Junior Harriers Make National Finals

Last weekend saw the culmination of what seems like, a long season of schools’ track and field athletics. After the selection process of initially being put forward by their schools, then qualifying at County and Inter-Counties level, at last, the National Finals were here! The ESAA National Championships are the 4th largest athletics event in the World, this year being staged at Alexander Stadium, Birmingham.

The annual event brings together the best athletes in each County in England to compete for the honour of being the best athlete in the Country at their event. Just reaching the finals is an accolade in itself as the standard of competition is obviously very high, but we’re proud to say, several of our Junior Harriers made it to the pinnacle of school athletics. Most were competing for Durham, and one for Cleveland, so if you haven’t heard already, here’s how things went…..
Junior Boys 1500m It didn’t take Adam Russell long to make his mark at Darlington Harriers. Along with his twin brother, John, they have soon become two of the club’s best middle distance runners. It wasn’t a surprise to see them doing well at the various stages of the English Schools competitions, but it was Adam that made it to the Finals this year. The 1500m was split into two rounds, and unfortunately, the pace of Adam’s heat was considerably slower than the other, which was never going to help with qualification to the final. It was a close finish, the first nine athletes crossing the line within 3 seconds of each other! As it was, Adam finished 6th in his heat in a time of 4:29.14, only 1.5s behind the winner, but just missing out on qualification. A fantastic effort though, well done Adam!

Inter Boys 1500m Steeplechase This was only the sixth steeplechase that Liam Brittle had taken part in; plus this is his first season running as an Inter so this was never going to be a walk in the park. But Liam is always up for a challenge and certainly gave it a good go. After a great effort he finished in 12th place crossing the line in 5:03.67. Nice one Liam, we’re sure you’ll be back again next year!

Liam Brittle about to take a dip!

Junior Girls 100m Another young athlete who was competing a year early was our Under 15 sprinter, Darcey Garbutt. As the youngest in the Durham squad, today was more about the experience than the results. She finished 12th in her heat in a time of 13.2s with only the top two qualifying for the final. Well done Darcey – next year, wiser and stronger, will be your time to shine! ☺
Junior Girls 75m Hurdles Talking of shining. The only one of our Junior Harriers running for Cleveland, was Under 15 sprinter, Charlotte Rutter. This was a highly competitive field with 27 athletes taking part. These were split into four heats, then two semi-finals on the Friday, followed by the final on the Saturday. Charlotte was in the second heat which she sailed through finishing in 2nd place with a new PB of 11.31s! Onto the semi’s. Again Charlotte was on fire, this time finishing in 3rd place, only 0.12s behind the winner in a time of 11.27s, with another new PB! If at all possible she now needed a good night’s sleep as she’d qualified for the final the next day! A fantastic achievement whatever happened. In the final, against the country’s best, Charlotte finished an excellent 6th place in 11.36s; all three of her runs reaching ‘national standard.’ Congratulations, Charlotte, an outstanding achievement!

Charlotte Rutter with junior coach, Adam Mitchell wearing his ESAA Cleveland t-shirt from 2005 when he competed

Inter Girls 1500m In her current form, as she’s shown at the recent BMC meetings, hopes were high for our Under 17 star, India Pentland. Her heat on the Friday was the slower of the two, but she finished a comfortable 3rd in 4:36.39 ( the first 4 crossing the line within 0.2s of each other!), and easily qualified for Saturday’s final. Things were looking good. Onto Saturday, and the final. Things started well, a steady pace, nothing India couldn’t handle, then with about 400m to go things started to go wrong, her legs seized up and she couldn’t maintain the pace of the leaders. She eventually finished in 8th place, crossing the line in 4:39.99. Frustratingly, India’s PB is better than the winning time so she was at least a medal contender; it was just one of those awful things that, unfortunately, happened at the biggest race of the season! We know she’s gutted about the result but we’re also confident she’ll come back fighting and be stronger than ever! Well done India!

Senior Girls 1500m The English Schools’ Finals are nothing new for our oldest competitor. Lucy-Erin Hunter has been a regular here over the last few years, and she was back again this year having qualified in the 1500m. The 28 competitors were split into two heats; Lucy-Erin was in the second, slightly quicker heat. She qualified comfortably by finishing 6th in a time of 4:39.99. Up against some top notch competition in the final she finished in 11th place in a time of 4:46.52. A fantastic achievement nonetheless, well done, Lucy-Erin.

Congratulations to all our Junior Harriers taking part. It is a huge achievement just getting to the finals; you have all done your school, county and club proud! Well done to all! If you would like to check out the full results you can do so by clicking here

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