also in good form were Poppy Edwards (176th), Aaliyah Arkell (188th), Jemima Batty (190th) and Phoebe Carlile (200th).
The under-13 girls finished 12th team out of 25 and were led by Daisy Wilkinson who shone (30th out of 222).
Next was Olivia East (67th) then Emily Dunkley (89th) and Hattie Locke (100th).
Sophie Newsom (102nd), Jessica Smith (166th) and Poppy Penniall (208th) completed the City squad.
City were strong in the under-13 boys’ race as well and Eddy Purser was the first club athlete home in 57th out of 260 runners with a time of 11.11.
Cameron Walker-Powell was 76th in 11.20, Benjamin Gibbard 81st in 11.22 and Sam Colbourne 113th in 11.43 as the team were 11th out of 31 clubs who closed out. Tim Czura was 165th in 12.10 and Liam Nicholson was 234th in 13.05.
City didn’t have a full team for the under-15 boys’ race but had good solid individual showings while in the under-20 men’s race Toby Roe battled well to finish 50th (30.58).
Conditions in Brighton were tough for the senior athletes.
James Teuten was first to finish for the senior men in 207th out of 740 runners while Emma Jolley was the leading lady in 55th position out of 351.
City men were 33rd team and the women finished 22nd.
Team manager Vince Stamp revealed it was a gruelling battle as the weather worsened throughout the day.
He said: ‘Just before the senior men’s race the heavens really opened.
‘They had to deal with nine miles of mud, hills, wind and rain. All the athletes deserve praise for finishing that.
‘Our senior women’s team had a really good performance and they were all vets as well.
‘Overall it was a good solid day for the club.’
n Maise Grice got a team silver medal with Aldershot, Farnham & District in the under-20 women’s race.
The talent, from Fareham, finished in 12th place.