Mixed day for Harriers at schools meeting

NORTHUMBERLAND Schools, aided by several Morpeth Harriers had a day of mixed fortunes at the 2012 English Schools Cross Country Championships, held at Merryfield Airbase, at Ilton in Somerset on Saturday, writes George Patterson.

In the aggregate scores at the end of the Championships, the Boys’ squad finished in a very respectable sixth among the lesser-populated counties, while the Girls’ managed to place seventh cumulatively.

Best performers in the Boys’ were undoubtedly their Intermediates, who finished an overall 20th, with Morpeth Harrier Elliot Kelly, making his way through very nicely to finish as their third counter in 107th place overall and as seventh from the North Eastern counties.

In doing so, he also finished 27 places ahead of his clubmate and training partner Philip Winkler, who was fourth counter, and by his own admittance was not as sharp on the day as he would have wished.

Next best Boy performers were the Juniors, who finished 21 overall and were led home by Morpeth’s Ryan Green, who had been in the top 50 in the early stages, but paid a little for his over-exuberance by slipping back to an eventual 81st.

Best Morpeth Harrier performance in this age group was undoubtedly Northumberland’s third finisher in Jarod Lewis.

Beginning very steadily, he worked his way through to finish a well-accomplished 97th and can also take some added satisfaction from the fact that he was fourth from the North East to finish.

His Morpeth Harriers clubmate Jacob Hopkins, who has come through very well after a long, hard-working season, rounded things off very nicely by coming home as fifth from Northumberland in 180th place, when running against rivals who are a year older.

Northumberland’s Senior Boys finished in 22nd place overall and, afterwards, Morpeth Harrier Jonnie Nisbet was very philosophical about his personal performance that saw him finish 68th, as second counter, and as sixth from the North East region.

Nisbet would have hoped for a top-50 placing on a personal basis.

In the Girls’ events, the best performers were the Juniors who finished 15th overall, however, no Morpeth Harrier could quite make the final squad, such is the overall strength in this age group.

Next best were the Seniors who finished 20th and Morpeth Harrier Ailsa McGregor was fourth counter in 144th place.

Clubmate Hannah Rank was seventh home for Northumberland in 209th place.

Two Morpeth Harriers were among the finishers in the Intermediate Girls’ event, where Northumberland finished 30th.

Alison Brown was third counter in 196th place overall and Beth Woolley was seventh home for the county in 281st place.

l THREE Morpeth Harriers competed in the Gateshead Indoor meeting on Thursday, March 15.

In the Senior Men’s 60m, Veteran sprinter Wayne Gedge clocked a personal best of 8.3s when finishing fourth.

Alex Nesbit finished fourth in the U15 Boys 60m in 7.9s, and Ria Fairnington clocked a new personal best of 8.6s when finishing third in the U15 Girls’ 60m.

Ria also produced a season’s best in the high jump, when she cleared 1.35m, which was 10cm short of her personal best.

l TWO long-serving Veteran Morpeth Harriers were winners of their respective categories at the Veterans’ North Eastern Athletics Association Cross Country Championships, held at Bedewell Park, Jarrow, on Saturday.

Paul Bentley, who back in the ’70s and ’80s used to coach Morpeth Harriers International representative Don Speight, and was a regular member of some of the clubs successful Senior squads during that period, won the Over 65 Men’s title, by covering the required 6k course in a very respectable 28m15s.

Walter Ryder, who is also an England international at Veteran level, travelled all the way down from his home in Westerross in Scotland, to retain his North Eastern Over 70 Men’s title in a time of 28m46s over the 6k course.