HORWICH Harriers’ sprinter Sophie Walton has secured a place at the European Under-20s Championships.

Walton starred in the 200m at both the Northern Athletics Championships and the England Championships to confirm her selection and a trip to Estonia next month.

At the Northern Championships in Leigh, Walton came off the bend with scorching acceleration to win by a clear margin.

Victory made Walton the number one under-20 in the UK but to secure her place at the European under-20 championships she still had to get a top two place at England Championships in Bedford – and she duly came second. Walton and her coach, Trevor Williams will now prepare to compete in Tallinn.

It was also a week for several Harriers to achieve representative honours. At the GM schools championships in Stretford, Ethan Isaacs and Harvey Kenny carried the colours of Bolton and Emma Bradley ran for Wigan.

Harvey Kenny in action at the GM schools. Picture: Janette Bradley

Harvey Kenny in action at the GM schools. Picture: Janette Bradley

At Blackpool in the Lancashire Schools Championships, the club had three athletes turning out for Chorley with Josh Topham (300m) and Lucas Brennand (high jump) achieving personal bests at under-17. Ryan McCaffery was third in the under-15 high jump.

Up the Nab near Glossop in the Peak District hosted the second round of the English Junior fell championships. Harriers’ coach Tony Hesketh had the honour of being manager for the GM team made up of runners from eight clubs.

Horwich had three representatives with Toby Middleton at under-19 finishing eighth meaning he is now fourth in the four-race series. Charlotte Wilkinson at under-17 is now 10th in a strong age group and Lucas Collings won his first county vest.

There were also 10 other juniors running in Harriers’ colours, including fine debut performances on the fells at under-9 for Louis Yates and under-11 for Grace Freery.

The club’s senior men had a great turnout at the first round of the Sale Sizzler road race series.

In a fast field of 493 runners, Nick Leigh recorded his best time at 5k since 2017 for 18th place. Alastair Murray was second M45 and Matthew Mair was fourth under-20.

There were strong appearances for the first time in the Harriers’ vest for Paul Grundy and Dominic Jones who achieved a personal best time. In contrast, Rob Jackson ran first in the Harriers’ vest 35 years ago and has done so ever since with regular success. After a month out through injury he returned to take third M55 place at the Runthrough Tatton 10k.

On the fells, Graham Schofield is no stranger to age category wins and with his renowned ability to descend fast he did it again at M60 at Kettlewell in the short, sharp A grade race. Meanwhile in the Lakes at the A grade Ennerdale Horseshoe race, it was a gruelling 7513ft ascent over 23 miles of rough remote terrain that faced the five Harriers in another big field of runners.

Joe Mercer put in a strong finish taking 18th place with Danny Hope leading the four seasoned Horwich vets in.

Danny Hope at Ennerdale. Picture: Jacob Adkin

Danny Hope at Ennerdale. Picture: Jacob Adkin

The club has welcomed several new members joining with enthusiasm for training and racing, including Geoff Capps who took on another gruelling test in the Lakes, the Nav4 LM40 race which starts at Askham. The 60 runners then had 40 miles of runnable trails taking in the stunning scenery including Helvellyn and Patterdale in a race specially arranged to celebrate the ending of some lockdown measures. Geoff had a great run and is in good form for further ultra challenges this year.

Results: Kettlewell fell race – 36th Graham Schofield 16:05; Ennerdale fell race – 18th Joe Mercer 03:53; 66th Danny Hope 04:26; 124th Dan Gilbert 05:00; 180th Marcus Taylor 05:27; 206th James Titmuss 05:40; Sale Sizzler road race – 18th Nick Leigh 15:48; 33rd Paul Grundy 16:19; 40th Alastair Murray 16:26; 45th Luke Foley 16:32; 65th Dominic Jones 16:57; 85th Matthew Mair 17:29; Nav4 Lakes Mountain 40 – 24th Geoff Capps 09:01:07; Runthrough Tatton 10k – 19th Rob Jackson 40:14