A splendid title-winning triumph by Skipton Girls’ High School’s Katie Atkinson highlighted a spirited challenge by Cravens’ athletes in the North Yorkshire Schools cross-country finals which took place at Tadcaster on Saturday.

All the competitors had earned their places through their respective regional championships.

For the Craven participants this was the recent Harrogate-Craven event that was staged at Giggleswick.

Saturday’s races represented a much stiffer overall assignment but Atkinson, contesting the year 7 girls event, was soon at the head of the field.

She maintained her mom- entum to storm home well clear at the finish.

Katie will now lead North Yorkshire’s challenge in the North Regional Inter-counties event next month in Durham.

She will be joined by five other athletes from Craven who also performed commendably last Saturday to finish in the qualifying top 12 in that same race.

This competitive quintet consist of Maddie Rockliffe-King, of Giggleswick, who finished fourth, Ruby Schofield (Skipton Girls High) fifth, Connie Rockliffe-King (Giggleswick), seventh, and Emily Jones and Angelina Bairstow (both Skipton Girls’ High), who finished tenth and 12th respectively.

A trio of year 7 boys from Ermysted’s also impressed to earn their county colours at Durham.

Will Thompson, who finished fourth, Joel Phillip, seventh, and Jonny Thomp- son, ninth.

For year 7 athletes the Durham fixture is as far as they are able to progress.

For athletes in the older age groups there is also the opportunity of a place in the English Schools finals which this year takes place in March at Castle Donington, Derbyshire.

The top six in each of the older age group races at Tadcaster earned automatic English Schools places.

The remaining two places in the North Yorkshire teams in each age group will be contested within the forthcoming fixture at Durham.

However, one Craven athlete already assured of a place in the English Schools finals is Giggleswick’s Eve Hutchinson who, with another year still at hand in her age group, ran a blinder to finish fourth in the junior girls (Years 8 and 9) race.

Meanwhile, Hutchinson will also figure among North Yorkshire’s teams for the February fixture at Durham where the top 15 from the higher age groups will be in battle.

Nine more athletes from Craven Schools achieved qualifying places as a result of their performances at Tadcaster.

Euan Brennan, Giggles- wick, was 13th and was followed home by the Ermy- sted’s duo of James Lund and Charlie Lowrie, who finished 14th and 15th respectively in the Junior Boys event.

Tilly Melechi of Skipton Girls’ High claimed 12th place in the intermediate girls while Robert Thomp- son and George Moloney, of Ermysted’s were 13th and 14th respectively in the intermediate boys. Ermysted’s also had three qualifiers in the senior boys, Adam Sayedi, Sam Laycock and Chris Kemp, who finished 12th, 13th and 14th.

There have been better overall results from Craven in the past, but heart and effort, including from some athletes with training impaired by seasonal viruses, was outstanding.