Banbridge Academy’s cross country runners created history last Saturday, 11th March, at Mallusk Playing fields when 8 runners competed in the Irish Schools Cross Country championships. With three individuals and one team qualifying through from the Ulster Championships it was the strongest representation in an Irish Championships from the Academy ever! And if that wasn’t enough Patrick McNiff, in the senior boys race, ran fantastically well to win the Silver Medal, the Academy’s first ever medal at this elite level. Patrick, a dedicated and talented runner, was in the leading group the entire race and only a final kilometre of immense quality from his rival Fintan Stewart from Lumen Christi pulled him clear of Patrick. This result is all the more impressive as Patrick is only Lower Sixth and has another year to run in this category.
In the first race of the day, the Minor Girls race, Nadia Radcliffe from Yr 9 ran really well to place 41st in a field of over 100 athletes. Next up our Junior Girls team were immense in their race and finished a very creditable 6th place with Bethany Nixon finishing 17th, Ruby McNiff 46th, Julia Knox 54th , Kathryn McGrath 71st and Lucy Bradshaw 75th. A superb effort form our best ever team in the cross Country. In the Senior Girls race Rebekah Nixon ran to 17th place and she knows it was just not her day but nothing can take away from her awesome efforts in the Ulster Championships where she claimed the gold medal.
So as the last race of the day unfolded it was Patrick McNiff who finished things off in the most impressive style with his Silver medal and it was an historic last race to mark an Historic day. The athletes deserve immense credit for their efforts and it was a great day to finish off a fine Cross Country season.
Nadia Radcliffe’s excellent performances have seen her selected for the Northern Irish team in the London Mini Marathon and Ulster Champion Rebekah Nixon has been selected for the Northern Ireland U20 team for the Home Nations international in late March. And as for Patrick, his incredible Silver is sure to see him selected for representative squads which will be announced in the near future.