Disappointing return at Championships for Sunderland athletes

Easington's Nicole Phillips, first in the Inter Girls category.
Easington's Nicole Phillips, first in the Inter Girls category.

Sunderland had another disappointing Durham Schools’ Cross Country Championships at Barnard Castle on Saturday.

They won just one bronze medal in the contested eight events and only managed to finish two full teams of six runners.

There are many reasons being put forward why the results are not what they should be and the decline in school sport in schools in Sunderland is just one of the reasons.

Despite having two teachers at the helm with bounds of enthusiasm and experience for cross country racing, they are still struggling in getting some city schools to return to the sport.

With athletics disappearing from the schools’ sporting curriculum, results were sure to suffer. More involvement with local club Sunderland Harriers is on the cards and this may help to turn the sport around.

And this has already got off the ground with a £500 grant from the Harriers’ being presented to Sunderland Schools to purchase new vests.

The much smaller area of West Wearside are riding high by outshining their much bigger neighbours by winning three individual gold medals, three silver and one bronze with Easington also getting among the medals with one gold and one bronze.

Teams of 18 will now contest the Inter County event on Saturday, February 2, at Temple Park South Shields before selection for the English Schools’ Championships at Chelmsford on Saturday, March 16 takes place.

Durham Schools Results: Year 7 Boys: 1 Alex Boyer (Darl), 2 Elwood Kelley (Darl), 3 Shay Renwick (Derwentside), 10 Addis Dore (West Wearside). Team Darlington.

Year 7 Girls: 1 Charlotte Dillon (Dur Cen), 2 Ella Jones (Dur Cen), 3 Annabel Milburn (Gates), 9 Jessica Greggs (Sunderland), 12 Lucy Mutch (Sunderland), 13 Sophie Leonard (West Wear), 15 Izzy Ward (Eas). Team Gateshead.

Junior Boys: 1 Christopher Perkins, 2 Brandon Pye (West Wearside), 3 Dillon Revell (Easington). Team Gateshead.

Junior Girls: 1 Lucy Scothern (West Wearside), 2 Katie Francis (Gates), 3 Ciara Thornley (Gates), 16 Elizabeth McKinnon (West Wearside). Team Gateshead.

Inter Boys: 1 Henry Johnson (West Wearside), 2 Will Bellamy (West Wearside), 3 Daniel Joyce (Gates), 10 David Race (West Wearside), 12 Chris Coulson (West Wearside). Team Darlington.

Inter Girls: 1 Nicole Phillips (Easington), 2 Emily Chong (Dur Cen), 3 Lydia James (West Wearside). 4 Anna Pigford (Dur Cen), 5 Amy Leonard (West Wear), 12 Laura Greggs (Sunderland). Durham Central.

Senior Boys: 1 Cameron Thomas (Dur Cen), 2 Ben Horsfield (Dur Cen), 3 Will Lindsay (Dur Cen), 5 Oliver Barrett (West Wearside), 12 Rowan James (Sunderland).

Senior Girls: 1 India Pentland (Darl), 2 Eva Hardie (West Wearside), 3 Sarah Knight (Sunderland), 8 Eve Quinn (West Wearside), 9 Eve Southern (West Wearside).

Sunderland Harriers, Sunderland Strollers and Houghton Harriers are all heading to Pontefract for the Northern Cross Country Championships on Saturday.

Houghton Harriers have the best chance of winning medals in the Under-17 men’s event headed by Will Bellamy and Henry Johnson, and including Sam Gibson, Jack Seeney and Izaak Taylor in the team.

The Under-17 women also have a strong team in Eva Hardie, Laura Megan, Lydia James, and Anna Pigford, all down to run.

North East selectors will sit down on Sunday to select North East teams for the Inter Counties Cross Country Championships on Saturday, March 9, at Prestwold Hall, Loughborough.

They face a busy day with 126 athletes, including reserves up for selection.

The first three finishers in each age group at the North East Championships have gained automatic selection, leaving five places plus reserves still to be decided.

If you are unable to run the Northerns and would like to be considered for selection contact: Stewy Bell nufcstewy@hotmail.com (men’s team) or Lynn Cooper lynn.cooper@ntlworld.com (women’s team).

Sunderland Harriers’ Cross Country Grand Prix is entering the final stages of the competition and the Northern Championships is the biggest points earner so far with only the National Championship earning more points.

The leaders are: Judith Thirlwell, Paul Redman and Alice Smith are tying at the top of the league. With five prizes up for grabs and the first one values at £150 there is still plenty to play for.

The leaders are: Paul Redman 23 points, Alice Smith 23, Dale Wilkinson 21, Alan McManus 21, Darren Stoker 19, Jenna Wilkinson 19, Amy Callaghan 18,Shaun Bagley 18, Steve Rankin 18, Steve McMahon 17, Paul Merrison 17, Maria Davis 15, Judith Shotton 15, Nicola Hufton 15 and David Wilkinson 14.