Women seal fantastic start to year

MORPETH Harriers’ Senior Women secured their second team victory of 2011 on Sunday at the 27th Durham Cathedral Relays on the Racecourse venue, writes George Patterson.

After Carolyn Dickie had them handily settled in eighth place with her first leg clocking of 11m04s, Morag Stead took them up to second place on leg two, with an excellent second-fastest clocking of the day of 10m20s.

This also proved to be the fastest Veteran Women’s time, only bettered by Gateshead’s Stacey Smith, who had led everyone home on first leg with an outstanding 9m43s.

It was then down to third-leg runner Jane Mooney to chase down the leaders, who were still Gateshead with Elswick in third place.

The North Eastern Counties Cross Country Bronze Medallist was certainly not one to give up on victory and eventually she took over the lead as she clocked what was to be the day’s fourth fastest time of 10m35s and came home commanding a superb 56 second margin into the bargain.

Another good individual Morpeth Harriers woman performer was Maxine Czarneka.

Sandwiched between the youthful talents of Hannah Rank (12m03s) and Jessica Caldwell (12m37s), she energised a non-scoring B team performance that eventually saw them finish seventh, with an individual 10m50s.

Maxine becomes fully eligible to compete for Morpeth from February 1, following her transfer from Chester-le-Street, and she will undoubtedly be a welcome addition to what is already proving to be a very formidable and forceful Senior Women’s squad.

Also worthy of mention are the encouraging debuts at this level of Marie Drosdowicz and Jane Briggs, who competed for an incomplete Morpeth Harriers Veteran Women’s squad. They were well up the field before being unable to finish with a third runner.

The club’s Senior Men just lost out in a very competitive relay to New Marske by a margin of six seconds, with Gateshead further back in third place.

After Matt Nicholson’s first leg clocking of 9m00s saw them in third place, Ross Floyd just lost out in the race for supremacy to Durham’s Shaun Moralee on the second leg with his time of 9m04s.

Despite Jonny Taylor’s excellent fastest of the day clocking of 8m29s on third leg, he just could not catch up to New Marske’s Russell Best before the finish line.

Morpeth Harriers’ B team also produced a fine performance by finishing ninth.

An excellent run by David Swinburne (9m14s) saw him finish seventh on first leg. Gary Jones (9m52s) and Mike Hegarty (10m14s) gave good support.

Although Morpeth Harriers’ Veteran Men lost out for overall victory to an excellent Sunderland Harriers squad by 62 seconds, they were the first Over 35 squad.

Paul Waterston clocked 10m04s to have them in sixth place on Leg One.

On second leg, Neil Wilkinson clocked the third fastest Veteran Men’s time of the day of 9m29s to take them into third place and Phil Walker’s 10m07s on third leg got them into second place ahead of North Shields Poly.

When finishing 18th, Morpeth Harriers’ Veteran Men’s B team were the first Over 55 squad, courtesy of Richard Sill (12m20s), Bob Sewell (11m56s), and Archie Jenkins (11m02s).

Morpeth Harriers’ C team – courtesy of Gavin Bayne (11m52s), Peter Scaife (11m54s) and Tony Ward (14m01s) – finished in 27th place.

l Several Morpeth Harriers competed at the Northumberland Schools Cross Country Championships, held at Temple Park, South Shields, on Tuesday, January 18.

Best performances came from Jonny Nisbet, Alison Brown and Sam Fisher.

Representing East Northumberland, Jonny eventually stole away from Newcastle’s Jack Reed to capture the Intermediate Boys’ title by a margin of seven seconds.

Philip Caldwell also produced an excellent effort to finish in sixth place, and as second from East Northumberland. Tenth home for East Northumberland, in 31st place overall, was Sam Hancox.

Alison Brown finished an excellent third in the Junior Girls’ event and led home North Northumberland, with further support coming from fellow Morpeth Harriers Sarah Wilkes and Jessica Morrison, who placed 9th and 21st as third and fifth home respectively as counters.

Sam Fisher produced what is probably his best ever cross country run when he finished a superb third in the Minor Boys event, and was first home for East Northumberland.

Fellow Morpeth Harriers Jacob Hopkins, Euan Jones, Matthew McGuinness and Patrick Booth finished in 33rd, 37th, 53rd, and 66th places.

Hannah Rank, Ailsa McGregor and Catriona MacDonald all competed in the Senior Girls’ event.

Hannah was first home for East Northumberland in fifth place and one place behind her came Ailsa, who was fourth for Newcastle Schools. Catriona finished 12th and was third home for East Northumberland.

Morpeth Harriers Ryan Green, Joe Elder and Andrew Allan all competed in the Junior Boys event for East Northumberland, coming home in 18th, 38th and 54th places as second, fifth and 11th counters.

l Morpeth Harrier Laura Weightman led Leeds Met University home by winning the Senior Women’s event at their Varsity Cross Country Championships against Leeds University on Saturday.

Laura won with a minute to spare over her closest rival Emma Clayton of Bingley Harriers.