Athletics: North East duo impress at Liverpool to clinch European Championship places

Former Sunderland Harrier Jack Martin.Former Sunderland Harrier Jack Martin.
Former Sunderland Harrier Jack Martin.
Two North East athletes have made the team for the European Cross Country Championships at the British Athletics Cross Challenge and European Trials at Liverpool on Saturday.

Morpeth Harriers’ Under-20 Scott Beattie and recent Morpeth recruit Under-23 Mhairi Maclennan, whose Scottish club is Inverness, booked their places for Slovakia on Sunday, December 10.

Beattie, who travelled back from his studies at Tulsa University in the United States, finished fifth (21min 16sec) in the Under-20s men’s race at Sefton Park, while Maclenna was 14th in the senior women’s race (28.51) and fourth Under-23 to earn automatic selection for that age category at Samorin.

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Beattie finished behind the winner, Leicester’s Ben Dijkstra (20.58), while Middlesbrough’s Josh Cowperthwaite finished 15th (21.50).

Comeback girl Emelia Gorecka (Aldershot Farnham & District) earned a popular victory (27.59) in the senior women’s race after getting the better of Jess Judd (Cheltenham) 28.06 and Charnwood’s Gemma Steel (28.16).

Behind Maclennan came other North East hopefuls in Shildon’s Kate Avery with 16th, (28.58), Morpeth’s Laura Weightman 20th (29.07), Under-23 Lydia Turner (Birtley) 29th (29.41) and Emma Holt (Morpeth) 50th (30.25).

Ben Connor (Derby) won the men’s race (30.18), while former Sunderland Harrier Jack Martin (Stockport) was 10th (31.04) and 37 seconds behind fourth place and automatic European selection. Morpeth’s Carl Avery took 33rd (32.05).

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In the Under-15 boys’ race, Houghton Harriers Henry Johnson and Will Bellamy both had fine performances in finishing sixth (9.57) and seventh (10.02) respectively.

But it was Middlesbrough’s Archie Lowe who was the first from the region in fifth (9.50).

Houghton’s Nicole Phillips was 39th in the Under-15 girls’ race.

The leading performance from a North East athlete came from Morpeth’s Rory Leonard. with second place in the Under-17’s men’s race.