With athletes from clubs like Aldershot Farnham & District, Southampton, Winchester & District, Basingstoke and City of Portsmouth, there was no shortage of talent on show at the 2023 Hampshire Cross-Country Championships which was held at Fairthorne Manor. The county’s finest from the various different age groups were set to do battle with County Championship medals at stake. There were even runners from Jersey and Guernsey who had come over in search of regional glory.
What they wouldn’t have been banking on was a Bournemouth AC runner showing up and trying to steal a piece of the pie. Connor Grocott did exactly that though when he lined up for the Under 13 Boys race. And as the Hampshire club members were about to find out, Connor was in fact, a pretty decent runner.
The Under 13 Boys battled it out over a 3,300 metre course and it turned out there was no one who could match up to Connor. He whipped round the course in 12 minutes 2 seconds which was enough to just edge him ahead of Archie Burniston of Basingstoke & Mid Hants who came in in 12:03.
James Stafford-Bell of Guernsey will be ringing all his mates to tell them he came 3rd in 12:08, with Zane Simpson of Jersey Sparton clocking in in 4th place in 12:11.
Connor’s brother Scott was also competing and he came 42nd in the Under 15 Boys race recording a time of 17:40 over a 3,900 metre distance. That race was won by Jon Pepin of Southampton in 13:18, with Archie Pearson of Isle of Wight taking 2nd in 13:28 and Ruben Price sealing a valuable 3rd place in a time of 13:48.
In the Senior Men’s race it was Tom Syckelmoore who became county champion, competing the 11,800m course in 35:22. Sam Costley of Southampton had to settle for 2nd place on this occasion with his time of 35:40.
Benjamin Wills of Bracknell came 3rd in 35:44 with William Bryan of Southampton taking 4th in 35:54. Matt Sharp of Ryde Harriers was on it and he claimed 5th in 35:44. Southampton man Rikki James was 6th in 36:31.
It was a Winchester & District one-two in the Senior Women’s race with Helen Hall and India Lee taking the top positions. They finished in 28:26 and 29:13 respectively over an 8,150m course. Natalie Whitty of Guernsey was 3rd in 29:17 and Amelia Wills took 4th in 29:30. City of Portsmouth woman Emma Jolley was 9th and 1st in the W40 category.
It was Connor’s day though and it was probably the biggest win of his racing catalogue so far. He had every reason to be proud of his momentous victory. He didn’t stop there though. A couple of weeks later he was back in action at the Dorset Schools’ Cross Country Championships where he continued his winning form, getting round in 11:38 in the Minor Boys race.
That put him six seconds ahead of Joe Whelan who was 2nd in 11:44, with Riley Whelan taking 3rd in 11:50. Connor’s Bournemouth AC teammate Marni Purnell finished 4th out of 113 runners in a time of 11:55.
Quite a few other athletes with Bournemouth AC connections impressed at the Dorset Schools’ Championships which was held at Kings Park. Finley Hurst Atkins almost won the Primary Boys race but was edged out by one second, finishing in 9:23 to Charlie Harrison’s 9:22.
Isaac May performed well to come in 4th in the Junior Boys race and Harry Butcher finished 12th that same race. Hi BAC teammate Oliver Canavan come in a couple of seconds later to take 13th. Oliver Thomson also featured, finishing 19th.out of 125 competitors.
Oscar Newbery is most definitely one to watch and he won the Inter Boys race which was over a 5.4km distance in 18:17. Oscar runs for Winchester & District now and was also competing in the Hampshire County Championships where he came 7th in the Under 17 race. In that one he clocked a time of 19:08 for the 5,900m course.
Bournemouth AC star Oliver Hill was also in action in the Inter Boys race at the Dorset Schools’ Championships and he finished 9th in 20:07 despite getting a stitch during the race.
Another BAC member showing huge potential is Seb Crowe and he finished 4th in the Senior Boys race. The lightening quick Poole AC lad William Rabjohns won that race by a minute and 13 seconds. He’s a sub 2 minute 800m runner and has run under 3:55 for 1500m. He also did Poole parkrun in 15:06 on Christmas Eve.
Isla May was victorious in the Primary Girls race, finishing 23 seconds ahead of her nearest rival. Isla has bags of potential and is certainly going to be one to watch as she progresses and blossoms.
Isabel Cherrett came very close in the Junior Girls race, just being outdone by Polly Evans with only two seconds separating them. Daisy Abernethy was 3rd with another Bournemouth AC star Seni Purnell finishing 4th in 12:25.
A few other BAC girls featured in that race, with Constance King securing 9th place, Esmee Hurst Atkins coming in 13th and Amy Betts finishing 20th out of 113 participants.
Former Bournemouth AC girl Erin Wells showed she’s still in terrific form, winning the Inter Girls race with a margin of 18 seconds over Nancy Taylor who goes to the same school. Talbot Heath had three girls in the top four, with Lexie Brown finishing 4th.
Emily Coltman was also competing in that race, finishing 17th out of 61 runners and recording a time of 16:54 for the 3.84km. Her Bournemouth AC teammates Lara McKenna and Matilede Blagden were there as well, with Lara finished 25th in 17:43 and Matilde coming 30th in a time of 17:56.
In the Senior Girls race, Neve East came in 17th place, getting round the same 3.84km course in 18:45. It was great to see so many young up and coming Bournemouth AC members performing well on home soil.
Connor Grocott then went on to represent Dorset at the South West Schools’ Cross Country where he finished 3rd in the Minor Boys race in Bristol. He completed the 2.44km course in 7 minutes 11 seconds.
Isaac May competed for Dorset in the Junior Boys race as well, finishing 34th out of 66 high standard youngsters. Isabel Cherrett also donned the green Dorset vest, finishing 9th out of 67 and first Dorset runner in the Junior Girls race.
Emily Coltman crossed the line in 52nd place in the Intermediate Girls race, with Erin Wells coming in as top Dorset runner and taking 4th place overall.
Oscar Newbery finished 5th in the Intermediate Boys race, recording a time of 17:27 for the 5.46km route. There were 64 runners in that race.
William Rabjohns claimed victory in the Senior Boys race, completing the 6.95km race in a time of 21:18 which put him five seconds ahead of his Dorset teammate Mark Ruby who was 2nd in 21:23.