SIX Sunderland Harriers have been selected in the first wave of selections for the North East team to contest the Inter Counties Cross Country Championships at Birmingham on Saturday, March 5.
The Inter Counties also doubles as the trials for the World Cross Country Championships at Spain on Sunday, March 20.
Teams will be finalised after the National Cross Country Championships at Alton Towers on Saturday, February 19.
For the younger age groups, this Saturday’s Inter Counties schools’ match at Haydon Bridge will also be taken into consideration for final nominations.
Squads of 15 have been selected for both the senior men’s and senior women’s teams, with nine to run on the day.
Sunderland Harrier Patrick Martin is rewarded for his fine fifth place finish in the Northern Cross Country Championships at Herrington Country Park on Saturday with selection.
The other squad members are: Ryan McLeod (Tipton), Peter Newton, Matthew Nicholson, Ross Floyd (Morpeth), Dan Garbutt (Durham), Ricky Stevenson, Andrew Wiles, Dominic Shaw (New Marske), Ian Twaddle (North Shields), Matt Whitfield (Bingley), Carl Smith (Leeds) and James Buis (Heaton).
Team manager Stephen O’Gara said: “If we can get our best team out from that squad the team will take some beating. It will depend on McLeod’s and Stevenson’s indoor aspirations on whether they turn out.’’
The women’s squad will be defending their title and Durham’s Rosie Smith, third at Herrington, is one of the team’s key runners. The rest of the squad is: Jane Mooney, Maxine Czarnecka, Carolyn Dickie (Morpeth), Tracy Millmore, Angela Hunter (Chester-le-Street), Anna Turvey, Joanna Zoppi (Heaton), Carolyn Summersgill (Middlesbrough & Cleveland), Justina Heslop (Clapham Chasers), Samuel Samuels (Sale), Kate Avery (Shildon), Stacy Smith, Marry Ferrier (Gateshead) and Georgina Rutherford (Darlington).
Smith is chasing selection for the European indoor championships, so her final selection will depend on her performance in the UK Indoor Championships and trials at Sheffield in two weeks.
Sunderland Harriers’ Jason Waite and Jake Archer have been pencilled into the junior men’s under-20 squad.
Waite, pictured, still far from his best, is on the comeback trail after over a year out on the injured list. Durham’s Michael Grimes has also got the nod.
Michael Wilson has much to do if he is going to make the final eight in the under-15s boys team. He returned from injury to finish 40th in the Northern race at Herrington and just scraped into the squad.
The other two Sunderland Harriers’ down on the squad sheets are Sophie Burnett in the under-13 girls’ and Amy Coulson under-15 girls Houghton Harrier Sophia Pearson is included in the under-20 women’s team.
H The rearranged North East Harrier League will be staged on Sunday by Elswick Harriers at Newcastle’s Town Moor.
Sunderland Harriers will need to turn out a strong team if they are to cut down on the lead by table toppers Morpeth. The Wearsiders are in fourth place on eight points, behind Morpeth 5, Heaton 7 and South Shields 7. The club’s under-15 team with two wins from two fixtures, are at the head of their league.
H Sunderland Strollers are flyng high at the top of the senior men’s second division on two points, ahead of Birtley 6 and Durham 6.
The meeting starts at 12.30 and the senior men are off at 1.00. There is no under-11s race.