THERE were some good performances from athletes from Morpeth Harriers at the fourth meeting of the Start Fitness-sponsored North Eastern Harrier League, held at Cardinal Hume Catholic School, Wrekenton, Gateshead, on Saturday, writes George Patterson.
Despite a cold chilly wind, the area seemed to escape the worst of the wintry conditions that threatened to engulf the country and organisers were cheered that they were able to offer conditions that were manageable with care in places.
Pride of place among the Morpeth Harriers performances must go to their U15 Boys’ squad, who more or less cemented their place at the top of the season’s Grand Prix standings with an outstanding team victory on the day.
With leading light and North East Cross Country champion Phil Winkler out through injury, it was left to Elliot Kelly to lead the club’s charge and, despite suffering the effects of a heavy cold, he put in a tremendous performance to finish a superb individual third, and as second fastest on the day overall.
Next home was Ryan Green, who finished seventh and fifth fastest on the day.
Green was largely spurred on at the finish by the sight of his Morpeth Harriers clubmate Jared Lewis, who it has to be said gave a very polished individual performance to finish ninth, only two seconds adrift of Green.
Lewis was sixth fastest on the course.
Kelly and Green currently lie second and third in the Grand Prix standings individually.
Morpeth Harrier Jonnie Nisbet made light work of an easy victory in a sparsely-contested U17 Men’s event, where he won with 12 seconds to spare over his closest rival.
Unfortunately, club colleague Phil Caldwell suffered a recurrence of injury and was forced to pull out during the second lap.
Meanwhile, Sam Hancox bravely fought his problems to finish 13th.
Morpeth Harriers’ Senior Men continued their fight at the top of Division One by finishing third from the division on the day behind Sunderland and Gateshead.
They now lie in second place and one point behind Gateshead, with Sunderland Harriers further adrift by five points in third.
Thomas Straughan, having his first Harrier League outing, excelled in finishing in sixth place from the Slow Pack and led the Morpeth squad home.
He now finds himself promoted to the Medium Pack for the remainder of the season.
Another Morpeth Harrier who sees himself promoted is John Woods, who came home in 10th place from the Slow Pack, and the same applies to Morpeth’s third finisher Mick Thomsen, who came home in 21st place from the Slow Pack.
Just missing out on a promotion is Morpeth’s fourth finisher Stephen Bradley, who finished 33rd from the Slow Pack.
Alistair MacDonald was the club’s fifth finisher in 90th place overall from the Slow Pack and Morpeth’s scoring count was completed with Mike Hegarty coming home in 127th place from the Medium Pack.
Other Morpeth Harriers Senior Men’s performances were as follows:
Paul Waterston (154th) (Fast Pack), Les Cavill (195th) (Slow Pack), Richard Kirby (201st) (Slow Pack), and Chris Waugh (209th) (Medium Pack).
In the Senior Women’s event, Morpeth Harriers Gemma Floyd and Jane Hodgson both produced outstanding runs.
Gemma, running from the Slow Pack, battled throughout on this her first Harrier League outing to finish an excellent second.
Meanwhile, Jane pulled out all the stops to once again clock the fastest time of the day when placing fourth.
Morpeth Harriers U13 Boys maintained their second place in the grand prix standings, when finishing as second on the day
Also maintaining their second and third placings in the individual standings were Jacob Hopkins and Kieran Hedley, who finished fifth and 11th on the day respectively from the Fast Pack.
Further team support came from an excellent Slow Pack run from Samuel Williams, who finished 22nd.
Other Morpeth finishers in this event were Philip Kirby (25th, Fast Pack), Euan Jones (27th, Fast Pack) and Lewis James (46th, Slow Pack).
Hannah Sheerin and Charlotte Jewell both had good runs in the U15 Girls’ event, which saw them place second and fourth from the Slow Pack.
Excellent runs by Teegan Dryden (4th, Slow Pack), Georgia Priest (10th, Slow Pack), and Harriet Grace (19th, Slow Pack), saw Morpeth Harriers U13 Girls finish in third team place on the day behind Birtley and Elswick.
l TWO athletic events which managed to escape the Arctic conditions that prevailed throughout the country on Sunday, February 7, were the very popular Asics-sponsored Alsager 5 in Cheshire and the Blackmoor Lions Half Marathon held at Bishops Caundle, in Dorset.
At the Alsager 5, Morpeth Harrier Ben Harrison finished 39th in 27m26s and just one place and six seconds behind Morpeth 11k runner up Daniel Bradford of Sale Harriers.
Meanwhile, Harrison’s Morpeth Harrier clubmate Ashley Gibson finished eighth in the Ladies race in 30m22s.
In Dorset, Morpeth Harrier Nathan Shrubb, having his first race for some time, finished a very creditable second in 72m44s.
l NICK McCormick continued his current spell in Australia by competing in 1500m track event in Perth, where he finished third in a high-class field, clocking 3m41.54s, which was fractionally outside his season’s best.
l MORPETH Harrier Jonathan Taylor kept up his present run of excellent form, when he finished third in the Men’s 9.55k event at the Lotto Cross Cup meeting, held in Hushout, Belguim on Sunday.
Jonathan clocked 28m34s, and finished two places ahead of Stockport’s former Sunderland Harrier Patrick Martin.
l IN Elda, near Alicante in Spain, Morpeth Harrier Chris Sampson finished 13th in a talent filled Men’s 8k event, at the Campeonato De Espana De Veteranos meeting on Sunday. Sampson clocked 24m29s.
l MICHELLE Woodley and Paul Tomlinson of Morpeth Harriers competed in Sunday’s Liversedge Half Marathon, held at Roberttown, West Yorkshire.
Woodley, when finishing 165th overall in 102m33s, was sixth Over 35 Female.
Meanwhile, Tomlinson was 11th Over 55 Veteran Man, when placing 273rd overall in 112m32s.