The North Eastern Counties enjoyed a medal haul in the British Athletics Inter-Counties Cross Country Championships at Loughborough on Saturday.
The 82-strong team, covering 10 age categories, won a full set of individual medals plus two team golds and one silver, over the mud-splattered course.
But there was disappointment for the below full strength senior men’s team, who failed to overtake Lancashire’s record of seven team victories in a row when they finished outside the medals.
Their first man home, Carl Avery (Morpeth), improved five places on his last year’s performance to richly deserve his England call-up for the Home Countries International.
Sunderland Harrier Kevin Jeffress had a good run to finish fourth team counter in 94th to show that his London Marathon preparations are going well.
The women’s team were also out of the medals, but there were good runs from Danielle Hodgkinson, in 21st, the Morpeth pair of Emma Noble (34th) and Jane Hodgson (42nd), plus Seaham’s improving Georgia Campbell in 52nd.
Sunderland Harrier Alice Smith had a solid run to finish as the team’s final counter in 102nd.
It was left to Morpeth’s Rory Leonard to deliver the perfect result with his scintillating victory in the Under-17 men’s race, winning by 21 seconds.
He also led the North East team to triumph, with backing from Sam Charlton in 11th. Josh Cowperthwaite (14th) and Daniel Dixon (25th).
The Under-13 boys’ team also came up trumps with their thrilling victory by placing Joshua Blevins in second, Birtley’s Christopher Perkins fourth, Will Collinson 19th and Tom Shane 20th.
Houghton Harriers Henry Johnson and Will Bellamy, who have been so prominent in the Under-15 age group throughout the season, found the heavy conditions not to their liking.
Despite this, they still helped the team to second place, with Johnson finishing 19th and Bellamy 28th. Archie Lowe, in seventh, led the team home in a fine seventh place, with Daniel Payne the final scorer in 64th.
India Pentland won the Under-17 women’s bronze medal and Sunderland Harrier Sarah Knight was just outside a team counting position in 106th.
Houghton also had three representatives in the Under-15 girls’ race in the team that finished fifth.
Amy Leonard was second team counter in 46th and Lydia James was the final scorer in 48th, while Anna Pigford finished 114th.
Sunderland Harrier Sean Mackie was a non-counter for the North East team in the Under-20 men’s race, in 105th, and Houghton Harrier Adam Middleton was 155th.