Ten-time Sherman Cup champions Sunderland Harriers were knocked out of the medals before the start of the competition at South Shields on Saturday.
The event, based on the overall cross country strength of North East clubs, saw the Wearsiders fail to turn out an Under-17 men’s team.
This relegated the club to fourth place as only three of the 33 competing clubs managed a full complement of five teams for the various age groups.
The competition was won by Morpeth with 10 points. Gosforth were second on 32 and Gateshead third with 42.
If Sunderland had managed to turn out a team, and even if they had finished last in the Under-17s, they would have finished second overall.
Houghton Harriers were in the same boat as Sunderland as they finished fifth overall after also having no Under-17 men’s team.
The same fate also befell Sunderland Harriers women’s team, who were competing for the Davison Shield.
They also finished fourth overall after failing to close in an Under-13 team.
Sunderland’s best performance came in the senior men’s race, placing six men in the first 20.
But Morpeth were easy winners, led by race winner Carl Avery (29min 10sec). Sam Hancox second (29.42) and Tom Straughan fifth (30.34) completed an easy team win.
Jarrow’s Andy Burn was third (30.24) and teenage Houghton Harrier Alex Brown was a fine ninth (31.03).
Sunderland finished second team, courtesy of counters Kevin Jeffress 10th (31.30), Barry Maskell 14th (31.45) and Sparrow Morley 16th (31.59).
Then came Andy Powell 17th (32.06), Steve McMahon 19th (32.10) and Michael Barker 20th (32.12).
Sunderland Harriers’ veterans also finished second, with Steve Potts 28th (33.20), Steven Graham 78th (36.04) and Alan Hodgson 90th (36.28).
Maskell was having his first Sherman Cup race for Sunderland foll0wing his transfer from Gateshead Harriers.
Houghton Harriers’ top result came in the Under-15 boys race, which was won by Morpeth’s Daniel Dixon (10.16).
Henry Johnson was second (10.37), Will Bellamy eighth (11.05) and Matthew Cleugh 26th (12.22) as Houghton finished second team.
In the Davison Shield, Sunderland saw their under-17/20 team finish second to Gosforth and the club’s veterans’ took third team spot.
Gosforth’s favourite, Rhian Purves, won the race in 20.58 ahead of Sunderland’s Jess Fox (21.19) and she was followed by Sarah Knight in ninth (22.32) and Eve Quinn 13th (23.17).
British Olympian Laura Weightman won the women’s race (21.29) from Morpeth club-mate Emma Holt (22.43).
Sunderland’s women’s captain Colleen Compson led the veterans into third team place in 29th (26.23), followed by Nicola Woodward 34th (26.55) and Vicky Younger 38th (27.11).
Houghton’s Under-15 team beat Morpeth by just one point to win the team race, with Lydia James second (12.14), Eva Hardie fifth (12.39) and Lily Hardie seventh (12.54).
Houghton’s Under-13s were second, placing Nicola Phillips sixth, Amy Leonard seventh and Madelaine Turner 19th.
Sunderland Harriers’ over-40 veteran Ian Dixon clocked a personal best in yesterday’s Brampton to Carlisle 10-mile Road Race.
He finished second in his category, in 19th place overall, in 55.20.
The race was won by Morpeth’s Nick Swinburn in a time of 50.18 – well outside Nick Sloan’s course record of 45.50.
The women’s winner was Birtley’s Tracy Millmore (58.35).
Sunderland Strollers had Andrew Forbes in 68th (60.29) and Ritchie Gerry seventh over-50 in 62.48.