Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Girls Gallop to Racecourse Victory; Birtley's Fab Four Secure Title Glory in Pontefract JUNIOR ATHLETICS

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Girls Gallop to Racecourse Victory; Birtley's Fab Four Secure Title Glory in Pontefract JUNIOR ATHLETICS

Article excerpt

Byline: Bill McGuirk Athletics writer bill_mcuirk@yahoo.com

BIRTLEY athletes went one better than last year when they stormed to an impressive under-17 team victory at the Northern Cross-Country Championships at Pontefract Racecourse.

Twelve months ago the Gateshead-based outfit played second fiddle to Vale Royal.

This time round there was no doubting who would top the podium with superb packing not only from the scoring quartet but also the rest of the athletes who made the trip to Yorkshire.

Leading the way for Birtley was Kate Waugh, winner of the under-15 title on the same course in 2012.

On this occasion she had to give way to Warrington's GB junior international Harriet Knowles-Jones. Forty-five seconds separated the pair at the finish, though the Birtley girl still has another year at under-17 while the winner moves into the under-20 age group.

At one stage it looked as though Waugh would be joined on the podium by team-mate Sophie Burnett, who had moved into third place entering the final 800 metres of the 5k contest.

However, with the finish line fast approaching, Scarborough's Emma Clapton managed to regain third place to relegate Burnett into fourth place just four seconds adrift.

Last year Burnett crossed the line in seventh place so to finish fourth this time round has to be a step in the right direction.

Completing Birtley's scoring four were Phillippa Chambers in 12th place and Katie Gunn, who came home in 18th spot.

That gave Birtley a total of 36 points - 50 points clear of Stockport with third-placed Warrington picking up the bronze awards.

In case any of the leading foursome had an off day, Amber Leigh showed the strength in depth of Birtley's youngsters by finishing in 27th place.

Middlesbrough's Phillippa Stone claimed seventh place with Gateshead's Elle Mahon 20th.

Also inside the top 50 were South Shields' Franki Salter (44th), Morpeth's Charlotte Jewell (47th) and Sunderland's Jessica Fox (49th).

In the under-15 boys' event, New Marske's Reece Curtis secured silver-medal position, eight seconds behind Merseysider Daniel Slater while Morpeth's Kieran Hedley just missed out joining him at the medal ceremony by finishing fourth.

The North East had strong representation in the race with Josh Cowperthwaite in fifth position and Middlesbrough team-mate Joshua Allen coming home in 13th place. …

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