LAST week saw the start of the Schools Cross Country campaign with Ballymena & Antrim endurance squad athletes competing across all the age groups for their respective schools.
The North District qualifying round was run over the University of Ulster Coleraine course on a bitterly cold morning.
First up in the Mini Girls race for 1st formers was Rachel Brown (Ballymena Academy), following on from last years performances in the Primary Schools event Rachel came away with first place.
Kane McIlroy (Cambridge House) was next up in the Mini Boys and came home in a strong 6th place.
Suzannah Brown was next up from the Ballymena & Antrim stable in the Junior Girls race for third form students. The Ballymena Academy pupil fought hard through the worsening conditions and narrowly missed out on a podium finish coming home in fourth place.
Ballymena Academy duo Matthew Stevenson and Caleb Dempsey took to the line for the Junior Boys race, both hoping to repeat last years performances. Finishing in fifth and sixth respectively the boys worked hard together to ensure progression to the next stage.
The fifth form boys up next in the Intermediate Boys race, David Hamilton (Slemish College) ran a solid race against some of the strongest opposition in the country to claim a top 6 finish.
A poor turnout of sixth form girls in the senior race meant that all competitors were guaranteed of qualification. Heather Carson (Ballymena Academy), perhaps better known as a long jumper/sprinter finished in 11th position and earned her school team second place.
The day was rounded out by the Senior Boys, Conor Crilly (Slemish College) running through some of the worst conditions of the whole day, stuck to the task at hand and came finished in second place.
All of the above athletes have now qualified for the Ulster Schools cross-country finals to be held on the City of Belfast Playing Fields course at Mallusk, Wednesday 13th February (11am start).
The Ballymena & Antrim AC - Endurance Group will be aiming to improve on the medal count from last year’s championships and hope to have its Junior, Inter and Senior athletes all gaining qualification for the Irish Schools finals which this year will be hosted by UU Jordanstown in March.
Ballymena and Antrim Athletic Club Training continues as follows:
Tuesday 6.30pm - 8pm. 6-12 years old & 12+ , St Louis Grammar School Ballymena, Indoor Circuit Session.
Tuesday 6.30pm - 8pm. 12+ years old, Antrim Grammar School Sportshall, Indoor Circuit Session.
Thursday 6.30pm - 8.30pm 12+ years old, Antrim Stadium, Outdoor Track and Field Session.
Further details - www.baacni.co.uk; facebook.com/baacni; contact firstname.lastname@example.org or 07702 066959.