A truly excellent club performance saw Morpeth Harriers Male athletes win all the possible five team titles at the annual North Eastern Counties Cross Country Championships, held at a very windy Cardinal Hume School,
in Wrekenton, Gateshead on Saturday 8th December 2018.
In addition, the club also had respective team Silver and Bronze medal successes being
achieved by their Senior and combined Under 17 and Under 20 Women’s squads.
Six individual Championship medals were also achieved on the day, five Silver, and one Bronze,
perhaps ironically, no Gold, four of those medals coming from their Male contingent,
with two being won by their Female athletes.
The clubs Senior Men very much led the way, winning their 12k Championship, run over four laps,
for the seventh consecutive year, by the closest of ten-point margins from Durham City,
with Gateshead Harriers a further forty-one points adrift in third place.
Finishing in eighth place overall, and eighty five seconds adrift of race winner
Greg Jayasuriya of Middlesbrough and Cleveland, and fifty one seconds outside the individual medals.
Andrew Lawrence led the squad home, with a very solid performance, only one place and a few seconds ahead of club colleague Jordan Scott, with another two Morpeth Harriers Ross Floyd and Thomas Straughan,
also mere seconds adrift with solid performances to finish tenth and eleventh places respectively.
It was clearly evident, that with four of the six required counters already home, that Durham City were breathing down Morpeth’s neck in team affairs, however Alistair Douglass’s 29th placing, gave the club a little bit of daylight.
Relief was not seen however until Thomas Innes came home in 65th place to complete a winning count.
346 finishers took part in the Senior Men’s event, with other Morpeth performances coming from
Lee Bennett (82nd), Will Clark (99th), Rob Hancox (108th),
Paul Waterston (125th) James Johnson (162nd), and David Nicholson(193rd).
An absolutely superb individual performance by Taylor Glover, possibly his best ever,
saw him lead Morpeth Harriers Under 20 Men to a four-point margin team win over Middlesbrough Mandale,
who were led home by race winner, and individual Gold Medallist Josh Cowperthwaite,
who had got away early in the 8k three lap event, to win by a margin of thirty-six seconds.
Glover, and his Morpeth club colleague Alex Brown were the only two to give chase, and working together,
they slowly narrowed Cowperthwaite’s early lead, and eventually it was Glover, who stole away
to take his well-earned Silver medal, with Brown taking the Bronze.
Morpeth’s team victory was confirmed as Matthew Briggs came home
in sixth place, and just over a minute outside the minor medals.
A very close race at the front of the Under 17 Men’s 6k two lap event, saw Morpeth’s Daniel Dixon having to settle for second place, and a Silver medal, behind Wallsend Harrier Sam Charlton, who won with twenty-nine seconds to spare, with Houghton’s Will Bellamy, taking the Bronze medal, three seconds adrift of Dixon.
Dixon was overjoyed to lead Morpeth Harriers to a six-point team victory,
with further excellent support coming from Ross Charlton (5th), and Daniel Melling (8th).
Third team place and Bronze medals went to the Bellamy led Houghton team.
Morpeth’s other Under 17 Men’s performances came from Tom Balsdon (10th),
Rowan Bennett (13th), and Brad Brown (33rd).
Despite having some illness problems, Morpeth Harriers youngest Male performers rose to the occasion well,
by producing two excellent Gold medal winning team performances.
None more so than the Under 13 Boys, on their single lap 3k event.
Losing key athlete Bertie Marr to illness late on, the squad battled hard to take team gold by a five-point margin over Durham City, being led home by an equally delighted Ryan Davies, who finished second, taking an individual Silver.
Davies actually was very close to winning the individual title, only losing out by a mere two seconds to Blackhill’s Tom Slane, after passing him in the closing stages, scenting a chance of snatching victory.
Unfortunately, a last ditch, last gasp effort by Slane won him the Gold.
Supporting Davies in the Morpeth team win were Joe Dixon (7th),
and Joseph Hudspith (12th), each excellent performances.
Other Morpeth Harriers in the 77 finishers in the Under 13 Boys field
were Adam Howliston (33rd), and Sam Dent (35th).
The clubs Under 15 Boys won on a last man countback situation in their two lap 4k event, to win team Gold,
after finishing on a level points score with Gateshead Harriers.
It was a very close team race in this event, with North Shields Poly only a mere point adrift for Bronze team medals.
The Morpeth squad were dealt a hefty blow on the eve of the event, when Dylan Davies,
older brother of Under 13 Boy Ryan, was forced out of action with a chest infection.
Ben Waterfield was Morpeth’s leading finisher, placing ninth, with further scoring counts
coming from Dylan Gooding (11th), and Euan Duffin (18th), doing well to finish,
after suffering an asthma attack during the event.
It was fortunate that Duffin was able to finish however, as his placing guaranteed a Morpeth victory,
as their next finisher was Ben Walker, who finished 25th, and his finish would have seen the club back in third spot.
Morpeth’s other finisher in the field of 65, led by Birtley’s Chris Perkins, was Matthew Walton, who was 41st.
In the Senior Women’s three lap 8k event, Morpeth’s Emma Holt clearly showed that she is back somewhere close to her best form, finishing second to Jarrow and Hebburn’s Georgia Campbell, only losing out for Gold by a margin of thirty-six seconds.
Holt also led her club to team Silver behind Jarrow and Hebburn, losing out for Gold by fourteen points,
with Gosforth Harriers third, eight points adrift.
Assisting Holt in the Morpeth team count were Gemma Floyd (7th), Rachelle Falloon (9th), and Vicky Gibbs (58th).
Other Morpeth performances in the field of 231 finishers were
Claire Calverley (77th), and Lesley Chapman (152nd).
Bronze team medals were won by Morpeth Harriers combined
Under 17/Under 20 Women’s squad in their 6k event, run over two laps.
Holly Peck ran superbly to take the individual Silver, finishing 83 seconds adrift
of Darlington’s India Pentland, who is a year older.
Peck led her squad home, with further good team support coming from
Gracie Hufton (19th) (7th U/20), and Ella Duffield (20th) (13th U/17).
Other Morpeth runners in the finishing field of 38 were
Lauren Cummings (25th) (17th U/17), and Kay Errington (27th) (9th U/20).
Morpeth Harriers Under 15 Girls finished as sixth team in their two lap 4k event.
First home was Rhiannon Hedley, who finished in eighteenth place overall,
with further team support coming from Rebecca Bradley (21st), and Olivia Carruthers (32nd).
Morpeth’s other finisher in this event was Laura Melling, who was 43rd in the finishing field of 58.
The club had two finishers in the Under 13 Girls single lap 3k event,
which attracted a field of 65. Molly Baker finished 36th, and Catalina Chaundler was 47th.
The Non-Scoring Under 11 events that preceded the Championship events
attracted a total of 118 runners, sixty-five in the Boys race, and fifty-three in the Girls race.
Two Boys from Morpeth Harriers toed the start line.
Oliver Tomlinson finished sixth, and Toby Marr was 59th.