Morpeth athlete Briggs signs off his XC season in style

Morpeth Harrier Matthew Briggs signed off his cross country season in fine style by winning the final race in the Mid Lancs XC League at Towneley Park in Burnley, and in so doing took the overall Senior Men’s title.

By The Newsroom
Tuesday, 22nd March 2022, 9:50 am
Updated Tuesday, 22nd March 2022, 9:51 am
Matthew Briggs on his way to the Mid Lancs Cross Country title.
Matthew Briggs on his way to the Mid Lancs Cross Country title.

The final year Lancaster University student held a commanding lead at the top of the individual table and also led his university team-mates to the team title.

Briggs is now under the guidance of Commonwealth and Empire Games 1966 Marathon gold medallist Jim Alder, MBE, who has encouraged Matthew both to up his mileage and to take advantage of every opportunity available to compete.

It was a very long way to travel for competitors from the North East who journeyed all the way to Hop Farm, Paddock Wood in Kent on Saturday to take part in the annual English Schools’ Cross Country Championships.

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Northumberland’s best performers included their Intermediate Boys, Junior Boys and Senior Girls, who all had Morpeth Harriers amongst their ranks.

Best performers were the Intermediate Boys whose fourth placed squad were led home by Blackhill’s Tom Slane, who finished 20th in a strong field, his best performance for some time.

Morpeth had three athletes amongst the other counters in Will Devere-Owen (22nd, 2nd counter), Bertie Marr (51st, 4th counter), and Ryan Davies (88th, 5th counter) with the squad only 27 points adrift of third placed Hampshire. First team place went to Sussex, with hosts Kent finishing second.

However, had unfortunate Joe Dixon not suffered a recurrence of a foot injury which had put him out of the previous week’s Inter Counties, the team would probably have medalled.

He sustained it during the first half mile of Saturday’s race, an injury that has been diagnosed as a stress fracture of the second metatarsal - which will almost certainly keep him out of action for a number of weeks.

Good individual runs by Morpeth pairing Ollie Calvert and Ollie Tomlinson in finishing 12th and 16th respectively saw them lead Northumberland’s Junior Boys home to fifth team place, with the event won by Hampshire.

Northumberland’s Senior Girls finished sixth behind winners Surrey. They were led home by Millie Breese, who again produced an excellent run to finish 12th overall.

Fellow Morpeth Harrier Abi Leiper also got amongst the scoring counts, finishing as sixth home in 159th place.

The county’s Senior Boys finished as 14th team behind hosts Kent, with three Morpeth Harriers contributing to their scoring count. The squad were led home by Gateshead’s Josh Blevins, who finished 11th overall with an excellent run.

Good support also came from Morpeth trio Joe Anderson (124th) (3rd counter), Matthew Walton (144th) (5th counter), and James Tilley (148th) (6th counter), who also sadly finished with a foot injury that may see a period of inactivity.

The club’s other Northumberland entrant was Tabitha Robson, who was unfortunately outside the counters in the Intermediate Girls event, finishing 253rd, with the team finishing in 18th team place.