Northumberland Schools finished an excellent third behind hosts Cumbria
at the annual Northern Inter Counties Schools Cross Country Championships,
held at Kirkby Stephen Grammar School on Saturday 4th February 2017.
They were 65 points adrift of second placed North Yorkshire,
however they were well ahead of Cleveland and Durham,
who had a very close 43-point margin battle
for fourth and fifth team places respectively.
Heavy early morning showers resulted in boggy conditions all-round the course,
which is set in rural farmland, which proved very testing for all,
including several athletes belonging to Morpeth Harriers,
who were competing for Northumberland, with one of the clubs’ flock
turning out for Durham, by virtue of his Gateshead College base.
This contest is very much the last stepping stone for athletes with aspirations
of making it onto the Bus for Norwich in early March, for the annual
English Schools Cross Country Championships,
when they will lock horns with the cream of the country’s best.
In the Intermediate Boys event, run over 5.7k, Rory Leonard proved
to be the best of the Morpeth Harriers performers,
finishing a mere eighteen seconds adrift of Cleveland’s Josh Cowperthwaite
of Middlesbrough AC, also the North-East Counties Cross Country Champion in the Under 17 age group.
Finishing second, Leonard is in the form of his young life, and is a certainty to be on the Bus to Norwich,
as is club colleague Daniel Dixon, who once again had an excellent run
to finish in third place, and only twelve seconds further adrift.
Both Leonard and Dixon picked up Silver and Bronze
individual medals to mark their respective achievements.
Dixon is the current North East Under 15 Boys Cross Country Champion,
and to have Leonard and him at the helm of the Northumberland squad,
bodes well for the English Championships.
Likely to join Leonard and Dixon at Norwich are club colleagues Matthew Waterfield
and Taylor Glover, who finished in 10th and 11th places respectively,
and were fourth and fifth home for Northumberland.
Morpeth Harriers Liam Marsh and Ross Charlton, who finished in 14th and 16th places,
await the verdict of selectors, as they were eighth and tenth home from the county.
Other Morpeth Harriers in action in the Intermediate Boys event were Daniel Melling (19th) (11th North),
Joe Ramshaw (26th) (12th North), and Connor Marshall (37th) (15th North).
Northumberland had their only team win of the day in this age group.
Finishing in second place in the Junior Girls 2.5k event, and only thirteen seconds adrift
of the previous week’s Northern Under 13 Girls Champion Alice Jones,
of North Yorkshire, and Wharfedale Harriers, Morpeth Harrier Holly Peck proved
beyond all doubt that she is well worthy of her English School’s place, as she led Northumberland home.
Peck won an individual Silver medal to mark her achievement.
Other Morpeth Harriers finishers in this event were Rhiannon Hedley (21st) (3rd North),
and Lily Heaton (27th) (4th North).
Northumberland finished as fourth team in the Junior Girls event.
Finishing in 23rd place overall, Thomas Cunningham of Morpeth Harriers
was second home for Northumberland in the Junior Boys 3.8k event.
Two places and three seconds behind him was club colleague Ben Walker,
who was third home from the county.
Further down the field in this event, and not likely to figure in the selectors plans
was Andrew Hudspith, who was 59th, and was tenth from the County.
Northumberland finished as fifth team in this age group.
An unfortunate illness prevented Morpeth’s Dylan Davies from travelling to compete,
however his fifth placing in the County Schools at South Shields in January,
may be enough to win the hearts of selectors.
In the Senior Boys 7.1k event Morpeth’s Jake Masterman finished in 22nd place
as second for Northumberland, however he will have to await the selectors decision
before knowing if he will make the final team selection, because several leading
protagonists chose to miss the Inter Counties.
Also, competing in the Senior Boys event was Jacob Hopkins, who ran in the colours of Durham,
but is unlikely to make their final squad, as he was twelfth in their list of finishers.
In the Intermediate Girls 3.8k event, Morpeth Harrier Gracie Hufton finished 26th,
and was ninth home for Northumberland, and awaits the selectors decision
with regards to her place in the English Schools Championships, as does club colleague Abby Sheldon,
who finished 39th in the Senior Girls 3.8k event, and was also ninth finisher for the County.
In the Minor Girls 1.9k event, Morpeth’s Alice Geoghegan finished in 42nd place,
along with club colleague Laura Melling, who finished in 47th place.
This age group are ineligible to compete in the English Schools Championships.