NA Cross Country Relays Championships 2018

Lincoln Wellington were without a number of their ‘big guns’ in defence of their senior men and women’s Northern Athletics Cross-Country Relay titles. Over the same Graves Park, Sheffield course Lincoln had come out on top for the past three years in the women’s 3×2-mile contest while the men claimed victory last year and also in 2016 in the four-stage event. This time round, however, the men didn’t make it onto the podium while the women had to be content with the runners-up awards.
The women were first in action and it was Rotherham, winners in 2014, who were immediately in pole position thanks to Natasha Haswell whose 11min 57sec clocking was to prove the second fastest overall of the day.
Leeds City (Georgia Malir) were in second place followed by Sale (Emma Tiley) with Lincoln Wellington (Rochelle Harrison) reaching the changeover in seventh place, 33 seconds adrift of the leaders.
Rotherham (Nicole Devine) extended their advantage on leg two with Liverpool (Hannah Delaney) moving into second place as Lincoln Wellington (Laura Wilkinson) moved into a medal position for the first time.
At that point Rotherham had a lead of 54 seconds over the Merseysiders with Lincoln Wellington a further three seconds adrift in third place.
Despite having a huge deficit to make up Abbie Donnelly (Lincoln Wellington) set off in determined mood and while she eased ahead of Liverpool (Jessica Cook) she had no chance of reeling in Rotherham’s Lori Handbury who brought the Yorkshire outfit home clear by 23 seconds with Donnelly, now in second place, being rewarded with the third quickest time of the day, the quickest being posted by Lydia Turner who brought Birtley through from 14th on the last leg to finish in eighth position.
The battle for third place went right to the wire and it was Rotherham’s second string of Samantha Hughes, Stephanie Burns and Emma Parkinson who got the better of Hallamshire (Charlotte Ward, Hannah Fletcher and Nicola Squires) by just two seconds.
However, Hallamshire were awarded the Northern Athletics bronze medals with Rotherham receiving the first B team awards.
In the senior men’s contest Preston were only headed on one occasion as they claimed their first-ever victory. Daniel Bebbington gave the eventual champions the perfect base by handing over in first place with his time of 9:51 being the second quickest of the day.
Leeds City (Ossama Meslek, third quickest on the day) were second followed by Derby (Sam Johnson) and City of Sheffield and Dearne’s Jonathan Shields.
Leeds moved into the lead on stage two thanks to Matt Grieve as Preston (Chris Durney) dropped back to second ahead of Liverpool (Adualqani Sharif).
However, Preston were back in control on the penultimate stage thanks to Tiaman Croken as Thomas Rogerson moved Liverpool up into second ahead of Derby’s Joseph Kilgour who were in a medal position for the first time.
There was no doubting the outcome when Patrick Dever took over for Preston to contest the glory leg. Despite having a big advantage Dever didn’t hold back and he was rewarded with the fastest time of the day as Preston crossed the line 23 seconds clear of Derby (Richard Weir) with Liverpool (Aaron Jarvis) hanging onto third place ahead of local outfit City of Sheffield (Tommy Horton).
Liverpool were awarded the B team medals after finished in sixth place as title holders Lincoln Wellington came home in ninth place.

JUNIOR RELAYS
The under-17 age group opened the programme and it was a Greater Manchester double with Sale Harriers scoring a comfortable victory in the men’s and Trafford AC claiming success in the women’s, both contests over three 2.3k stages.
In the women’s relay Matlock were the early leaders thanks to Elsbeth Grant whose 8:04 was the second quickest of the day.
Salford were in second place followed by Derby with eventual winners Sale back in seventh place.
Salford moved into the lead on leg two with Rotherham now in second place as Stephanie Moss moved Sale up to third.
On the final leg Lara Crawford, with the quickest time of the day, one second faster than Grant, brought Sale home to victory, 18 seconds clear of Salford with Rotherham picking up the bronze awards.
Leeds City (Ethan Hussey, second fastest overall) were the early leaders in the men’s relay followed by Trafford (Joseph Bentall, third quickest) and Middlesbrough’s Archie Lowe.
On stage two Tommy Dorsey moved Leeds into pole position with Warrington (Jordan Jones) in second place followed by Hallamshire’s James Hartley as Trafford dropped out of a podium spot.
Things changed dramatically on the final leg and it was Trafford who were celebrating as Cynog Williams, with the fastest time of the day, brought his team home to top the podium.
Hallamshire also improved into second place as Leeds dropped back to finish third.
The under-15 contests were over a distance of 2k and topping the podium were Hallamshire, who won the girls relay and Vale Royal who came out on top in the boys.
Gateshead (Ines Curran, second quickest of the day) led on leg one followed by Hallamshire’s Annie Taylor and Birtley’s Katie Francis.
Eventual winners Hallamshire moved into the lead on leg two thanks to Emma Shipley as Gabrielle Hodson moved Chorley up to second from seventh. Abigail Thwaites kept Birtley in third position.
Ruby Simpson extended Hallamshire’s advantage on the run to the line to finish 46 seconds clear of Chorley’s Olivia Leigh as Holly Weedall, with the fastest time of the day, brought Vale Royal, who were 28th at the end of leg one, into bronze medal position after moving through from ninth place.
Chris Perkins, with the fastest time of the day, had Birtley leading at the end of the first leg of the boys contest. Rotherham (Joshuadaniel Wragg) were in second place followed by Trafford’s Jack McNichol and Vale Royal’s Patrick Griffith.
Derby, thanks to Ernie Cresswell, moved into the lead on leg two followed by Vale Royal (Jake Wilson) and Rotherham’s Sam Gibson.
The lead changed for a final time on the last leg as William Ashfield brought Vale Royal home 10 seconds clear of Wirral AC’s Daniel Hayes as Finlay Mayoh brought Stockport into a medal position at the right time to finish in third place.
Lancaster and Morecambe, who finished in 13th place, had the second fastest athlete on view in Ryhs Ashton.
The under-13 relays were over a distance of 1.8k and it was Stockport and Barnsley who came out on top.
Holmfirth were the early leaders in the girls contest thanks to the fastest time of the day by Imogen Wolff as Rotherham (Olivia Bell) came to the changeover in second place followed by Vale Royal’s Alice Gale.
Eventual champions Stockport took over the leadership on stage two thanks to Sophie Elwood as Hallamshire moved into second place ahead of Yorkshire rivals Rotherham.
The positions remained the same on the final leg with Freya Murdoch’s second fastest time of the day bringing Stockport home with a 12-second margin over Hallamshire who held off Rotherham by five seconds to claim the silver medals.
City of Sheffield’s Zak Ferguson, with the equal fastest time of day, led at the first changeover of the boys event followed by Wirral (Alex Poulson) and Lincoln Wellington’s Henry Samkin.
On stage two Jack Spark, who equalled Zak Ferguson’s time, moved Sale into the lead ahead of City of Sheffield with Lincoln Wellington consolidating third place.
However, it was Barnsley who moved through on the final lege to claim victory thanks to Jonson Hughes as Sale (Jack Batten) dropped back into second and James Harney moving East Cheshire up into third place as Lincoln Wellington and City of Sheffield dropped out of contention.
The under-11 contests were over a distance of 1.5k and it was Keighley and Craven who came out on top in the girls contest and Wirral in the boys.
Keighley and Craven, with Maisey Bellwood the quickest overall on the day, finished eight seconds ahead of Hallamshire – Annabelle Sibley their quickest – as Rotherham, with Katie Battle their best, claiming the bronze awards.
Wirral, whose Ben Cronshaw and Oberon Kearney were joint third fastest on the day, – Dominic Poulston was their third member – were comfortable winners of the boys relay as City of Sheffield and Dearne, who had joint fastest William Platts in their trio, finished runners-up three seconds ahead of Sale.
The other joint fastest athlete on view was Warrington’s Jack Marwood who had his team in the lead at the first changeover before they slipped back to finish in sixth position. Results

Bill McGuirk

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