Last week, twenty cross country runners from Banbridge Academy travelled to Kilbroney Forest Park for the Co. Down District Athletics Championships. It was the event’s first year at this new venue and the 1245 runners from some sixty schools in the district gathered on a cold but dry day for ten competitive races across all the age groups. The Academy was well represented and medalled in three individual events and one team event. The gold medal performance was from Rebekah Nixon in the Senior Girls race. Rebekah led from the start and powered home to win her race in fine style. Patrick McNiff was struggling with a chest infection but still had enough in the tank to place 2nd in the Senior Boys race with 1st and 2nd being comfortably ahead of the field. Bethany Nixon, younger sister of Rebekah, also ran a magnificent race to finish in Bronze medal place in the Junior Girls race. Bethany was backed up by fine performances from Ruby McNiff (10th), Julia Knox (15th), Lucy Bradshaw and Kathryn McGrath in the Junior Girls event and the team claimed the Silver medal, the first ever team medal from the Academy in a team event at the District Cross Country Championships. Another notable performance was from Nadia Radcliffe in the Minor Girls event as she finished just outside of the medals in 4th place. All of the above runners now move forward to the Ulster Championships at Mallusk on Wednesday 22nd February.
However, these were not the Academy’s only runners and a strong Mini Girls team of Rose Widdis, Ruby Mulligan, Lois Ginniff, Pippa Wilson, Ruby Wilson and Sarah Williamson all ran really well in a race of over 200 runners and all finished well up the field. Amber Brady also ran well in the Minor Girls race to back up Nadia’s performance and in the boys events, Jacob Somerville and Adam McKibbin were competitive in the Intermediate Boys race. Matthew McKee and Ronan Quinn also enjoyed good competitive cross country debuts for the Academy in the Mini Boys race and in the last race of the day, Marcus Stephenson finished well up in the Junior Boys race.
All in all, it was both a successful and an enjoyable day for all of our athletes and the qualifiers now look forward to the Ulster Championships at Mallusk.