The Champions of AICES

Anson L (Year 10), Chief Contributor

The morning of the first day of Winter in 2022 was a cold and very windy one. 48 of William Clarke College’s best cross-country runners gathered at the Sydney International Equestrian Centre. Having just battled out a very mud filled cross country at HZSA only a Monday ago, many including myself were not ready to do it all again, given we were running a similar course from ten days ago. Schools, from as close to us as Hills Adventist College, to as far as St Phillips Port Stephens assembled to find the fittest and toughest runners in the East of NSW.  

At 9:45am sharp, the pre-walk of the track began, which was going to reveal its ins and outs. Some were sceptical, saying: ‘it poured down all Monday afternoon, it’s going to be way worse!’ whilst others, more optimistic, remarked ‘it’s been a week and a half, surely the track is less muddy.’ As the latter had predicted, the track had indeed dried up significantly over that week and a half, to our content. Students were happy that the slip and slide incidents of HZSA would not occur again, while parents were delighted that the ordeal of scrubbing muddy shoes clean would not present itself this time.  

Except this time, students were faced with an even bigger problem: the wind. The Antarctic blast which continues to rock the East Coast was sure to be howling as we ran, icily blowing our weakened, race-weary bodies like feathers in all kinds of directions. The bone-chilling wind sometimes felt friendly, pushing us ever closer to the finish line, while at other times it seemed to be our primary obstacle, holding us back and slowing us down. However, no matter which way it blew us, the wind was not going to stop us from doing what we came here to do. 

The 18 years boys were first off with the longest distance of all to run, a staggering 8km. Four of the William Clarke College boys finished in the top 10 at HZSA, so all eyes were eagerly anticipating a sequel to this performance. After 28 minutes, the first green HZSA shirt was the first competitor to enter the main arena, where the finishing line situated. Many hoped to see the familiar face of a William Clarke student; however, it was a Rouse Hill Anglican College runner (go HZSA I guess). 

At the 32-minute mark, the familiar face of Seth S triumphantly entered the arena, bringing the spectating William Clarke Community to ecstatic levels. Their enthusiasm boiled over as the beautiful faces of both Callum T and Hugh G entered the arena, neck and neck, to finish the final 200 metres of the race in front of their crowd. There continues to be major speculation by many that on-track communication between Callum and Hugh resulted in an agreement that Hugh would take 7th place and Callum would humbly fall to 8th. 

However, in an all-too-typical display of selfless sportsmanship, the likes of which the College community has only come to expect of the ever-flourishing Mr G, Hugh halted centimetres before the finishing line, craftily leaving Callum a moment too late to realise what had happened. Hugh had stopped for just enough time to allow Callum to take 7th place, and crossed the finish line a mere 40 milliseconds after Callum. 

Hugh had courageously and freely gifted the honour of 7th place to his unsuspecting teammate Callum. 

In a blur, it was time for the 15-Year-Old boys. Everyone with William Clarke knew that this was going to be a race to watch. Daniel C in Year 9, seeded first in his race (holding the fastest time of all competitors at HZSA) was going to be racing. “Bang!” the starting speaker sounded! In 4 kilometres time, would Daniel be in the lead? Or would he be overthrown by one of his lesser competitors? 

After only 14 minutes, the glorious face of Daniel C came out of the bushes and into the main arena. A blur of fury, he ran unchallenged in first place and sprinted to the finish line, appearing effortless and technically flawless in stride. He finished with a time of 14:43:78, beating second place by over 8 seconds, and he stepped off the course unphased, as if he had only just finished a brief warmup at training. 

Congratulations also to the following students for coming in the top 10 and qualifying for CIS: 

Ella KH – 8th in 18 Years Girls 

Matilda T – 9th in 18 Years Girls 

James TH – 10th in 17 Years Boys 

Sophie S – 2nd in 15 Years Girls 

Kaylah B – 6th in 15 Years Girls 

Michael C – 9th in 14 Years Boys 

Charlotte H – 8th in 13 Years Girls 

Jessica L – 9th in 13 Years Girls 

Darwin T – 5th in 12 Years Boys 

Charlotte SR – 3rd in 12 Years Girls 

Olivia SR – 4th in 12 Years Girls 

Overall, the AICES competition was a windy and successful day of running for William Clarke College. In total, we received a staggering 2116 points making us the Overall Champion School, as well as both Boys and Girls Champion school. Second place only received 1598 points, which truly demonstrates the prowess and ability of our incredibly gifted participating students. WE ARE simply the best at cross country, there is no equal competition. Congratulations to all who participated and made us proud on the day! 

Also, congratulations to the students who reached the CIS competition being held next Wednesday, which we can only hope will not be too windy or muddy, as well as the still to be announced team placements including the four 16 years boys who are still unsure whether their team made it to CIS. Our fingers are crossed… 

Until next year!