Juniors Bring Home The Bling From Pontefract

Hundreds of athletes from Under 13’s to Seniors descended upon Pontefract last weekend as ‘Northern Athletics’ held their annual premier cross country competition. The popular North of England XC Championships attracted clubs from Alnwick to Ambleside, from Richmond to Rotherham, and the best of their endurance athletes were out in force.
There was an excellent turnout from our Junior Harriers across all age groups, all ready to take up the challenge.

Under 13 Boys It’s a busy time for our cross country runners at the moment. All the Under 13 Boys here today ran the same time last week at the Durham County Schools XC, and several of them made it through to the Inter-Counties which are this time next week! After his outstanding performance at Barnard Castle, Alex Boyer was out to impress again here – which of course he did, crossing the line in an excellent 14th place in a time of 10:19 (the same time as his old NYSD advisory, Josh Hammet from R&Z) and only 28 seconds behind the winner!

Only 10 seconds behind Alex was DHAC team mate, Daniel Richardson. He attacked this 3k course in his usual manner to produce another impressive performance, finishing in 21st place in 10:29; an amazing achievement at this level of competition! Next up was another of our Inter-County qualifiers, Elwood Kelley. Elwood has certainly established himself as a very talented endurance runner over the last year or so, and he proved that again today. He crossed the finish line in an impressive 88th place out of the 200 starters in an excellent time of 11:17.

Not far behind Elwood was team mate, Josh Scott. Josh’s improvement this season has been great to see, and he put in another solid run here today. He crossed the line in a very respectable 114th place in a time of 11:34. Just a few places behind Josh was the next blue & white vest, this time worn by Louis Brett. Another tremendous effort from Louis took him over the line in 117th place, in a time of 11:38. And finally, another top run from another young DHAC talent, Matthew Vest. Matthew put in a first-rate effort today against some tough competition, finishing in 166th place in 12:25.

A fantastic effort from all our Under 13 Boys, so much so they also finished a very creditable 10th in the team event, and the 1st of the North East teams, so congratulations to you all! It’s also worth pointing out that all but Daniel are still in Year 7, the youngest of this age category, so we’re quietly confident there’s even better to come from this bunch yet! Our other Year 8 athlete, Dylan Wilson, who is always a strong contender, was unable to run today due to a foot injury he picked up after the Durham County Schools XC. Here’s to a speedy recovery, Dylan!

Also worthy of a mention here is our Cleveland County Schools Champion, Libby Hammond. She was the only Harrier planning to compete in the Under 13 Girls race today but fell ill on the way down to the event. She even walked the course and tried a few short runs to warm up, but all to no avail. After visiting the doctor she was diagnosed with a chest infection! Hope you’re doing well, Libby – we’re all keeping fingers crossed you’llbe ok for the Inter-Countyrace

Under 15 Boys We had three of our junior boys competing in the Under 15 age category today. The first two we know very well, and where one goes you can always find the other; twin brothers, Adam and John Russell. Since joining Darlington Harriers last year, the boys have soon established themselves as quality athletes, always a force to be reckoned with, and now with an impressive string of results behind them.

As always, they both worked hard today against some tough competition and it was Adam who crossed the line first in 35th place in a time of 13:34. It’s always a close run thing between these two and today was no exception as John completed the 4k course just 12 seconds behind his brother in 49th place. Both boys were a little disappointed with their performances, but some days it just doesn’t go your way; a fantastic effort all the same, so well done to both. Next up, another new member to welcome to Darlington Harriers, Max Pearson. This was his first outing for the club – talk about in at the deep end! We don’t know much about Max yet but he put on a tremendous performance for his debut run, finishing in 146th place out of the 200 runners in an excellent time of 15:07. Well done Max, great to have you on board and look forward to seeing youback again soon!

Under 15 Girls Two of our regular Under 15 competitors were back again for more today; Mia Wetherill and Emily Vest, and as with many of our juniors this is still their first year at this age category, so exciting times ahead! This was the first time at the Northern Championships for Mia, so a great experience for her. As always she put in a strong performance and completed the 4k course in 84th place in a time of 15:51. Emily was here last year as an Under 13 and, as she did then, she gave it maximum effort today finishing in 161st place out of the 196 overall…..an excellent time too of 17:14. Great stuff girls, well done to both

Under 17 Boys There were two of our juniors competing here, and yet again, their first time at this event as Under 17 athletes. It was never going to be easy running against the older competition, but as you would expect, Dan Boyer and James Roberts both gave it their all. Dan was the first of them to complete the 6.3k course in a very respectable 45th place, crossing the line in 21:20. Just a couple of minutes later James finished just outside the top 100 in 101st place, in a time of 23:22. Well done to both lads; we’re looking forward to seeing how they do next year

Strong runs from both our Under 17 Boys: Dan (far left) and James (left)

Under 17 Girls This one had all the makings of a great race, with some of DHAC’s most talented and experienced athletes, up against some of the best that the North of England has to offer. A classic, you might say. After struggling to find her best form following a knee injury early in the season, India Pentland is now flying! If you read last week’s report you’ll have seen how she dominated the schools County Championship race, winning by an incredible margin; a repeat of that kind of form today would be tremendous.

From the gun, India made sure she was up with the front runners, and as she settled into her pace it wasn’t too long before she and the City of Sheffield athlete pulled away from the main pack. Eventually, India showed her strength, taking the lead and the gap between the two gradually increased. She pushed on, working hard to maintain the lead, finally crossing the line in a time of 17:17 as the North of England Champion!! Another outstanding performance to add to India’s already impressive record.

Next up was Catherine Roberts. Unfortunately she missed out on the Durham Schools Championship because of an injury, but she came out fighting here today. Determined to put in a strong performance she worked really hard today and crossed the line in an excellent 16th place in a time of exactly 19:00. Our third Harrier to complete the 5k course was Ellie Phillips. In last week’s report we mentioned that we hadn’t seen much of Ellie this season and assumed it was down to studying for her ‘A’ Levels. Her Dad, Martin, has kindly been in touch and told us, although she’s been studying hard, the main reason she hadn’t been competing was due to shin splints and a stress fracture. Ouch!! All’s well now though and she’s getting back to the Ellie we know. She put in a great effort today and finished in 50th place, in an excellent time of 20:30.

Next up, and the 4th harrier to cross the line was Megan Noble – another member of the team who has had her share of injury problems in the past, but today produced another gutsy performance to finish in 82nd place in a time of 22:04. And finally Millie Grayson who is still in her first year of this age group. Never one to shy away from the big races, she’s competed many a time against the seniors in the NYSD series this season. Today she ran with great determination to finish in 100th place in a field of 289 athletes, crossing the line in 23:45. Definitely one to watch for next year! Well doneto all five girls, a fantastic overall performance!

With the first four counting towards the team event, India, Catherine, Ellie and Megan were also awarded 2nd place for DHAC!! They were just 5 points ahead of 3rd placed team Houghton, so it just goes to show every position you can fight for in these big races count! An amazing result girls, well deserved

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