Harriers help North East onto the medal podium

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MATT Nicholson and Jane Mooney of Morpeth Harriers both claimed medals in North East successes at Saturday’s UK Inter Counties Cross Country Championships, writes George Patterson.

Excellent conditions at Cofton Park in Birmingham saw the region’s Senior Men comfortably take the Gold team medals, with Scotland West, Kent and Yorkshire scrapping closely for the minor placings.

The North East were led home in brilliant style by Ryan McLeod, who finished agonisingly fourth.

Nicholson produced an excellent run to come home in 40th place and was the region’s fifth of six scoring counters, therefore earning himself a place on the winners’ podium along with his delighted colleagues.

Fellow Morpeth Harrier Peter Newton, who had been one place ahead of Nicholson in the Northern Championships, missed out on a team medal as seventh home in 80th place.

Jane Mooney played her part well in a Senior Women’s North East Silver Medal triumph when finishing as fourth counter in an excellent 50th place.

The region was dealt a huge blow on the eve of the championships with leading light Rosie Smith of Durham being forced out with injury, which severely dented their chances of retaining the title that they won at the same venue 12 months ago.

European representative Sonia Samuels led the squad home, with an excellent run to finish eighth.

The North East also won Gold team medals in the Under 17 Men’s event.

Although he did not quite get into the scoring counters, Jonny Nisbet of Morpeth Harriers can feel well pleased with his efforts when finishing 72nd in a total finishing field of 285.

As can Hannah Rank and Ailsa McGregor of Morpeth, who finished 178th and 196th respectively out of a total of 260 finishers in the Under 17 Women’s event.

They were fifth and sixth home for the region.

l Saturday’s 5k Park Runs held in Newcastle and Edinburgh saw wins achieved by Morpeth Harriers Ian Hudspith and Marcus Cram respectively.

Hudspith clocked 15m02s and Cram clocked a new course personal best of 16m20s, having placed second the previous week.

Another Morpeth Harrier in action in the Newcastle event was Richard Driscoll who, when finishing 49th, also achieved a new personal best on the course of 20m20s.

l A team of Morpeth Harriers travelled to Lancaster on Sunday and were not only successful individually, but also managed to finish as third Men’s team to Preston Harriers and Wesham Road Runners in the annual Trimpell 20-Mile Road Race.

First home was Paul Waterston, who finished fourth overall in 116m12s and was first in the Over 45 Veteran Men’s section.

Two places behind him was club colleague Phil Walker, who clocked 117m13s and was second Over 40 Veteran Man.

Gordon Dixon was first Over 50 Veteran man when finishing 15th overall in 122m49s and Mike Winter finished 44th in 131m56s.

Sue Smith and Jane Blackett completed the Morpeth Harriers contingent.

l Only 19 seconds denied Morpeth Harrier Gary Jones an outright victory in Sunday’s Haweswater Half Marathon in Cumbria. The event was won by Keswick’s Phil Winskill. Jones’s finishing time was 74m56s.

l Northumberland Schools have now finalised their list of athletes for their squads for the forthcoming English National Schools Cross Country Championships, which are to be held at Wollaton Park, Nottingham, on Saturday, March 19.

Several Morpeth Harriers are included in the six travelling squads and they are as follows – Junior Boys: Philip Winkler. Intermediate Boys: Jonnie Nisbet and Philip Caldwell. Senior Boys: James Woolett. Junior Girls: Alison Brown and Jessica Morrison. Senior Girls: Ailsa McGregor, Hannah Rank and Jessica Caldwell.