AFTER deliberating for nearly three hours, the county selectors have named strong squads for the UK CAU Inter-Counties Cross-Country Championships on Saturday, March 4 which return to Pretswold Hall, Loughborough once again.
Twelve months ago the North East had two individual champions in Wallsend’s Sam Charlton and Darlington’s India Pentland and both will don a county vest once again albeit in an older age group.
As well as celebrating two gold medallists the region also had a silver medallist- Rory Leonard (Morpeth) – and a bronze medallist in Middlesbrough Mandale’s Josh Cowperthwaite.
However, while it’s not all about making it onto the podium, it will be great experience for many who will be making their county debut.
Team managers’ Stewy Bell and Lynn Cooper are cautiously optimistic on how their charges will perform on the big stage though many of the senior athletes have experienced the Inter-Counties on numerous occasions.
Bell, a NE representative many times, had this to say after the teams were finalised: ‘’It’s a great honour to represent your county in, what I believe is the major cross-country championships of the year. While we have a strong senior men’s squad with Carl Avery and Calum Johnson, the NE and Northern champions respectively, leading the way it’s to the younger age groups who I think have the best chance of success.’’
Women’s team manager Cooper was equally excited about the prospect of seeing the region’s top youngsters perform against the best athletes in the country. ‘Enjoying the experience is vitally important which, of course, could be the stepping stone for greater things in the future,’’ said Lynn. ‘’We have some very talented young athletes in the North East and lining up in the Inter-Counties is invaluable if they want to go on and achieve greater things.’’
The senior women’s team has a good chance of also making it onto the podium with seasoned international Kate Avery (Shildon) currently heading the UK Cross Challenge and she will be joined in the team by NE champion Sonia Samuels (Sale) and former Elswick athlete Philippa Williams who now competes for Sheffield AC and will be making her NE senior debut.
*Would-be spectators are more than welcome to make the trip and support the teams. There is an overnight stay leaving Newcastle at 5pm on Friday while a second coach sets of from Newcastle on Saturday morning at 6.30am. Both coaches have pick-up points on the A1 corridor. The price of travel is £10. Anyone interested please get in touch with either Stewy Bell or Lynn Cooper.
HOW THE NORTH EASTERN COUNTIES WILL LINE UP
SENIOR WOMEN (10,000m): Sonia Samuels (Sale), Philippa Stone (Midd/Mand), Catirina McDonald (Morp), Kate Avery (Shild), Philippa Williams (Sheff), Danielle Smythe (Heat), Georgia Campbell (J&H), Amy Fuller (Elsw) and Hannah Plaschkes (Darl).
JUNIOR WOMEN (6,000m): Chloe Wellings and Amy Baker (both Gates), Eva Hardie (Hough), Laura Havis (Midd/Mand), India Pentland (Darl), Eve Sothern (Birt), Abigail Anderson (Birt) and Eve Quinn (Sund).
UNDER-17 WOMEN (5,000m): Emily Chong (Ch-le-St), Ines Curran (Gates), Tess Graham (Birt), Anna Pigford and Amy Leonard (both Hough), Holly Peck (Morp), Cecelia Reid (Blay) and Kate Salthouse (Tyned).
UNDER-15 GIRLS (4,000m): Katie Francis (Birt), Elle van der Mere and Holly Waugh (both NSP), Millie Breese (Alnw), Lucy Scothern (Ch-le-St), Erin Keeler-Clarke (Hough), Abigail Leiper (Morp) and Marissa Boon (Darl).
UNDER-13 GIRLS (3,000m): Zara Jones (Darl), Sophie Quinn (BillMHse), Eden Creasey (Midd/Mand), Charlotte Dillon (DurC), Poppy Old and Poppy Wilde (both Elsw), Annabel Milburn (Gate) and Annie Hutchinson (Gosf).
SENIOR MEN (10,000m): Carl Avery and Alex Brown (both Morp), Calum Johnson (Gate), Jack Willis and Greg Jayasurya (both M&C), Carl Smith (TyneBr), Cameron Allan (Hough), David Green (NSP) and Kieran Walker (Midd/Mand).
JUNIOR MEN (8,000m): Charlie McMillan (Gate), Sam Charlton (Walls), Daniel Dixon, Daniel Melling and Ross Charlton (all Morp), Josh Cowperthwaite, Jake Creasey and Daniel Currie (all Mid/Mand).
UNDER-17 MEN (6,000m): Archie Lowe (Midd/Mand), Henry Johnson and Will Bellamy (Both Hough), Rowan Bennett and Dylan Gooding (both Morp), Ethan McGlen and Charlie Daley (both Gate) and John Russell (Darl).
UNDER-15 BOYS (4,000m): Chris Perkins (Birt), Josh Blevins, Oliver Douglas and Zak Old (all NSP), Joe Dixon and Ryan Davies (both Morp), Will Collinson (Blay) and Tom Slane (BhillBnds).
UNDER-13 BOYS (3,000m): Alex Bowyer and Harry Lyons (both Darl), Theo Dragio and MatthewDas (both Gate), Zac Brannon (NSP), Matthew Downs (NewMsk), Ethan Marron (Midd/Mand) and Oliver Tomlinson (Morp).
Bill McGuirk is the North East's top athletics correspondent. NECAA Chairman and official, Bill can be found at all local athletics events supporting the sport he loves.