THE North East region certainly did itself proud with its performances over the 10 events on offer at the UK Inter Counties Cross Country Championships, held at Cofton Park, Birmingham on Saturday, writes George Patterson.
North East Counties AA chairman Bill McGuirk spoke very proudly of the squads’ efforts on Sunday morning and clearly highlighted the region’s Senior Men as being the outright stars of the show, as they saved the best until last by winning team gold medals in their 12k team event.
While New Marske’s Ricky Stevenson could be very pleased with his individual silver, when finishing a close second to recent National winner Keith Gerrard of Newham and Essex Beagles, representing Lancashire, he could be equally pleased that his efforts saw him lead his North East colleagues to team gold, with a great deal of worthy support coming from the other five counters, that included no less than four members from Morpeth Harriers.
Jonathan Taylor, who had certainly looked a possible candidate for an individual medal in the early exchanges, could count himself to be very unlucky to closely lose out in the closing stages to Belgrave’s Phil Wicks, representing Surrey.
However, the excellent performances of Morpeth’s Lewis Timmins (11th), Peter Newton (28th) and Matthew Nicholson (31st), added to Leeds City’s Carl Smith (48th), sealed the well-earned team medals.
Credit also goes to Gateshead’s Ryan Stephenson (85th) and Durham City’s Michael Grimes (101st) for their non-scoring efforts. Another Morpeth Harrier who gave a very creditable performance on the day was Ben Harrison, who, in finishing 190th, closed Cumbria’s team score to give them 15th team place.
The region’s U17 Men just missed out on team medals, finishing fourth in their 6k event, with Jonny Nisbet coming home in 35th place as fourth counter.
A much-weakened Senior Women’s squad performed well to finish as sixth team in their 8k event, with a very exhausted Jane Hodgson of Morpeth Harriers being their third counter in 43rd place.
Led by Gateshead’s Markhim Lonsdale, who ran well to take the individual gold medal, the North East’s U3 Boys squad finished in a very creditable seventh team place in their 3k event, with Morpeth Harrier Jacob Hopkins coming home as their third counter in 54th place.
Although outside the scoring four, his clubmate Kieron Hedley can feel well pleased with his placing of 151st and as seventh from the region.
Morpeth’s Philip Winkler and Elliot Kelly, were second and fourth counters for the North East’s U15 Boys’ squad, who finished in 10th team place in their 4.5k event, by finishing in 45th and 85th places respectively.
In the U15 Girls’ 4k event, where the North East finished seventh, Alison Brown of Morpeth was sixth home in 152nd place.
Morpeth’s only other competitor was Ailsa McGregor, who was fourth counter for the region’s U20 Women’s squad, who finished ninth in their 6k event.
l SEVERAL Morpeth Harriers have been selected to line up for Northumberland Schools at the English Schools Cross Country Championships, being held at Ilton Airbase, in Somerset this Saturday, March 17. Ryan Green, Jacob Hopkins, and Jarod Lewis are included in the Junior Boys.
In the Intermediate Boys, Philip Winkler and Elliot Kelly are penned in to run.
Jonnie Nisbet and Philip Caldwell are included in the Senior Boys’ line-up. Alison Brown is listed for the Intermediate Girls and the Senior Girls are expected to line up with Ailsa McGregor and Hannah Rank.
l MORPETH Harriers Athlete of the Month for February 2012 has gone to U15 athlete Elliot Kelly.
Elliot, who joined Morpeth Harriers from North Shields Poly during last summer, has come on leaps and bounds under the watchful eye of his coach Mike Bateman and has now become a firmly established member of the clubs U15 Boys’ squad. He has been particularly outstanding during February, especially in his recovery from injuries sustained when knocked off his bike in a road accident.
An excellent Harrier League performance at Wrekenton at the beginning of the month, saw him go to the top of the U15 Boys Grand Prix standings. This was followed up by a superb run at the National Cross Country Championships in London, where he finished 60th and was second home from the region.
l MORPETH Harriers Mongolian Marathoner Serod Batochir certainly began his preparations for the London Olympics in earnest, when he produced a personal best of 29m36s, to finish fourth in Sunday’s Trafford 10k, held in Partington, near Manchester. Batochir has now taken up residency in the North East, as he prepares for his biggest Marathon challenge in London, and hopes to take in the forthcoming North of England Relays, the Brighton Marathon, plus a few other events that will see him don his clubs colours, hopefully with success. Another Morpeth Harrier to finish in the Trafford 10k was Michael Dawson, who clocked 31m44s, when placing 30th of a total of 668 finishers.
l LONDON-based Morpeth Harrier Andrew Lawrence finished fifth in Sunday’s Finchley 20 mile Road Race, in 116m 40s.
l MORPETH Harrier Angus Wood showed his versatility when he competed in Sunday’s Silverstone Half Marathon, in Northamptonshire. Wood, normally a prominent field eventer, clocked 2hr04m26s, when finishing 3,036th in a well subscribed field.