This years Lancashire Schools Cross Country Championships took place at Witton Park on Saturday February 4th – the third cross country championship in the last five weeks which has seen the Lancashire Cross Country Championships, the Northern Cross Country Championships and now the County Schools Champioinships hosted at one of the best cross country courses around. With English Schools selection the prize for those who finished in the first 8 places, there was plenty to play for in those races which counted for selection.
Blackburn Harriers athletes had a pretty good day, their 36 athletes winning 4 County titles in the Senior Boys (David Holman), Senior Girls (Abigail Stratton), Yr 7 Boys (Jack Baranowski), Junior Boys (Sam Aspey), taking 2 runner up spots Junior Girls (Agatha Taylor), Inter-Boys (Daniel Smith) – and potentially up to 13 athletes selected for the English Schools Championships.
The first race for Senior Boys & Girls was a small field involving 13 Boys and 14 Girls. Blackburn Harriers athletes won both races – David Holman (Blackburn Schools) taking the County title in a time of 23.42 from Tom Bowman (Blackpool) 23.47 and Max Holden (Hyndburn) 23.49. Codie Dewhurst placed 9th in the Boys race in a time of 26.31. Abigail Stratton (Burnley Schools) won the Girls race in 14.52 from Gabrielle Hodson (South Ribble) 15.01 and Kirsty Maher (Lancaster) 15.02. Kiera Haxton (Burnley) came 7th (16.25), Kiera Booth (Burnley) 19.07 and Eva Knowles (Blackburn) 20.26.
Real contrast in the next two races for Yr 7 Girls and Yr 7 Boys – 72 youngsters in the Girls race and 61 in the Boys. Blackburn Harriers Charlotte Smith, Isabelle Pawson, Hetty Green, Charlotte Rothwell and Alexa Hunt all went in this race which saw Charlotte Smith (Hyndburn) finish in 18th spot (9.50). Isabella (Blackburn) was next home in 32nd place running 10.22 with Hetty (Blackburn) 40th (10.32), Charlotte Rothwell (South Ribble) 10.40 in 47th and Alexa (Blackburn) 52nd with a time of 10.47. Jack Baranowski (Blackburn) was a clear winner in the Boys race coming home in a time of 7.56 from Oliver McBurney (Fylde) in 2nd (8.09) and Sam Bates (South Ribble) in 3rd 8.11.
The Junior Girls race featured 61 runners – seven of whom were from Blackburn Harriers. Agatha Taylor (Hyndburn) had a very good run to take 2nd spot overall in 13.55 behind Kristy Leitch (Wyre) in 1st (13.47). Lottie Hesketh (Pendle) had a fine run too as she finished in 5th spot (14.05) as did Emma Robertshaw (Hyndburn) one place further back in 6th running 14.13. Hannah Davies (Blackburn) was next to cross the finish line in 21st place (15.44) followed by Tamzin Osborne (Hyndburn) in 39th (16.26), Lottie Smith (Hyndburn) running 16.32 in 41st and Lily Green (Blackburn) in 55th place (17.38).
Forty seven runners in the Inter-Boys race including seven athletes from Blackburn Harriers. Daniel Smith (South Ribble) commited right from the start and the race soon developed into a battle between himself and fellow South Ribble athlete Matthew Clark. In the latter stages of the race, Clark opened up a lead to finish winning comfortably in 17.50 with Daniel taking the runner up position with a really determined run (18.15). Just behind him in 4th and 5th came two more Blackburn Harriers – Oliver Gill (Hyndburn) 4th running 19.19 and Jack Lamb (Chorley) in 5th with a time of 19.26. Logan McCredie (Pendle) was the next to finish in 14th position in a time of 21.08 with Ethan Cutler (South Ribble) in 28th (22.41), Joel Duncan (Blackburn) running 23.11 (36th) and George Ramsden (Blackburn) 24.12 in 45th spot.
Slightly more runners in the Inter-Girls race – fifty five in total with five of them from Blackburn Harriers. The race was won by Ava Jones (Preston) in 15.50 with Poppy Watson (South Ribble) in 2nd (15.59) and Sarah Yates (West Lancs) in 3rd place (16.07. Charlotte Robertshaw (Hyndburn) ran so well to place 4th overall in a time of 16.23 with Isabella Pacelli in 18th position (18.04). Erin McKinley (Blackburn) came 38th in a time of 21.08 with Connie Humes (South Ribble) in 41st (21.22) and Zoe Green (Rossendale) running 22.58 in 49th place.
Final race of the day saw sixty five boys line up in the Junior Boys race, six of them being from Blackburn Harriers. Sam Aspey (South Ribble) declared his intentions right from the start coming straight across the course from the right hand side to take the lead which he never relinquished, coming home as county schools champion in a time of 13.55 from Henry Ward (Chorley) in 2nd (14.23) and Tom Jepson (West Lancs) in 3rd (14.28). Kieran Hamilton (Blackburn) was next across the line in 10th position (14.58) with Jack Wood (Hyndburn) one place behind in 11th (15.03). Theo Robinson also representing Hyndburn came 14th in 15.19 followed in by Alex Rothwell (South Ribble) 19th in a time of 15.42 and Liam Bennison (Blackburn) 24th (15.58).