CRAVEN athletes Alice Jones and Sam Headley claimed individual county titles at the 2019 North Yorkshire Schools’ Cross-Country Championships on Saturday at Caedmon School, Whitby.

They led a 34 strong Craven contingent who had gained selection following November’s Area Championships held at Aireville Park.

County selection for an Inter-County match, at South Shields on February 2, relies on runners finishing in the first 15 (or 12 in the Year 7 race).

In addition, anyone finishing in the top six is automatically selected for the English Schools’ Championships to be held this year at Temple Newsam in Leeds in March with the final two places decided following February’s Inter-County match.

In the Year 7 girls race, the only Craven athlete was South Craven’s Olivia Aldham, who ran well to finish eighth of the 52 finishers and so qualified for the county.

In the Year 7 boys race, Ermysted’s Sam Bentham was the first Craven athlete back in sixth, with schoolmate Lachlan Wills tenth and Upper Wharfedale’s Jacob Reeday also making the county team as he came in 13th.

The junior girls race (under-14s) saw another three of Craven’s representatives qualify for the county teams.

Skipton Girls High School’s Emma Peel was the first Craven runner back and was unlucky not to win a medal as she lost out on the battle for bronze on her second lap.

Two South Craven runners, Tui Brooks and Scarlett Metcalfe came sixth and 14th, respectively.

The Junior Boys gave Craven its first county champion as Sam Headley of Upper Wharfedale ran a great race leading from the gun to secure victory. Ermysted’s Donnabhan Rudden also ran well for 12th place and county selection.

The Inter Girls (under-16s) had a Craven favourite in Skipton Girls High School’s Alice Jones.

Alice has won this event in each of the three previous years and is also on good form having won the club’s county title at last week’s championships at Lightwater Valley.

It was no surprise then when she ran away from the rest for her fourth school’s county title.

The other Craven runner in the field was schoolmate Ruby Firth, who came sixth to secure a place in the county teams for both the South Shields match and the full English Schools’ Championships.

The Inter Boys had a strong Craven contingent with Alex Thompson, who also won at Lightwater Valley last week leading the challenge.

Alex and South Craven’s Sam Smith were right at the front on the first lap but the eventual winner, Scarborough’s Finnian Hutchinson, made a move towards the end of the lap and never looked like being caught.

Alex and Sam both ran on well, finishing third and fourth with Alex claiming bronze. Next home for Craven was South Craven’s Jack Muir in ninth, before Ermysted’s. Louis Hudson (11th), Arthur Peel (12th) and Seb Seggar-Staveley (14th) also made the county team.

The Senior Girls saw all three Craven runners make the county team. Emily Jones and Katie Atkinson, both of Skipton Girls, were highly placed as Emily claimed bronze and Katie followed her home in fourth place. Giggleswick’s Marissa Allen also ran well for eighth place to gain selection.

Arguably, Craven’s best performance came in the Senior (under-18s) boys’ race as there were six local lads made county selection.

In fact knowing that Euan Brennan, who was in Spain running for England would clearly have also made the team, shows the region’s strength in this age group.

It was left to Ermysted’s Joe Hudson to spearhead the challenge and he gave it everything. Initially a group of six broke clear, which was whittled down to three strong contenders on the second lap.

However, Josh Dickinson from Ethelburgas College followed up his club’s county title with the school’s version and Joe had to settle for silver.

Giggleswick’s Tom Jeffries was fifth, Ermysted’s Will Thompson and Tom Barrett eighth and tenth, Ryan Watmough from Settle College 11th and Henry James from Ermysted’s 15th to claim the final county place.