[Lara Cheatley & Sophie Rankin]
[Sebastian Mair & Carter Rolston] [Isla Wiltshire & Coco Smith][Chris Belshaw]One of the highlights of the junior racing calendar, the Schools’ cross-country competition, got
underway this week. Entry into the all-Ireland event in early March starts at the district level before
moving onto the Ulster level in February. On Wednesday the District B races covering parts of
Greater Belfast took place in Ormeau Park. The only club member running was Freya Lowry
(Methodist College Belfast), who finished 12th in the minor (year 9) girls and will therefore qualify for
the Ulster competition.
On Thursday it was the turn of the District A races, which covers parts of Belfast and County Down. A
lot more club members were involved in these races and there were some great performances. The
day got off to a great start in the mini (year 8) girls, with triathlete Sophie Rankin (Bangor Academy)
winning and Lara Cheatley (also of the Academy) finishing 7th . Both therefore qualify for the Ulster
competition, but due to a different school system in the Republic of Ireland, cannot progress to the
all-Ireland competition. Also running, and making her cross-country debut, was Emily Stewart of
Sullivan Upper (SU), who finished in 49th place.
In the mini boys Carter Rolston of Bangor Grammar (BGS) kept up his great form by winning the race
but was chased all the way by Seb Mair (Campbell College) who finished 3rd . Also running, and
qualifying, was Ollie Davey of Our Lady and St Partick’s College (OLASP) who finished in 13th place.
Elsewhere in this race were Ethan Wiltshire (SU) who finished 45th and Ross Armstrong and Isaac
McCrea of Regent House, who finished in 60th and 78th place respectively. Campbell College were the
1st team to finish.
A lot of group members took place in the minor girls’ race, where Coco Smith and Isla Wiltshire (both
from SU) battled it out for 4th place, with Coco finishing just ahead. Also running were a group of club
members from Glenlola, with Caitlyn Dickinson 18th, Abbie Small 19th , Kate Reading 50th and Abigail
Orr 98th . SU were the first team to finish, meaning there is a chance that both Caitlyn and Abbie
might qualify for the Ulsters. In the minor boys, James Blease (SU) qualified by finishing 10th . James
was followed by three BGS boys, Charlie Rayner 43rd , Matthew Elliott 46th and Thomas Newman 92nd .
BGS were the 3rd team to finish, so some of the above may qualify for the Ulster competition.
The next race was the senior girls (years 13 and 14). The field was quite small and there were large
gaps between the runners, so it was a real test of perseverance for the club’s two qualifiers, Lucy
Cheatley (Glenlola) in 7th place and Mac Eager (Strathearn) in 11th place. Strathearn were the 2nd team
to finish. The longest race of the day was the senior boys’ race that took in five gruelling laps of the
course. All club members who ran qualified for the Ulster competition, with Ethan Isles (OLASP)
finishing 4th , Luke McDowell (SU) 12th and a slightly under the weather Oliver Playfair (SU) 15th . SU
were the 2nd team to finish.
Then came the intermediate races (years 11 and 12). In the girls’ race Holly Blease (SU) finished 5th
and Becka Laffin (Glenlola) 14th and therefore both qualify. Also running were Laruen Cheatley
(Glenlola) 27th , Anna Moran (SU), more used to sprinting, 28th and Eimear Mulligan (St Columbanus)
52nd . SU were the 3rd team to finish, so Anna might still qualify. In the boys’ race, Aodhan Keag (St
Columbanus) in 7th place and Chris Belshaw (Bangor Academy) in 9th place both qualify, despite the
latter finishing the race with only one shoe!
The final two runs of the day were the junior races (year 10). Erin Playfair (SU) was the club’s only
competitor in the girls’ event, where she finished in 16th place. Erin will hopefully qualify as a
member of the SU team, who came 3rd . In the junior boys, the club had two qualifiers, both from
BGS, as Alex Downey finished in 4th place and Ethan Constable in 6th place. BGS were the 2nd team to
Attention will now turn to the Ulster Schools competition in early February. Given the great results
this week, the club is expecting a good number of its members to qualify for the all-Irelands in