The 60th English Schools’ Cross Country Championships, sponsored by New Balance, took place at Sefton Park in Liverpool on Saturday 14th March 2020, with hundreds of the best young athletes from all over the country competing for their counties. The event is the culmination of several local and regional selection races held over the Autumn and Winter, and athletes who make it to these championships are clearly the best in England.
Held on a dry and bright afternoon over a rolling but inevitably muddy course that suited faster athletes, the numbers included some thirteen runners from the ranks of Morpeth Harriers, most from KEVI High School, who proudly wore the yellow and red vest of Northumberland for the six age group, six to score for a team competition. (In fact the Northumberland tag is something of a misnomer, as the team also includes pupils drawn from schools in Newcastle and North Tyneside)
The county’s Junior Boys placed 6th overall but first from the North of England, with Morpeth Harriers Ryan Davies (20th and 1st counter for the team), Joe Dixon (28th and 2nd counter) and Will De Vere Owen (106th and 4th) all running. It was another fine run by Davies but mention should also be made of Dixon who, having been spiked on the first lap, gritted his teeth for the team and held on to a decent placing.
Kate Kennedy was the club’s sole representative in the matching Junior Girls, although she had the distinction of being 1st team counter in 91st place, the team coming home 39th.
Both Dylan Gooding and Dylan Davies ran in the Intermediate Boys race, finishing as 4th and 5th counters in 69th and 95th place respectively, the team in 5th providing Northumberland’s highest overall finish of the day, just behind local rivals Durham.
Ponteland High School pupil Abi Leiper, another committed athlete who has raced hard over the country this Winter, ran in the Intermediate Girls, finishing in 68th place as 3rd team counter, the team finishing in 19th.
One of the best individual performances of the day from a Morpeth perspective came from modern pentathlete Ross Charlton, who was 2nd counter in 21st place for the Senior Boys. Supporting him and providing the bulk of the team were KEVI pupils and club colleagues Dan Melling, 31st, Dan Dixon, 96th and Tom Balsdon, 219th, the team making the top ten in 6th place and 2nd from the North of England behind winners Lancashire.
Both Holly Peck, 183rd and 2nd counter, and Ella Duffield, 262nd,
ran for the Senior Women, who finished in 36th place.
With individual counties also placed in four team divisions based on the size of the number of eligible pupils in each county, Northumberland Boys won the John Hedge Trophy by a margin of over 1,000 points from their nearest rivals, Cumbria. The county’s girls placed 4th in the corresponding Nottinghamshire Trophy,
won this time by Cumbria.