NECCA Cross Country Championships

Juniors Excel At North Easterns Photos courtesy of Stuart Whitman Photography

The picturesque Northumberland countryside was the setting for one of the major events on the North East XC calendar last weekend.

The 114th North Eastern Counties Cross Country Championships were this year hosted by Alnwick Harriers with a difficult course looping round Alnwick Pastures, under the backdrop of Alnwick Castle.

Our Junior Harriers were among hundreds of athletes that formed the 10-race programme, all set to do battle for their club, and maybe even qualify for the Inter-Counties Championships next year.

Under 11’s

There were Under 11 individual races for both the boys and the girls, but we had no entries this time. Hugo Douglas Reeves was planning to run but unfortunately wasn’t very well so couldn’t compete. However, Lottie Graves, although still classed as an Under 11, has actually turned 11 now so had to enter as an Under 13 as it was a championship race – which she did, so more on that shortly.

Under 13 Boys

We had four of our U13 boys taking on the tricky 3000m course today, and as usual it was a very strong team. Alex Boyer is in unstoppable form at the moment, and was one of the firm favourites in this race. He didn’t disappoint, with a very confident run resulting in another outstanding performance. He pulled away to take 1st place in 13:44; a lead of 19 seconds to become a very worthy North East Champion!

It was tremendous to see DHAC’s second top 10 finish of the day in the form of Elwood Kelley; yet again he pulled another impressive performance out of the bag by finishing 9th out of the 61 finishers; he crossed the line in exactly 15:00.

We haven’t seen Harry Lyons running since the National Relay Championships back in early November, so it was great to see him back in action again today. He put in a good shift, working hard and finishing strongly in 16th place in an fantastic time of 15:25.

Completing our quartet was Matthew Vest; after his excellent run at the latest NYSD meeting, it was nice to see him building on that, finishing a very commendable 33rd in a time of 16:50. And with the top three counting towards the team event, our DHAC boys finished an amazing 2nd place – just 9 seconds behind Gateshead Harriers!

Congratulations boys, a tremendous performance!

Under13 Girls

Like the boys, our U13 girls fielded another ‘fab four’ for their race.

Zara Jones has had an outstanding season so far, producing some memorable performances for both club and school. Today she was up against some tough competition – Eden Creasey, Zara’s NYSD rival from Middlesbrough, and Sophie Quinn from Billingham (like Lottie, still classed as an U11, but a real tough cookie!) But Zara had the race of her life!

A real quality performance, showing guts and determination which got her across the line in 1st place in an excellent 15:02; beating Sophie into 2nd place by 1 second and Eden into 3rd! Our second North East Champion!

Our next young Harrier to complete the 3k course was Libby Hammond. Like most of our juniors, Libby has strung together some top performances this season and she added another one here today. She crossed the finish line in 23rd place out of the 65 finishers, in a time of 17:19.

And not far behind Libby were our final two U13’s in 30th and 32nd place. The first of them was Savannah Tarn who battled hard and put in a tremendous effort, crossing the line in an impressive 17:43. Just a few seconds behind, and just as impressive was Lottie Graves. As we mentioned earlier, our U11 Harrier is actually 11 years old now so championship rules say she must run as an U13 here – she does, however, get 3 years in this age group! She had an excellent run in her first NECAA Championships for DHAC, crossing the line in 17:50.

A tremendous performance from all the girls which earned them an excellent 4th place in the team event.

Great job girls, well done!

Under 15 Boys

It’s been good to see James Wilcock competing for the club again, and he was our only Under 15 boy today. He’s impressed us with some really solid performances for both DHAC and school this season, and today he tackled the 4k course with real determination to finish in 15th place out of the 55 taking part; an excellent time too of 16:26.

A tremendous effort, James, well done!

Under 15 Girls

Our regular quartet of Under 15 girls were all back in action again today, and like James, they had the 4k course to contend with.

Marissa Boon is at the top of her game at the moment; she’s had a terrific series of NYSD runs so far, so it was fabulous to see her add another strong performance to her season. She finished in 7th place in a time of 17:38, just a minute behind the winner!

Next up we had Mia Wetherill. Like many this year, her season was interrupted by illness, but she seems to be getting back to her old self with an excellent run today. A convincing performance brought Mia home in 13th place, crossing the line in 18:30.

Not far behind Mia was Macy Kelly. Still in her first year of competing for DHAC, Macy has soon developed into one of our strongest endurance runners, with a string of notable performances to her name. Today she added another to that list, finishing in 19th place in a time of 18:50.

Concluding our fab four is Emily Vest. One of our top Under 15 athletes who’s as comfortable on the track as she is at cross country. Another commendable performance today from Emily, crossing the line in 35th place in a time of 20:59.

A tremendous effort from all the girls today, and one that earned them a fantastic 3rd place in the team event as well.

Congratulations to all!

Under17 Boys

We had three of our top U17 boys running today, with excellent performances from all of them.

Adam & John Russell were the first two to complete the 6k course with top ten finishes from both of them. John showed real strength today, pushing hard to finish just a minute behind the winner in 4th place, in a time of 21:11.

Adam’s race wasn’t quite as straight forward, losing time and places after a fall part way round. Amazingly he still managed to finish in 8th place, crossing the line in 21:42.

And completing the trio was Daniel Boyer who, as always, put in another great shift to finish in 16th place in a time of 22:50.

Some top running from the boys resulting in a tremendous 3rd place in the team event! Well done lads, great effort!

Under17/Under20 Women

At 19 years old, Lucy-Erin Hunter isn’t exactly a junior anymore, but she ran such a terrific race we thought we’d mention it anyway.

Up against some tough competition, she ran a commanding race over the 5.2k course and took 1st place in a time of 19.06. An impressive performance, well done Lucy-Erin!

And at this point we should also mention last year’s NECAA Champion, India Pentland. For the last six months she’s been out of action due to an unfortunate series of injury and illness. We’re pleased to report India is now on the mend and gradually building up her fitness levels so she can compete again. We wish you well, India, and look forward to seeing you in action again soon!☺

Overall, an incredible performance from our Juniors with some outstanding individual and team performances.

You have, once again, done yourselves and your club proud! Huge congrats to all who took part. #UTH!

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