YORKSHIRE Champion Meles Okbazghi (Sheffield Running Club) attempts to go one better when he challenges for the Northern Cross Country Championship at St Helens today.
The competition will be altogether fiercer than the Yorkshire one but Okbazghi looked to have something in hand when he won the county title and it would be no surprise to see him among the medals again.
Former Northern winner Hatti Archer (Hallamshire) is expected to line up in the women’s race. Former Northern Champion, Archer returned to top level competition last week after injury problems. Third place in the McCain Challenge at Cardiff showed she’s on the way back, although it would be asking a lot for her to get among the medals. If Hallamshire also field Nicola Squires, Julia Jagger and Calli Thackery they could match last year’s performance when they took bronze. However, Rotherham will be looking to add to their impressive list of team successes.
Rotherham won the Yorkshire title but two of their counters on that occasion, Rosie Edwards and Annabelle Grady, are missing. Edwards has returned to the USA and Grady is not able to travel from her University base in London. Nevertheless they field a strong team led by Jade Allen, sixth last year with Samantha Johnson, Steph Burns and Jessica Fawcett providing top class support.
Yorkshire Tom Bains and Fiona Bell, (Hallamshire) are medal contender in the under 20 age group.
City of Sheffield trio Josh Naisbitt (U17), Jonathan Shields (U15) and Alfie Manthorpe) will all be looking to add Northern glory to the county titles they won earlier this month. Sheffield have medal chances in all three races.
Amelia Lancaster (Sheffield) winner of the Yorkshire U13 title and first again in Cardiff last week, will be hard to beat in her race. With Mariella De Lara and Emily Simpson in support, Sheffield are favourites for the team title.