The domestic cross country season ended with the final North East Harrier League at Alnwick on Saturday. However, there is still a lot to play for some of our young athletes as we have 7 runners (and 3 first reserves) who have qualified to represent Northumberland at the National English Schools Cross Country Championships at Temple Newsam, Leeds on 16th March.

On top of this we also have 2 athletes who have qualified to compete at the National Minor Schools Cross Country Championships at Loughborough on 23rd March.

For most, the schools cross country season started way back in November at the North Tyneside Championships at our very own Churchill Playing Fields. It was then onto the Northumberland Championships at Temple Park, South Shields, where a top 16 placing seen athletes qualify for the Northern Inter Counties Championships, again held at Temple Park, where they would go up against the best from Durham, Cleveland, Cumbria and North Yorkshire. The Northumberland selectors then chose their top 8 from the two Temple Park races to represent the County at the ‘English Schools’.


Junior Boys

Josh Blevins

Josh goes into the English Schools unbeaten after 3 wins out of 3. Using the North Tyneside Champs as a training run he went into the Northumberland Schools as hot favourite and didn’t disappoint with a comfortable win. His Northumberland victory was backed up with another win at the Inter Counties.


Oliver Douglass

It was a tougher route for Oliver who competed at Northumberland Schools full of cold. A 9th place finish meant that he had it all to do at the Inter Counties. With the pressure on Oliver showed true grit and determination and finished a magnificent 3rd overall to secure his spot.


Zak Old

Zak is one of our newest members and most of his success must be put down to the magnificent work that his former club, Elswick Harriers, have done. However, after a few tough cross country sessions at the Rising Sun with Josh, Oliver and the gang, Zak gained selection comfortably. Fifth place at the Northumberland Championships and then outsprinting Oliver for 2nd place at the Inter Counties means our club goes into the English Schools with arguably the 3 top Junior Boys in the County.


L-R: Oliver, Josh and Zak head to the English Schools full of confidence


Junior Girls

Holly Waugh

Holly has gone from strength to strength this season and is now established as one of the County’s top female young athletes. In a very strong age category Holly finished 3rd at the Northumberland Championships and 19th (3rd Northumberland) at the Inter Counties.


Ellie Van der Merwe

More known for her exploits in triathlon, Ellie is one of the region’s top runners and known for her grit and never-say-die attitude. Ellie finished 8th at the Northumberland Schools so still had work to do at the Inter Counties to confirm to the selectors that she was worthy of a place. She didn’t disappoint as she finished 32nd overall but more importantly 5th Northumberland counter.


Willow Morris

Willow has only been a NSP member since December but has gone from strength to strength. She finished 7th at the Northumberland Championships but was struck down with bad flu at the Inter Counties and had to withdraw beforehand, hoping that her previous form was enough to gain selection. After careful deliberation it was decided that Willow’s run at the County Champs, as well as at the harrier leagues and North Eastern Championships, was enough to put her through, much to her delight (you could hear the screams of delight from Jesmond to Whitley Bay!).


L – R: Holly, Willow and Ellie, almost half the County team is North Shields Poly


Katie Joslyn – 1st reserve

Although slightly disappointed not to gain automatic selection after 11th at the Northumberland Championships and 9th counter at the Inter Counties, Katie can take solace in the fact that she is a bottom year in the age group and still has another year in this age category. Katie was Northumberland Year 7 Champion last year and has been in great form since the turn of the year. Watch this space….


Inter Girls

Kirsty Nash – 1st reserve

At the time of writing, Kirsty is in the form of her life and if the Championship races had of been in the last couple of weeks then there would be no doubt that she would be in the County team and on the coach to Leeds. As a bottom year Inter Girl Kirsty finished 9th at the Northumberland Championships and put herself right in the frame. However, an off day at the Inter Counties meant that a reserve place was won. Like Katie, next year will surely be her year when she is at the top end of the age group.


Senior Girls

Issy Robinson

This will be Issy’s third English Schools. Issy is firmly established as one of the top female young runners around. The Phil Hayes’ coached athlete comfortably qualified for the Inter Counties with 4th place at the Northumberland Championships. The Inter Counties race seen an incredible act of sportsmanship as Issy gave up her own race to help another athlete. Seeing a fellow rival in distress after taking a fall, Issy stopped to help her and thus sacrificed her own race. This amazing gesture did not go unrewarded and Issy gained selection.


Issy goes to the English Schools for the 3rd time


Cara Blight – 1st reserve

Cara really has stepped up a level this season and the English Schools was probably the last thing on her mind when the cross country races started late last year. However, two solid runs at the two Championship races meant that Cara only just missed out on selection.


L-R: Katie, Kirsty and Cara, all 1st years, only just miss out


Minor Schools Championships

The English Schools Championships are held for school years 8 upwards. However, there is a Championship for Year 7 athletes and we have three athletes selected for this.


In a team of 12, Benjamin Maley and Caitlyn Davies gain their first County honours to race at Prestwold Hall, Loughborough. Benjamin finished 10th at both the Northumberland Championships and Inter Counties. Benjamin certainly is following in the footsteps of his parents Carla and Sean. Carla is a Masters Cross Country International and Sean boasts some of the best track PBs of any Poly member, past or present.

Caitlyn is another athlete who is going from strength to strength. Despite her small frame, you won’t find many tougher athletes. She finished 6th at the Northumberland Championships and then was 7th Northumberland counter at the Inter Counties.


County honours for Caitlyn and Benjamin


Daniel Turnbull from Steve Turner’s group has also been selected to represent Northumberland.


With so much going on at the club and with so many disciplines that our members excel at, the success of our young athletes can sometimes go under the radar. It’s important that we develop our young talent but also celebrate the success they gain along the way.


We congratulate all those that gained selection and wish all those involved the very best of luck at the upcoming Championships.


Onwards and Upwards!



Lee Morgan