Dave Taylor writes about the Under 13 Girls Gwent League season.
As the Gwent League season started to develop, it was clear that the relatively small squad of Girls stood an outside chance of Medals.
The first round showed that with both Emily Diamond and Sophie Bridge, combining with Nicki Collin, Jess Budd, Rachel Pitman and Lucy Taylor from last year`s team it was going to be an interesting season. There was no indication from the Bridgend race what a roller coaster winter is was going to be.
With the first race, Lucy proved to be the stronger of the Girls and led the team home to third place, with the team closing in 27th place out of 80 starters.
With the confidence of her success in the first round and the uncertainty of others on the New course at Cardiff, Lucy led for more than half of this race. Only to be out sprinted in the closing metres to finish a creditable 8th place. The team finished 1st on the day with Emily 12th, Nicki 17th, Sophie 18th and Jess 46th closing the team.
The third round at Bath was to prove to be the best race of the series for the Girls where overall the team was promoted (briefly) to Second spot. Lucy again started full of confidence and went off with the leading group, only to tire in the final stages. This gave Emily (last years South West schools champion) the chance to bring the team home matching Lucy`s 8th place at Cardiff. On this occasion Lucy finished 12th, Nicki 13th, Sophie 17th, Rachel 45th and Jess 46th closing the team.
Disaster struck at Blaise Castle as the team was hit with the news that Emily had broken a bone in her foot and was unable to compete, Jess was playing in a tennis tournament and Rachel had raced earlier in the day.
As anyone who has competed in Blaise will know, it is a hard unforgiving course where it hard to find a rhythm. It was inevitable that things were going to be tough for the girls as they were conscious that every place was precious. All three girls went off hard and all found the pressure just too much. Lucy again led the team home in 15th, Nicki 21st and Sophie suffering from stitch in 41st. The team was relegated to 4th place overall just 9 points behind Arch rivals Westbury.
The last round at Carmarthen again showed that the team was strong, but not quite strong enough as the Four girls competing (including the recovered Emily) battled their way round the course of deep mud and strong winds in the valiant attempt to regain the Third spot. Unfortunately Westbury fielded their strongest team and the gap between third and fourth was maintained.
It is hard for all concerned with the girls` team, both the Girls, Coaches and parents alike were all caught up in the excitement and were all pulling together for the cause. It was felt that they really did deserve to get something out of the season.
I am sure that next year, with five of the six Girls moving up to the U15`s where they will join both Zoe Davies and Eve Lockett the team will not finish up empty handed!
Gwent League website: www.gwent-league.org.uk