A strong South Yorkshire team will be title-hunting at the Northern Cross Country Championships at St Helens tomorrow.
Hallamshire defend their senior women’s title spearheaded by Hatti Archer and Lizzie Browne, both former Northern winners.
They were the leading Hallamshire runners in last year’s race along with Zanthe Wray. With four to count and Nicola Squires and Charlotte Ward among their entries, they will be difficult to beat but Rotherham and Leeds City could be their biggest challengers. Rotherham were champions two years ago.
More recently they took the Yorkshire title with a counting quartet of Zara Knappy, Emma Parkinson, Steph Burns and Fiona Davies.
A huge boost to their chances is the acquisition of Sophie Cowper, fourth in last year’s Northern in the colours of Lincoln Wellington. With Samantha Johnson, their top runner in last year’s Northern, Jessica Fawcett, Annabelle Grady, Natasha Hatswell, Alina Stepanchuk and Lizzie Hutson all entered, it is doubtful whether any club in the North can match Rotherham’s depth.
In the men’s race, Hallamshire, third last year, and this year’s Yorkshire winners, will make a strong bid for medals again.
Steve Bayton, Dave Archer and Bertie Houghton led them in the Yorkshire. Their number one runner, Andy Heyes, did not run the Yorkshire, but the Northern figures in his plans and if he runs he should be a contender for an individual medal as well as giving Hallamshire a tremendous boost. Rob Little and Pete Hodges, from last year’s counting six, are entered again and so, too, is Tom Horton.
If they all turn out, Hallamshire could be champions, especially as Leeds are not the force they once were.
Connor Milnes and Wyatt Hill were counters in Hallam’s Yorkshire winning team but at Northern level they are in the junior age group.
Jonathan Shields, second last year, will be hoping for one better this time whilst Joe Massingham (Rotherham) should also be well placed. Connor Henderson is a strong contender at under 17 level and heads a strong City of Sheffield and Dearne squad whilst Barnsley’s Scott Nutter is the leading South Yorkshire prospect in the under 15 section. In the youngest age group, under 13, Joseph Currie (Chesterfield) and Jed Darley (Hallamshire) should be prominent.
In the under 17 women’s race, Yorkshire champion Mya Taylor leads a powerful Rotherham team whilst Jodie Hill leads a strong Hallamshire squad at under 15 level. Hallamshire defend their under 13 girls title led by Ruby Simpson.