HOLLY Weedall’s second victory at the Northern Cross Country Championships was more emphatic than her first one a year ago.

The Vale Royal Athletics Club star led from the start in the under 15s girls’ race at Pontefract and reached the finish more than 30 seconds clear of her closest-rival - Humberside champion Ella Greenway (Cleethorpes).

“She shot off and nobody could get anywhere near her,” said coach Shaun McGrath.

“She just went for it, and if anything she was extending the lead all the time.”

Weedall, who took the county title at Warrington earlier this month, is only the second runner in the club’s history to win two individual gold medals at the event after taking the under 13s girls' title in 2018.

The other is Stevie Stockton, who prevailed in the under 17s girls’ race in 2006 before beating all-comers in the juniors women’s category 12 months later.

Winsford Guardian:

Vale Royal Athletics Club's under 15s girls' team, from left, Holly Weedall, Grace Roberts, Ellie Bushill and Ellie Hudson jump for joy after taking gold in their age-group category at the Northern Cross Country Championships. Picture: Dave Woodhead/woodentops.org.uk

However Weedall’s grin was just as wide when she celebrated an emphatic team success with Grace Roberts, who classified seventh, Ellie Hudson and newcomer Ellie Bushill.

McGrath added: “It was a huge win for the team.

“We expected them to be hard to beat if everything went according to plan but they did so by an enormous margin.”

Indeed Vale Royal would have taken first prize even if Thea Smith, who ranked 85th, had been their fourth counter instead of Bushill.

Holly Smith took bronze in the under 17s girls’ race on a firm, flat course, matching her feat in the same age-group at Harewood House last year.

She showed encouraging signs too after finishing clear of Sale's Lara Crawford, who pipped her to gold at the Cheshire Championships.

Winsford Guardian:

Holly Smith, wearing 129, leads the way in the early stages of the under 17s girls' race during the Northern Cross Country Championships at Pontefract last weekend. Picture: Dave Woodhead/woodentops.org.uk

A dozen Vale Royal athletes were among the first 30 to finish in their age-group.

Alice Gale was seventh in the under 13s girls’ race, while Patrick Griffith finished eighth in the under 15s boys’ category.

A junior women’s trio of Chloe Dooley, Emily Lowery and Sophie Smith were unlucky to place fourth in the team standings and were edged out by Hallamshire Harriers for a medal.

Track specialist Jacob Brown made an impressive debut in the senior men’s race, classifying in 28th place.

Stuart Doyle, the club’s chairman, Nathan Williams, Mark Crabtree, Gareth Williams and 75-year-old Colin Rathbone completed a team that ranked a creditable 20th.

Winsford Guardian:

Jacob Brown impressed on his debut as a senior for Vale Royal Athletics Club at the Northern Cross Country Championships last weekend. He crossed the line in 28th position. Picture: Rob Brown/Vale Royal AC

Sarah Murphy took heart from finishing 28th in the senior women’s race despite the conditions not suiting her while Amelia Pettitt marked her return to competition in Vale Royal’s colours – more than 12 months after a previous appearance – by finishing 42nd.

A persistent foot injury has restricted her to a handful of parkruns since the British Universities Championships this time last year.

Results (selected Vale Royal AC runners only)

Northern Cross Country Championships

At Pontefract Park

Saturday, January 26

Senior men (12km): 28. Jacob Brown 40:25; 87. Stuart Doyle 42:30; 114. Nathan Williams 43:34; 172. Mark Crabtree 45:16; 246. Gareth Williams 47:00; 678. Colin Rathbone 1:05.25.

Teams: 20. Vale Royal AC 1325pts.

Senior women: 28. Sarah Murphy 30:40; 42. Amelia Pettitt 31:41; 361. Carole Williams 52:22.

Junior men (8km): 19. John Humphries 27:35.

Junior women (5.7km): 20. Chloe Dooley 21:20; 27. Emily Lowery 21:47; 40. Sophie Smith 22:58.

Teams: 4. Vale Royal AC 87pts.

Under 17s boys (6km): 41. Ed Pettitt 21:09; 78. Aaron Doyle 22:24; 88. Sam Stephens 22:56.

Under 17s girls (5km): 3. Holly Smith 17:52; 23. Ellie Grinnell 19:23.

Under 15s boys (4km): 8. Patrick Griffith 12:56; 24. Jake Wilson 13:24; 64. Dylan Carney 13:59.

Under 15s girls (4km): 1. Holly Weedall 13:29; 7. Grace Roberts 14:20; 32. Ellie Hudson 14:58; 35. Ellie Bushill 14:59; 85. Thea Smith 15:51; 93. Isobel Ashcroft 16:00; 115. Faye Conboy 16:18.

Teams: 1. Vale Royal AC 75pts.

Under 13s boys (3km): 69. Josh Williamson 11:06; 118. James Dixon 11:39; 187. Joe Bland-McKenzie 13:04.

Under 13s girls (3km): 7. Alice Gale 10:55; 66. Hope Smith 11:50; 86. Darcie Hudson 12:02; 131. Tarlia Higginbotham 12:31; 155. Erin Carney 12:52; 178. Molly Roberts 13:29.

Teams: 9. Vale Royal AC 290pts.