Nike Yorkshire Cross Country ChampionshipsReport by: Bryan Murray
Six Wakefield athletes will represent Yorkshire in the inter-counties championship next month following a string of sterling results in the Nike Yorkshire Cross Country Championships at the University of Leeds campus at Lawnswood.
They are:- Julie O'Mara and Sharon Marshall (senior women); Aine Hoban (U17 women); Lisa Hall, Jasmine Kerry and Elaine Hardbattle (U15 girls).
The first six places in the opening races would guarantee athletes selection for the inter-counties in Nottingham in February. The senior races also doubled as selection trials for the world cross country championships.
The course looked perfect but was incredibly boggy and took its toll on many of the athletes, particularly during the races that were held later in the day.
In the U13 girls' race, Laura Teasdale and Hayley Briscoe found the conditions strength sapping and both struggled to stay in contention with the leaders. Both put in brave efforts, however, to complete the course in 44th and 49th positions respectively.
Four Harriers were involved in the U15 girls' event, and their outstanding team effort gained them a bronze medal. Lisa Hall, Jasmin Kerry, Elaine Hardbattle and Carly Wright stuck to their task in ever-worsening conditions. Hall, Kerry and Hardbattle edged their way into the top 20 places by the midway mark.
Turning for home Hardbattle gained her second wind to push Hall and Kerry after passing five athletes, but her team-mates had the line in sight and finished ninth and tenth respectively with Hardbattle staying on for 15th. Wright finished 22nd from over 60 starters.
Ian Wainwright, Adam Hall and Sam Handforth contested the U15 boys' race. The trio worked hard to maintain a good place but the conditions wore them down in the latter stages. Wainwright was the first Wakefield athlete home in 29th with Hall 30th and Handforth 39th from over 70 runners.
Aine Hoban and Sam Colley contested the U17 women's event. At the start of the last lap three athletes had broken clear with Hoban the third-placed runner. Always looking comfortable, Hoban attacked closer to home first passing Searle (Rowntrees) then just being pipped at the line by Holmfirth Harriers' Spencer. Colley put in one of her best performances of the season to place a commendable 20th from 54 starters.
The senior women's race developed quickly into three groups with Wakefield's Julie O'Mara contesting the first two places and Sharon Marshall around fifth/sixth. O'Mara and Marshall led into the last 100m but both lost out in the final sprint finish with the Wakefield pair having to settle for second and third respectively.
Penny Thackray was absent owing to international duties but is already entered into the short-course race at Nottingham next month.