Third time lucky for schools’ contest

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THEY say in life that patience is very much a virtue, and that could certainly be said for organisers of the annual Northumberland Schools Cross Country Championships, which finally took place at the third time of asking on Tuesday, January 29, at Temple Park Leisure Centre in South Shields, writes George Patterson.

The Championships had originally been set for Tuesday, January 15, however, heavy snowfall had forced their postponement.

Then after a second date was set, a week later, that also fell foul to the weather, with organisers left to look at a third date.

This all meant that the Northern Schools Inter Counties, between Northumberland, Durham, Cleveland, and Cumbria, which was set to take place this weekend in Guisborough, would have to be put back, and has now been set for this coming Saturday.

The prime target of for most of course, is representation at the English Schools Championships, set to be held in Catton Hall Park, Derbyshire, next month, and the respective teams will be finalised after the Guisborough meeting.

With most traces of snow now having disappeared from Temple Park, the rescheduled championships went ahead in relatively mild conditions, with only a mere smattering of rain affecting the later run events in the eight-race programme.

Before events got underway, all athletes were informed that it would be the first 16 from the Junior, Intermediate and Senior age groups of both genders who would automatically qualify for the Inter Counties, plus the first 12 in each of two minor age group events.

Added to this any other athletes who were handed letters could be considered as non-travelling reserves, unless called up as replacements beforehand.

With this fully understood action got underway, and athletes from Morpeth Harriers were noticeably well to the fore in most of the events.

Most outstanding were Phillip Winkler (North Northumberland), Ryan Green (East Northumberland), Joe Dowd (East Northumberland), and Kieran Hedley (North Northumberland), who all managed top-three placings in their respective events.

Winkler unfortunately just lost out for individual victory to Tynedale’s James Cripwell, who runs for Gateshead Harriers, in a closely-fought battle.

Not far behind them in third place was Winkler’s Morpeth Harrier colleague Ryan Green, who certainly fared a lot better than he had done three days previously at the North of England Championships.

Even unluckier was Joe Dowd, who just missed out on victory to Newcastle’s J Ritchie by three seconds in the Minor Boys event.

Kieran Hedley continued where he had left off at Saturday’s North of England Championships, where he had finished an excellent seventh, by finishing third in the Junior Boys event, and only lost out on victory by a few seconds.

Other than those already mentioned, there were also excellent top-10 performances achieved by Philip Caldwell (fourth) (Senior Boys) (East Northumberland), Lizzie Rank (fourth) (Junior Girls) East Northumberland), Stephanie Patten (seventh) (Junior Girls) (East Northumberland), Charlotte Jewell (fifth) (Intermediate Girls) (East Northumberland), Alex Cunningham (fifth) (Minor Boys) (East Northumberland), Jacob Hopkins (sixth) (Junior Boys) (East Northumberland), Elliot Kelly (eighth) (Intermediate Boys) (North Tyneside), and Alison Brown (10th) (Intermediate Girls) (North Northumberland).

Alison unfortunately ended up struggling with calf-muscle problems following the North of England Championships, which severely restricted her performance; however it is hoped that she will still make the Inter Counties after gaining qualification.

The following Morpeth Harriers also gained qualification for the Schools Inter Counties following their efforts:

Philip Kirby (11th) (Junior Boys) (East Northumberland), Euan Jones (12th) (Junior Boys) (East Northumberland), Amber Cormack (11th) (Intermediate Girls) (East Northumberland), Beth Woolley (12th) (Intermediate Girls) (East Northumberland),Hannah Sheerin (13th) (Intermediate Girls) (East Northumberland), and Sean O’Hara (16th) (Junior Boys) (East Northumberland).

Other performances by athletes from Morpeth Harriers were: Cameron Dick (17th) (Minor Boys) (East Northumberland), Tom Hizzett (24th) (Minor Boys) (East Northumberland), Matthew Ingledew (53rd) (Minor Boys) (East Northumberland), Robbie Elder (63rd) (Minor Boys) (East Northumberland), Sam Williams (27th) (Junior Boys) (East Northumberland), Josh Burton (31st) (Junior Boys) (East Northumberland), Jarod Lewis (35th) (Intermediate Boys) (North Northumberland), Joe Elder (35th) (Intermediate Boys) (East Northumberland), Kate Seymour (14th) (Minor Girls) (East Northumberland), Ailsa Jones (17th) (Minor Girls) (East Northumberland), Harriet Priest (19th) (Minor Girls) (East Northumberland), Bianca Strey (53rd) (Minor Girls) (East Northumberland), Florence Thomsen (30th) (Junior Girls) (Newcastle), Lauren Eadington (52nd) (Junior Girls) (East Northumberland), Carrie Collins (58th) (Junior Girls) (East Northumberland), Natasha Fleming (62nd) (Junior Girls) (East Northumberland), Louise Brett (21st) (Intermediate Girls) (East Northumberland), and Kirsty Lang (39th) (Intermediate Girls) (East Northumberland).

Unfortunately due to other important school commitments, Morpeth Harrier Jonnie Nisbet was unable to compete in the Senior Boys event at Temple Park.

Therefore, on the basis of his already proven abilities, and current form, the Northumberland selectors have granted him a bye, in order for him to be able to run at the Schools Inter Counties Cross Country, and possibly qualify to run for the county at the English Schools Cross Country in March.

On the basis that including Nisbet, Morpeth Harriers have 19 of their athletes competing for the county at Guisborough, there is evidence that the club may be providing a fair nucleus who will go on to qualify for Derbyshire.

FOLLOWING lengthy discussions, 12 athletes from Morpeth Harriers have found favour with the North Eastern Cross Country selectors, by winning much coveted places in the regions teams that will be competing in what is expected to be a hard fought UKA Inter Counties Championships, which are scheduled to be held at Cofton Park, in Birmingham, on Saturday, March 9.

The club has athletes in eight of the 10 squads on offer, with only the Junior Women and U13 Girls teams not containing a Morpeth Harriers runner.

Biggest representation from the club is in a very strong Senior Mens squad, where no fewer than four from the club will toe the start line.

Lewis Timmins, who led the club home to Bronze team medals at last week’s North of England Championships in Knowsley, is first named in the four, and is accompanied by European Silver Team medallist Jonny Taylor, along with Richard Morrell and Matt Nicholson, who were also team medallists in Knowsley.

Despite missing out on both the North Eastern Championships and the Northern Championships, Jonny Nisbet has been named in the Junior Mens squad.

Phillip Winkler, who was fifth in December’s North Eastern Championships, is included in the U17 Mens squad.

North Eastern U15 Boys Silver medallist Ryan Green makes the team, along with Kieran Hedley the U13 Boys Bronze medallist, who was an excellent seventh in Knowsley, further enhancing his inclusion.

Two Morpeth Harriers are included in the Senior Womens squad.

Despite missing both the North Eastern Championships and the Northern Championships, Ashley Gibson has made the starting line up, along with Emma Holt (formerly Pearson), who ran well in both events.

Alison Brown is included in the U17 Womens squad, and Charlotte Jewell will be having her first taste of representative duty in the U15 Girls event, following some impressive performances in both the North Eastern where she finished 10th and the Northern Championships where she finished 45th and fourth from the region.

Other Morpeth Harriers also feature amongst a yet unnamed list of reserves, who will be called upon if there are any withdrawals, and will be contacted at a later date should they gain call up.

TEESSIDE University student Richard Morrell of Morpeth Harriers certainly continued his excellent run of Cross Country form, when he placed a superb eighth in a classy Mens 9.8k long race at the British Universities Championships, held at Bodington Hall Playing Fields at Leeds University Campus on Saturday.

Morrell produced a time of 33m54s, which was just outside a medal placing.

NEWS of athletics activities in warmer climes tells us that Nick McCormick of Morpeth Harriers had his first competitive outing of his warm weather training stint in Australia.

The Olympic 5,000metres entrant finished sixth in an open 1500m at Sydney Olympic Park on Saturday, in a time of 3m44.77s.

He was one of a total of 15 finishers, and the event was won by Ireland’s Paul Robinson, in a time of 3m42.54s.

McCormick’s stay in Australia is self funded, and is expected to last into March, and his club are still expectant of his return for the spring relays.

MORPETH Harriers Gwenda and Les Cavill, took in the Worcester Park Run on Saturday, when in the area visiting relatives.

Gwenda was first lady home when placing 14th overall in 22m06s for the 5k course.

Husband Les finished two places behind in 22m18s, and was 15th male finisher.

TWO Morpeth Harriers made lengthy journeys to take part in two separate prestigious Road Races on Sunday.

Michael Dawson made the trip to Staffordshire to take part in the annual Brooks Alsager 5 Road Race, and finished 27th in a large field, in a time of 25m44s.

Ben Harrison made the journey from his home in Kirkby Lonsdale in Cumbria to take part in the Dewsbury 10k, where he finished 45th in a time of 35m29s.