Host Sunderland Harriers were well pleased with their performances in the Northern Athletics Men’s 12-stage and Women’s Six-stage Road Relay Championships staged at Silksworth Sports Complex on Saturday.
Despite the club being fully stretched with the organisation, they turned out two teams in both events with rewarding results.
Team managers Albert James and Eddie Maddison had much to be content about, with both the men’s teams qualifying for the National finals at Sutton Coldfield on Saturday, April 16, while the women put in their best ever relay performance to finish a creditable 13th in their event.
James said: “Finishing in the top 10 was our goal and we achieved that with a solid performance from the team in 10th. It was a real surprise that our B team qualified. I am delighted with the results.’’
Women’s team manager Maddison remarked: “This is the first time we have managed to get our full-strength team out and to finish 13th was a superb show.’’
The highest position the men’s team rose to throughout their race was eighth, thanks to Mark Smith on the short leg four.
The A team started off in 12th through Andy Powell’s long leg run of 20min 32sec, followed by Steve Rankin 11.17, Kevin Jeffress (long leg) 20.45, Mark Smith 11.13, Ian Dixon (long leg) 21.50, Steve McMahon 10.56, Matthew Devlin (long leg) 21.52, Mark Hood 11.30, Michael Laws 11.47, Liam Roarty 11.18, Michael Edwards 11.52 and Michael Thompson 11.50.
The B team qualified through finishing in the first 30 in 29th place. They were Ian Ritchie (long leg) 22.16, Jake Jensen 11.31, Steve Gordon (long leg) 24.03, Alan Knebel 12.31, Mark Head (long leg) 23.56, Paul Collins 12.52, Jack Tallentire (long leg) 23.44, Paul Merrison 12.30, David Lash 13.02, Paul Redman 13.41, Steven Graham 12.26 and Steve Tiltman 13.46.
Sunderland Strollers finished 34th, with their best performance coming from Brendan O’Grady with a 21.35 long leg.
Salford won from Leeds, with Morpeth in third. They had Peter Newton claiming the fastest long leg of the day with his 18.57 circuit.
The quickest short leg was completed by James Bowness of Trafford with his effort of 10.09.
The Sunderland’s women’s team which finished 13th was Michelle Avery (long leg) 26.26, Jess Fox 13.39, Sarah O’Mahoney 15.12, Judith Thirlwell (long leg) 27.10, Nicola Woodward 13.43 and Alice Smith 13.32.
Commonwealth and European medallist Laura Weightman was in outstanding form, recording the fastest short leg time in the women’s relay of 11.07 – nearly one minute quicker than the next best.
With coach Steve Cram in attendance, Weightman helped Morpeth take the bronze medals behind winners Leeds and Rotherham. Birtley finished fourth, with Sunderland’s Sophie Burnett contributing a 12.26 leg – the fifth best of the day.
The fastest long leg was established by Claire Duck (Leeds) with 22.01.