ATHLETICS: Juniors put best foot forward in East Coast AC cross country series

East Coast's Rhys McManus (centre) won the minor boys' race in Sunday's Junior Cross Country Series. INLT 02-912-CON
East Coast's Rhys McManus (centre) won the minor boys' race in Sunday's Junior Cross Country Series. INLT 02-912-CON

East Coast Athletic Club welcomed almost 70 junior athletes, between the ages of four and 16 years old to the first race of its Junior Cross Country Series in Larne on Sunday (January 10).

The poor weekend weather conditions forced organisers to lengthen the course lap from 500m to 676m and this meant the minis (Under 6) would take on a 676m trail, while the Minor Boys and Girls (Under 10), Junior Boys and Girls (Under 13) and Senior Boys and Girls (Under 16) would cover 1,352m, 2,028m and 2,028m respectively.

The minis kicked off proceedings with their one-lap race and it was East Coast AC’s Mark Magee and Madeline McMillan who led their respective fields home in 3:26 (1st boy) and 4:02 (1st girl). Other results: Ethan Shannon 3:34 (2nd boy), Ted McMillan 4:10, Keilan McManus 4:22, Saoirse Bell 4:28 (2nd girl), Rachel Urwin 4:29 (3rd girl), Imogen Taylor 4:33, Erica Ross 4:49, Annie Deller 6:29 and Tobias Taylor 7:50.

In the minor girls’ 1,352m race, Zoe Whitford (East Coast AC) enjoyed a comfortable gun-to-tape victory, crossing the line in 5:41 (1st). Hannah O’Toole finished next in 6:01 (2nd), with Lola Hogg following in 6:39 (4th). Other times: Lauren McKeown 7:04, Matilda Dean 7:33, Katie Monaghan 7:51, Ellie Gorman 8:13, Katie Wilson 8:16, Maggie Deller 8:43, Rebecca Robertson 9:05.

The minor boys’ event was a close affair and it took a fast second lap from Rhys McManus to see off North Belfast Harriers’ Daniel Kelly for top spot; Rhys clocked 5:26 for first place. Other times: Jay Mackness 6:05, Ben McKeown 6:06, Dallan Bell 6:09, Sebastian Clark 6:12, Kian McAllister 6:14, George Ross 6:16, Curtis Robertson 6:40, Sam McKeown 6:56, Zach Wilson 6:58.

In the junior girls’ 2,028m race, City of Lisburn AC’s Hannah Cochrane looked a class act as she powered to victory in an impressive 7:43 (1st). Second place was hotly contended for between Kelly Patterson and Bradie Hogg, however it was Kelly who surged clear in 8:12, with Bradie taking 3rd a second later in 8:13. Other times: Hannah Clements 8:27, Keeva Bell 9:12, Lucy O’Toole 9:30, Charlotte Dean 9:34, Katie Ewings 9:40.

The junior boys’ race brought an exciting battle between North Belfast Harriers club mates Luke Kelly and Callum McIlroy, with Luke just edging it to claim victory in 7:38 (1st). One of the youngest in the race, Charlie Patterson didn’t let this phase him as he battled it out for 4th-placed junior in a time of 7:47. Other times: Harry Plumb 9:08, Jake Dempsey 9:09, Joshua McKinley Hutchinson 9:28 (3rd senior), Daniel Gillan 9:28.

The next event in the three-race series will take place on Saturday, January 23 in the Curran Park, Larne (Registration opens at 10am, and races commence at 11am). The series is open to junior athletes (Under 6 to Under 16) from any club, school or organisation (ie football team, hockey team etc).