We may have been forgiven for thinking Spring had arrived as the Ulster Schools XC took place at Mallusk. For large parts of the day the sun shone and complemented the quality of running on show from all the young athletes, many of whom were attached to North Down AC.
The day kicked off with the primary schools finale where JJ Hollie won the boys race whilst representing Ballyholme Primary, Ollie Playfair finished 11th in the same race, also with Ballyholme colours on. In the girls race Naomi Dunne was 48th running for Towerview.
Our best finishers of the day came in the Inter and Senior girls where Murphy Miller was feeling up for it when she secured 3rd place. Following Murphy in the Inters were Caitlin Turner in 26th, Megan Briggs 27th, Alisha Turner 36th and Bryanna Catney 75th. Erin McConnell had a strong finish in the Senior girls to also finish 3rd and Rio Catney followed closely in 4th. Jessica Scott was 13th as Sophie Kenny returned in 29th, Sarah Moorcroft 37th, Beth Crosbie 45th and Anna Scott 54th. Jakob Swann ran in the boys Inter race and had a decent run to finish in 24th.
Tara McDonough followed up her district win with a 6th place finish in the Junior girls, Amelia Tyler was 10th here with Freya Adams finishing 41st and Sarah Gaw, 52nd. Also in the Junior girls were Rose McGreevy, 58th and Katie Kimber 83rd, girls not usually associated with cross country. In the boys equivalent Adam Skelly was unlucky not to achieve top 15 and thus qualify for Irish Schools XC when he crossed the line in 17th. It is only a matter of time for Adam.
We had one representative in the Mini Boys race as Joshua Skarmoutsos completed in 49th and in the Mini girls Lucy Cheatley made it home in 15th and Niamh Fenlon 29th. Ellie Gordon and Jess Rook competed in the Minor girls finishing 26th and 36th before Nathan Semple had an excellent 7th place in the Minor boys followed by Lukas Kenny in 25th and Ryan Lynas in 50th. In the same race Luke Swann placed 113th and Lexx McConville, 128th.
The Senior boys featured John Ewing in 18th, an out of sorts Thomas Patterson in 25th, Jake Rushby 40th, Cameron Jenkins 43rd and Jack Logan 50th.
All those finishing in the top 15 individual places and top 3 teams qualify for the Irish Schools XC to be held in Waterford on 10th March.