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Gloucester Athletic Club storm to Birmingham Cross-Country League Division Two title

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Author: Roger Jackson, Posted: Wednesday, 12th February 2020, 09:00

Gloucester Athletic Club are Birmingham Cross-Country League Division Two champions Gloucester Athletic Club are Birmingham Cross-Country League Division Two champions

Gloucester Athletic Club’s senior men produced another dominant performance to win the final Birmingham Cross-Country League race of the season at the National Sports Centre at Lilleshall and clinch the Division Two championship for their second successive divisional title.

The City outfit knew that, barring something going very badly wrong in this match, they were assured of promotion but captain Steve Millward was not allowing any complacency to creep into his team and despite missing a couple of athletes due to injuries, it was another great effort from the whole squad as they stormed to their third victory in the four matches, beating their closest rivals Birmingham Tri and Running Team by 18 points.

James Denne has been the team’s most consistent performer this winter, having achieved two seconds and one third place going into the final race, and he again led the team home placing third on the day and second in the overall individual standings for the season.

Steve Millward saved his best run of the season to the last as he stormed through to take 7th place, while Harry Wells came home in 11th place to take third place in the overall standings and first Junior U20 Man.

Owen Parry and Jack Evans were next home. Running in the same group for most of the race, they pushed each other to their limits and placed 26th and 27th respectively.

Despite having had two hard races in the previous three weeks, Jeremy Mower showed his commitment to the club by producing another strong run to place 62nd and complete the successful ‘A’ team.

As has been a standard this campaign, there was another strong show of support from the reserves.

Glen Balmer has had an injury-hit winter, only being able to compete in one previous race this season, but he showed he is on the way back to regaining fitness by placing 68th to lead the ‘B’ team home.

Steve Haines was the next back, placing 104th, with Pete Haynes coming home in 130th place. The evergreen Dave Gresswell came home in 157th, Lloyd Andrews continued his improvement after a several-year break from the sport in 168th while the ‘B’ team was completed by club stalwart Chris O’Carroll, who came home in 202nd place in this, his sixth decade of racing in the league.

Afterwards, team captain Steve Millward said: “The division title and promotion are the result of the massive commitment put in by every one of the runners who has competed and the back-up team who have supported and officiated during the season.

“Everyone got behind the effort and we are now reaping the reward. We’re all very pleased and looking forward to competing in the top tier next season.”

Team results: ‘A’ teams – 1st Gloucester AC 138 pts; 2nd BRAT 156; 3rd Newcastle (Staffs) AC 167. ‘B’ teams – 1st Newcastle (Staffs) 370 pts; 2nd BRAT 451; 6th Gloucester AC 829.

Final League standings: 1st Gloucester AC 518 pts; 2nd BRAT 601; 3rd Newcastle (Staffs) AC 714.

Final individual standings: 1st Ian Allen (Spa Striders); 2nd James Denne (Gloucester AC); 3rd (and 1st U20) Harry Wells (Gloucester AC).

While the seniors were performing their heroics, some of the stars of the future were representing Gloucestershire Schools in the South-West Schools Cross-Country Championships at Bournemouth.

Competing in the senior girls’ race, Millie Porter went with the leaders on the fast, flat course and at the halfway stage was still in contention for a top-three finish.

However, the quick early pace took its toll as she faded to come home in 10th place and second county scorer. Another to find the flat course not to her liking was Tilly Ashley who still ran strongly in a crowded inter girls field to place 23rd.

In the junior girls’ race, Millie Newell finished the twisting parkland course in 28th place and 5th Gloucestershire scorer in a closely packed finish while Elle Griffiths, in her first representative race, was unlucky to collide with an unseen obstacle on the course but rallied to finish in 58th place.

In the senior boys’ race, Toby Scott placed 35th overall and 5th county scorer while Matt Ward, also in his first season of cross-country racing, was pleased with his result using the flat course to produce a fast first mile then easing back before finishing strongly to place 42nd and 4th county scorer.

Meanwhile, there was a strong contingent of Gloucester AC members competing in the Midland Indoors Championships at the Hi Performance Centre at Birmingham.

Joel Townley led the way with gold medals in both the U20 long jump (6.50m) and triple jump (14.33m) and there were golds also for Julia Johnson (U20 triple jump, 10.13m personal best) and their coach Jo Willoughby (senior women’s triple jump, 10.06m). Johnson and Willoughby followed up their gold medals with bronze medals in their respective long jump competitions with leaps of 4.95m and 4.72m.

New signing Piotr Rekas won the bronze medal in the senior men’s high jump with a 1.85m clearance.

Further evidence of the young talent coming through the ranks at the club came in the sprints where WU17 Ella Julin set a new 60m personal best 8.37 seconds in her heat before reducing that again in her semi-final with an 8.29 clocking.

Members of the club’s growing junior multi-events group were also in action at Birmingham. Kyle Neal set a new personal best of 2.35m in the pole vault and a season’s best 1.40m in the high jump, Emily Herron set two new personal bests in the high jump (1.30m) and triple jump (9.42m) and there was a new triple jump personal best for Phoebe Jones (9.12m) who also set a season’s best 1.30m in the high jump.

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