Nike Yorkshire Cross Country ChampionshipsReport by: Bryan Murray
Wakefield Harriers were in recent high-profile action at the Nike Yorkshire Cross Country Championships that included an U17 men's triumph and a junior women's bronze for the club.
The tournament was switched from Halifax to Rotherham at short notice because of course conditions in the Calderdale area.
Conditions in Rotherham were almost ideal, the sun shone for most of the day while underfoot was soft with only a few heavy going patches. But the undulating ing course tested all the athletes.
First race on the programme was the U13 girls' 3000m. The event was won by Laura Kirk (Skyrac) but the next nine places were very close at the finish.
Jasmine Kerry (Wakefield Harriers) just failed to snatch a county medal in her first season at the county championships. Kerry had to settle for fourth place. Showing determination all the way round the course, Kerry left her main effort with about 400 metres to go. She passed four athletes in the run-in to the finish. Team-mate Jan Faulkner found the course very difficult but managed to finish 33rd
The U15 boys' race was competed over a longer course of 4500m. Sam Hainsworth was Wakefield's representative. A late starter, Hainsworth is improving with each outing and finished 30th this time out.
The U 15 girls' 4000m race boasted 48 competitors so Wakefield's team had to finish in the top group to take any medals.
Carly Wright, Sam Colley and Zoe Gowland all packed together over the country. Amy Fozzard and Lucy Martin faded over the remaining part of the race. In the end Holmfirth Harriers snatched the third team with 42 points to Wakefield's 54. Result: Wright 16th, Colley 18th, Gowland 20th, Fozzard 26th, Martin 35th.
Senior and junior women's races were held over a distance of 6000m. Alice Butler and Elaine Twigg were Wakefield's representatives in the senior race and Laura Sheard in the junior event.
The senior title went to Julie Ingham (Barnsley) with the hard-working Butler in 25th place and Twigg in 33rd spot. Sheard, with the advantage of running with the seniors, really dug in during the race and was rewarded with a bronze medal.
The U17 men's race was over 6000m and included three Wakefield athletes among the 45 starters. Paul Lockwood, just back from the US where he has been training at high altitude, saw his winter programme pay off. He took a group of eight athletes from halfway and forced the pace at the start of a long hill, that tested every competitor in every race to the limit. Alex Senior, the second Wakefield athlete, was hanging on in eighth place.
Lockwood went on to win the county title by 50 metres with Senior holding on to his eighth position. Steve Faulkner found the pace just a little too quick and had to settle for 32nd.
The U17 women's race was over 4500m. Wakefield's Becky Fender and Aine Hoban were the club's only entrants.
The pair, who kept in contention for Yorkshire team selection, entered the long, downhill finish locked in fifth and sixth respectively. Fender took a ten-metre advantage but Hoban fought back to get on her team-mates shoulder once again at the finish line.