North East Senior Men’s team aiming to be record breakers

Main picture: Sunderland Harriers' Ian Dixon (18) and Kevin Jeffress (62) lead the North East Masters' Cross Country Championships in the earlier stages. Picture by David Aspen.
Main picture: Sunderland Harriers' Ian Dixon (18) and Kevin Jeffress (62) lead the North East Masters' Cross Country Championships in the earlier stages. Picture by David Aspen.

The North East Senior Men’s team bid to beat Lancashire’s record number of team victories in the UK Inter Counties Cross Country Championships at Loughborough on Saturday, March 10.

The six-man team went into the record books last year by equalling Lancashire’s seven team wins in a row at Prestwold Hall.

North East selectors have selected their 16-man squad for the challenge ahead and four of last year’s counting six are on the team sheet again.

They are Northern champion Carl Avery (Morpeth), Phil Wylie (Cheltenham), Greg Jayasuriya (Middlesbrough and Cleveland) and Jarrow and Hebburn’s Andy Burn.

The rest of the squad are: Callum Johnson (Gateshead), Lewis Timmins (Morpeth), Jack Willis (Middlesbrough and Cleveland), Chris Smith (Morpeth) and Sam Hancox (Morpeth).

Sunderland Harrier Kevin Jeffress, the winner of the North East Masters’ Cross Country Championships on Sunday and Houghton Harrier junior Alex Brown are down as reserves.

The other reserves are: Adrian Bailes (Birtley), Tom Charlton (Tyne Bridge), Dean Newton (New Marske), Dan Jenkin (Durham), Lewis Gamble-Thompson (New Marske) and Conrad Franks (Gateshead).

If reserves are needed they will be selected according to their current form.

The women’s team is: Emma Holt (Morpeth), Jane Hodgson (Morpeth), Dannielle Hodgson (Morpeth), Chloe Price (Birtley), Lydia Turner (Birtley), Georgia Campbell (Jarrow and Hebburn), Helen Warburton (Gosforth), Steph Pattinson (Jarrow and Hebburn) and Jo Gascoigne-Owens (Alnwick).

Two Sunderland Harriers are included in the reserves in Alice Smith and Vicky Haswell. The others are Carla Maley (North Shields Poly), Gina Rutherfiord (Jarrow and Hebburn), Sharon Bulman (New Marske) and Shona Haston (Teesdale).

Houghton Harriers have a number of their young athletes selected for the younger age group events at Loughborough.

In the Under-15 Girls, they have three athletes in the team in Lydia James, Amy Leonard and Anna Pigford. Eva Hardie is reserve for the Under-17 Women’s team.

Henry Johnson and Will Bellamy are down for the Under-15 Boys’ team, while Tom Whelan and Adam Middleton are reserves for the Under-20 Men’s team.

Sunderland Harriers have Sarah Knight in the Under-17 Women’s team and Eve Quinn is reserve. Sean Mackie is selected for the Under-20 Men’s team.

In the North East Masters’ Cross Country Championships at Darlington on Sunday, Sunderland Harriers won two men’s team titles and one women’s Over-35 title. All their seven man squad came away with at least one medal.

They took the Over-45-54 Men’s team title and the Over-35-44 championship with winner Kevin Jeffress, runner-up Ian Dixon and Tony Allinson 59th.

The Dalton Park 10km Road Race took place on Sunday at the third time of asking after snow and ice on the course postponed the two previous attempts to stage the race.

Elvet Strider Stephen Jackson was the first winner of the new event, completing the course in 33.08. Gary Wallace Blackhill was second (33.14) and former Stroller Liam Taylor, now running unattached, was third (34.02).

Houghton Harrier Juma Tatah finished 15th (36.39) and his clubmate Tom Whelan was 26th (37.16).

Sunderland Harriers had Paul Collins as first Over-50 in 18th (36.47), Steven Gordon clocked the same time in 19th and Michael Heskett was 21st (36.51).

The first woman was Keri Pearson of Barton AC in 40.22.

The penultimate North Eastern Harrier League takes place at Thornley Hall Farm, Peterlee on Saturday.

Sunderland Harriers women, challenging for promotion from the Second Division, will be relying on Vikki Cotton, Vicky Haswell, Linda Mudford, Lauren Paxton and Nicola Woodward to deliver a good performance.

The Farm is located off the A181 road (DH6 3LY). There is no off-site parking. Do not park on the main road. Any runner found to be in a vehicle parked on the main road will be disqualified from the race.

Parking is £2 per vehicle and is on a field within the farm. The entrance to the farm is directly off the A181.