There was certainly plenty of mud for all athletes to contend with at the annual
Northern Region Schools Inter Counties Cross Country Championships,
held at Preston Park, near Eaglescliffe in Cleveland on Saturday 6th February.
The heavy rain that had fallen just a couple of hours before action got underway at noon,
had turned the lush grass into a sponge, which after the first event for Minor Girls,
was very much resembling a quagmire, and by the end of the day after about two and a half hours activity,
runners in the later events were ploughing through areas that were almost swamp like.
Despite the very testing conditions, the competition between the counties of Cleveland,
who were hosts, Cumbria, Durham, Northumberland and North Yorkshire was still fierce to the bitter end however,
and there were still some good performances to be seen, in what was the last official hurdle
before next month’s English Schools Cross Country Championships, which are scheduled to be held in Nottingham.
Major team honours on the day went to Cumbria, who triumphed in no less than five of the age group events.
On the day, Northumberland, who had several athletes from Morpeth Harriers in their ranks,
managed four second team places, and two thirds, plus a fourth, however did not finish a team in the Senior Boy’s event.
Best individual performances in positional terms for Northumberland came in the Intermediate Boys 5.1k event,
where Kieran Hedley and Rory Leonard were first and second home for the County in fourth and eighth places respectively.
Northumberland finished as third team in this event behind North Yorkshire and Cumbria,
with Morpeth Harriers Taylor Glover and Adam Shewry providing the
third and fourth counts in 20th and 23rd places respectively.
Other Morpeth Harriers in action in the Intermediate Boys event were
Matthew Waterfield (53rd), and Connor Marshall (55th),
who were ninth and tenth home for Northumberland.
Ross Charlton and Daniel Melling of Morpeth Harriers were second
and third counters for Northumberland in the Junior Boys 4k event.
They finished in 6th and 17th places respectively.
The Junior Girls 3.4k event saw Morpeth’s Holly Peck and Lily Heaton
finish within close proximity to each other in 7th and 8th places respectively,
as second and third from Northumberland.
Fourth counter for the second placed Northumberland team
was Morpeth’s Ellie Coxon, who did well in finishing in 16th place.
Northumberland also finished a good second to Cumbria in the Minor Boys 2.3k event,
with Morpeth’s diminutive Ben Walker ploughing his way through the difficult troughs
of mud to finish an excellent eighth, and as second counter for their squad.
Also competing for Northumberland in the Minor Boys event from Morpeth
was Jack Barrett, who finished 47th, and was eleventh home from the County.
Schools Cross Country competition now ends for the Minor Boys,
as that age group are ineligible for the National finals.
Two Morpeth Harriers were in action for Durham Schools in the
Senior Boys 5.8k event, who finished second to Cumbria.
Joe Armstrong looked strong in the early stages of the event,
however slipped back to ninth, and was third home for the Durham squad.
The other Morpeth Harrier competing in this event was Jacob Hopkins,
who sadly did not relish the tricky conditions,
and finished 39th, and was thirteenth home for Durham.
One Morpeth Harrier who did relish the conditions however was Charlotte Jewell,
who is showing a resurgence of better form, and ran well to finish 12th
in the Senior Girls 4k event, and was fourth counter for the Northumberland team,
who just lost out for victory to Cumbria by the slender margin of two points.
Another Morpeth Harrier in action in this event was Abby Sheldon, who worked
her way through the heavy muddy terrain to finish 24th, and as sixth counter for Northumberland.
In the Minor Girls 2.3k event, which was the very first event of the day on the course,
Morpeth Harrier Rhiannon Hedley finished in 13th place, and was fourth home
for the Northumberland squad, who were a very close third behind North Yorkshire and Cumbria.
As with the Minor Boys, this juncture is where their Schools Cross Country activity ends,
as this age group are also ineligible for the National Finals.
Northumberland finished second to Cumbria in the Intermediate Girls 4k event,
and Morpeth Harrier Gracie Hufton capped an excellent County debut
when finishing 49th overall and was eleventh home for the squad.
Two places behind her was fellow Morpeth Harrier Kate Seymour,
who was thirteenth home from the County.
Another Morpeth Harrier in action in this age group was Lizzie Rank,
who finished in 64th place, and fourteenth home from the County.
Northumberland and Durham Schools selectors will be getting together
over the next few weeks to finalise their respective squads for Nottingham,
which should include several Morpeth Harriers athletes.