SKIPTON schools secured eight out of 10 individual titles and six of 10 team titles at this year’s Harrogate and Craven Area Cross-Country Championships.

These races involved more than 400 runners from 17 secondary schools from as far afield as hosts Giggleswick and Queen Ethelburgas near York.

The races were on a testing course of undulating grazing land incorporating some stiff climbs, but also benefiting from a start and sprint finish on the pancake flat lap around the school playing fields, which made for excellent viewing for spectators.

Craven Herald:

There was a lot to run for with individual titles, medals for the first three and trophies for the best school in each of the five age groups for both boys and girls.

However, the main reason for the races is that they are a starting point for the Individual English Schools’ Cross-Country Championships as the best runners are selected for the Harrogate & Craven team for the County Championships, from which the team for the national is selected.

The races started with the seniors but were then followed in age order with boys’ races followed immediately by the girls.

In the year seven boys' race, Ermysted’s George Marsh and Will Oakden were among a trio battling for the medals.

Craven Herald:

George held on in a sprint finish to claim the individual title with Will third.

Excellent support from Will Pease in fifth and Daniel Hood 10th meant a low score of just 19 points for the total of the first four runners and the team title too.

Other Craven athletes in the top 12 gaining automatic selection for the area teams were South Craven’s Charlie Alpane, fourth, and Oscar Timbers in seventh.

The year seven girls race saw South Craven’s Izzy Patefield claim the area title ahead of schoolmates Lydia Eastwood in second and Holly Fitch sixth.

Giggleswick’s Lucy Cowin was fourth and Skipton Girls’ High School’s (SGHS) Rita Box eighth to also made the area team.

Craven Herald:

The years eight and nine age groups share a team in the County Championships so run the same course and distance and times are used to pick the top 12 and 4 guests.

However they are still run as two separate races enabling both age groups to gain medals and titles.

The year eight boys’ race saw Zac Jardine, of South Craven, take the title, while the girls race was again dominated by Craven athletes as SGHS pipped South Craven for the team title.

SGHS Izzy Wright led the runners home and was well supported by Lilly Nixon, seventh; Anna Petrucci, ninth and Hettie Brookfield 25th for their winning team.

South Craven’s Milly Timbers second and Rebecca Pierce third occupied the other medal positions with schoolmate Betsy Willis 10th. Giggleswick pupils Mathilda Avery eighth and Lily Pilkington 11th also made the top 12.

The Y9s then ran exactly the same course so times could later be used to select the best combined team for the County Championships.

Ermysted’s duo of Tom Hooper and Ewen Wilkinson set off in fine style but they were battling for the runners-up spot as Settle’s Jack Sanderson continued his domination of local distance running.

It was gold for Jack and silver and bronze for Ermysted’s with Ewen taking the bragging rights for now as he pipped Tom in the sprint finish.

Ermysted’s were expected to win the team event, but late withdrawals meant they only had the minimum four athletes running and every place was going to be important.

Daniel Ridehalgh had another good run for fifth and Seth Linacre continued his good recent form to get 20th of the 53 finishers for a total of 30 points just low enough for the team victory.

Other Craven athletes making the top 10 were Giggleswick’s Will Teal seventh and Settle’s Robbie Watmough 10th.

South Craven’s Layla Kirklee was next on top of the podium as she won the year nine girls' race, while Settle’s Charlotte Peart was fourth.

The Y10/11 race was next and Dougie Segger-Staveley tried his best to bring another individual title.

He led for much of the race but couldn’t shake the lad from Knaresborough who ran away on the final climb to leave Dougie settling for runner-up.

His team were superb with Sam Bentham coming home next in the bronze medal position, Samesh Chotai having the run of his life to come fifth and Nathan Hird again having a storming run in seventh for a team total of just 17 points and another team victory.

In fact this team was so dominant that the non-scorers Lachlan Wills 10th, Freddie Marsh 11th and Oscar Smyth 12th of the 43 finishers.

Those seven will be joined in the Area team by South Craven’s Sam Barber, who came sixth.

Olivia Aldham became South Craven’s fourth individual champion in the girls event, while SGHS Meghan Wilkinson was fifth and the Giggleswick duo of Lilly Whewell 10th and Laila Rostron 12th also made selection.

The seniors were actually first away and Ermysted’s had the favourite in Alex Thompson who showed his exploits on the track over the summer had not been at the expense of his endurance as he led from gun to tape and set the tone for the amazing day that Craven had.

The senior field was severely depleted with a lot of runners finding the extra distance a tall order after a lack of training and racing over the past 18 months.

Ermysted’s and Giggleswick did still manage to get teams out with Ermysted’s coming out on top as Andrew Robinson seventh, Robert Mann eighth and Will Hopwell 10th all made the top 10 and securing the team title.

Giggleswick’s Peter Moffat fifth, Max Rayne sixth, Jonny Scott ninth, Vingo Fong 11th and Isaac Larkin 12th all made the Area team along with South Craven’s Sam Smith fourth.

The Y12/13 girls saw Giggleswick collecting the team title as their runners finished almost in procession.

Alison Fry led them home in fourth with Emily Hutchinson sixth, Maylin Steinkamp seventh, Emma Wood eighth, Isabella Fox-Tristan ninth and Cecily Rigby 10th all making the area team.