Athletes defy elements to book World places

Houghton Harriers Brandon Pye.
Houghton Harriers Brandon Pye.

The North East shone in the Inter Counties Cross Country Championships and World Trials at Loughborough on Saturday.

Despite gale force winds, intermittent showers and sunshine, athletes battled through the worst of the wind to put the counties team firmly in the limelight with many fine performances.

Super runs from Morpeth’s Rory Leonard and Middlesbrough’s Josh Cowperthwaite, with second and third places respectively in the Under-20s Men’s race, assured the pair of their places in the six man British team for Denmark, on Saturday, March 30. Leonard was lucky to finish the race as he was running with one of his shoes only half on.

Shildon’s Kate Avery, with fourth place in the Senior Women’s race, will have to wait until Tuesday to see if she gets the nod, as she was out of an automatic top two position and automatic selection.

The Senior and Under-20s were the only events that athletes could gain World Championship selection, but there was still much to gain for runners that did not reach that criteria.

Leonard and Cowperthwaite also led the North East to second place in the team contest, finishing 10 points behind Yorkshire. While Avery’s fine performance ensured the North East finished third in their team competition, much to the delight of team manager and Houghton Harrier Lynn Cooper. The rest of the team was Danielle Smythe 42nd, Helen Warburton 50th, Rachel Lundgren 56th, Emma Holt 59th and Catriona McDonald 107th. Sunderland Harrier Alice Smith was a non-team counter in 181st.

Morpeth’s Carl Avery, third in the National Cross Country Championships just two weeks ago, this time had to be satisfied with seventh. He was backed by Calum Johnson 19th, Phil Wylie 30th, Greg Jayasurlya 66th, Adrian Bailes 96th and Finn Brodie 101st for sixth team place.

The Under-15 Girls’ team scored a good victory in beating Scotland West by just one point. The team was Inness Curran ninth, Houghton Harrier Amy Leonard 25th, Katie Francis 29th and Chester-le Street’s Emily Chong 42nd.

Sam Charlton, Wallsend’s National, Northern and North Eastern Cross Country champion, added the Inter Counties title to his season’s list of honours in the Under-17 Men’s event. He finished strongly in defeating Scotland West’s, Hamish Armitt, by six seconds. The team finished fourth with Charlie McMillan 25th, Archie Lowe 33rd and Houghton Harrier Henry Johnson 38th. Houghton’s Will Bellamy was a non-counter in 78th.

There was another winner for the North East when Darlington’s Indie Pentland won the Under-17s race. Houghton placed Anna Pigford in 65th, Lydia James 67th and Eva Hardie was a non-team scorer in 76th. The team finished fifth.

Houghton Harrier Brandon Pye in 26th and Tom Slane27th steered the North East to fifth team place in the Under-13s.

In the Under-20s Women’s race, Sunderland Harriers had Sarah Knight 59th, Eve Quinn 112th and Hayley Dobinson 144th.