Several Morpeth Harriers were in competitive action at the annual Northumberland Schools Cross Country Championships, held at Temple Park, South Shields on Tuesday 21st January 2020.
Relatively ideal conditions were faced by all, with the odd muddy patch here and there to be encountered, but as a relief, and by way of change, not a trace of frost or ice in sight, and only a whisper of a slight cool breeze in existence, as a total of just under 480 runners faced the Starter over the eight programmed events.
With the leading sixteen from each event being selected to take part in the annual Northern Schools Inter Counties event, which is being held in Cumbria in February, as a result of this, no fewer than twenty four of the clubs athletes see themselves with places, in a competition, where apart from those in the Minor age group, may have an opportunity to progress to the annual English Schools competition, being held at Sefton Park in Liverpool on Saturday 14th March.
For some, perhaps a tall order, but there are also some with very high hopes, particularly those who managed to win themselves individual medals on the day, of which Morpeth Harriers were responsible for no less than ten, three being of Gold colour, five being Silver, and two being Bronze.
Ross Charlton (East Northumberland), was always in control of matters in the Senior Boys event, and eventually stole away to win by two seconds from Newcastle’s Charlie McMillan, who led his team to victory.
It was an excellent scalp however for Charlton, having finished fourth to the Gateshead Harrier in December’s North Eastern Championships at Alnwick.
Only a few paces behind McMillan in third place, and taking the Bronze medal, was Charlton’s Morpeth club colleague Daniel Dixon, also competing for East Northumberland.
In fourth place, but also a good minute adrift of Dixon, was fellow Morpeth Harrier Daniel Melling, who was second home for the winning Newcastle squad led by McMillan.
Running for North Northumberland was Oliver Telfer, who trains with Morpeth Harriers on a second claim basis, being linked with Alnwick Harriers as a first claim athlete.
Telfer finished eighth.
Joe Dixon (East), of Morpeth Harriers, comfortably won the Junior Boys event, ahead of club colleague Ryan Davies (East), who took the Silver medal.
The pair led East Northumberland to a fine team victory, one of only two on the day, with further excellent supporting runs coming from fellow Morpeth Harriers in Bertie Marr (5th), Liam Roche (6th), William De Vere Owen (7th), and Harry Brown (30th).
East Northumberland B team finished as seventh team, with George Tweedie (35th), and Alfie Laskey (50th) figuring in the six counters.
The other team victory for East Northumberland came in the Intermediate Boys event, who were well led home by Morpeth Harrier Dylan Gooding, who finished an excellent second to Tynedale’s Charlie Daley.
Gooding finished seven seconds adrift of Daley to take a Silver medal.
In December, Daley had finished fifth, and Gooding had finished ninth in the North Eastern Counties Championships, with around twenty-seven seconds parting them.
Further good team support for East Northumberland and Gooding, came from fellow Morpeth Harriers Euan Duffin (4th), Dylan Davies (5th), Ben Walker (12th), and Sam Tate (14th).
Another good Morpeth Harrier performer in this event was Matthew Walton, who unfortunately looks to have narrowly lost out on a place on the bus to Cumbria for the Inter Counties by finishing seventeenth.
Morpeth’s third individual Gold Medal winner on the day was Kate Kennedy, who won the Junior Girls event by a margin of eight seconds.
She led East Northumberland to seventh team place.
Other prominent Morpeth performers in this event were Zara Naughton (Tynedale) (10th),
Caitlin Flanagan (Newcastle) (22nd), who is transferring from North Shields, and Sophia Cunningham (East) (23rd).
Moving back to the Boys events, where in the Minors, Oliver Calvert (Newcastle) just lost out for a Gold Medal by three seconds to North Tyneside’s Zak Brannon.
Zak, who runs for North Shields Poly is the son of prominent North East runner Tommy Brannon.
Not far behind Calvert in third place, and taking the Bronze Medal, was his Morpeth Harriers club colleague Oliver Tomlinson, who led East Northumberland to fifth team place.
There was a hint of irony, and most definitely a touch of sadness attached to Morpeth Harrier Holly Peck’s performance in the Senior Girls race, where there were no complete teams to be found in the field of thirteen competitors.
Peck is clearly down on her form at present; however, she bravely battled her way around the course to finish second to Newcastle’s Chloe Wellings, who won by a margin of forty-six seconds.
It effectively ended the East Northumberland star performers reign as a County Champion.
Peck has reigned supreme through all the age groups since 2015, winning five successive titles, one Minor Girls, two Junior Girls, and two Intermediate Girls.
Unfortunately, a sixth successive title, and a new one, eluded her, a factor she gracefully accepted, as a very much in form Wellings strode to victory.
Peck’s unique record stands however, and cannot be taken away, and she should be proud of those achievements, and whilst sharing her current disappointment, her club equally share her past glories.
Hopefully Peck will move on to greater heights, she certainly has the
outstanding ability and potential for achievement.
Other excellent performances by athletes from Morpeth Harriers in the Senior Girls events came from Ella Duffield (North Northumberland) (6th), and Kirsty Duffin (East) (7th).
The Intermediate Girls event was won by Gateshead Harrier Ines Curran, running for Newcastle, who won by eighteen seconds from North Northumberland athlete Millie Breeze, who has a second claim association with Morpeth Harriers for training, being a first claim runner competitively with Alnwick Harriers, who took Silver Medal placing.
Fifth place went to Tynedale’s Abi Leiper of Morpeth Harriers, who led her squad home to fourth team place.
Other prominent Morpeth Harriers finishers in this event were Sophie Coaker (16th), who was second counter for a fifth place East Northumberland squad, Kate Gaffing (20th), who was third counter, and Olivia Carruthers (21st), who was sixth home for a second placed Newcastle squad.
Newcastle Schools were the outstanding area, who took the Gill Mooney Trophy for their efforts.
Tynedale finished third, East Northumberland placed fourth, and North Northumberland were given the proverbial “Wooden Spoon,” for finishing fifth.
North Tyneside finished second.
Successful Athletes can now look forward to the Schools Inter Counties competition,
which is being held at Lowther Castle Estate, near Penrith, on Saturday 8th February.