Rebecca ready to compete in Malta Open

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Halifax Harriers’ current crop of bright young stars has produced another international call up.

Seventeen year old heptathlete and high jumper, Rebecca Sullivan makes her international debut at the Malta Open International/Olympic Warm up Event in April having been selected for the travelling Northern Counties team.

Sullivan returned from injury in the summer of 2011 and, after a short competitive season, moved up to the under 20s age group.

She made her competition debut in December achieving a high jump personal best of 1.70m, which moved her up to ninth in the national rankings.

This outstanding form continued into the new year when, at the English Indoors Pentathlon Championships held in Sheffield, where Sullivan got to rub shoulders with Jessica Ennis, she took eighth place nationally and third place in the Northern Counties competition.

Bearing in mind that Sullivan has three more years to develop in her age group before moving on to the seniors, these are outstanding achievements, full of promise.

Living in Todmorden, Sullivan juggles studying for her A-Levels at Brooksbank School Sports College with her Harriers training programme at Spring Hall, where she also assists coaching the junior athletes.

This voluntary work was recognised in 2011 when Northern Athletics made her runner up for their Junior Volunteer of the Year award.

A NUMBER of Calderdale’s best young athletes set aside their club and school rivalries to compete as a Calderdale team against the best from Leeds, Bradford, Wakefield and Kirklees in the West Yorkshire Schools Cross Country Championships at Hipperholme & Lightcliffe.

With the prize of county selection for the English Schools Championship for the first eight home in each race competition was intense.

Calderdale’s Sally Smith got the afternoon off to a winning start in the Senior Girls race, comfortably holding off Hannah Brown from Leeds. The Senior Men’s equivalent was won by Leeds’ Gordon Benson, but Calderdale’s Sam Kerfoot Roberts and Brad Traviss came home well in fifth and sixth respectively, securing selection for the nationals. Joe Crossfield (9th) just missed out on automatic selection but is selected as a squad reserve.

Molly Traviss and Louise Redmond brought the purple Calderdale colours home second and third in the Junior Girls race but were unable to match Kirklees’ rising star Olivia Sykes. In the Junior Boys race, Matthew Cowton put in an exceptional performance to take eighth and the final county spot for the English Schools Championship.

It was no surprise to see Kirklees’ Annabel Mason run away with the Intermediate Girls’ race after her record breaking performance at Ogden’s Giants Tooth fell race on New Year’s Day. Sadly, Calderdale’s girls, though running well, were unable to make the county team. The Intermediate boys more than made up for this though, with Jerome Castelow chasing home the winner, James Hall (Bradford) with team mates Max Wharton (3rd) and Liam Steadman (4th) just behind. Performance of the afternoon went to Ciaran-Wilson-Baig, who ran way above expectation to grab eighth and qualify for county selection. This terrific run also ensured that Calderdale landed the team prize.

Calderdale’s Primary School Cross Country Championships were held over tough conditions and in sub-zero temperatures at Manor Heath.

Nevertheless, there were some outstanding performances from some of our most talented young endurance athletes.

The Year 3 girls race went to the upper valley with Alice Cannon (St Josephs, Todmorden) pipping Olivia Sylge (Heptonstall). The boy’s event went to Morgan Gannon (Old Earth) with talented footballer Harrison Nymen (Bradshaw) pushing him hard.

In the Year 4 Girls race, Tamara Grady (Sacred Heart) finished ahead of Phoebe Hook from Greetland. For the boys, Warley Town’s Mason Hogan just held off a strong finishing Oscar Small from Bradshaw on the stiff uphill finish.

The Year 5 and 6 girls races were dominated by four young athletes who have been running as a team for Halifax Harriers all winter, blazing a trail through the West Yorkshire leagues. In the end Lucy Hall (Warley) took the Year 5 race from Isabel Castelow (Sacred Heart), whilst Lucy Mills just pipped her friend Annie Stane in the Year 6 event.

Nicolas Sheard of Heathfield set a strong pace throughout to take the Year 5 boys race from Harry Johnson (St Mary’s), who put his fell running experience to good use up the long hill. Year 6 boys Josh Sutcliffe (Sacred Heart) and Wesley Gibrill-Keating (Holy Trinity) fought bravely over a tough mile, with Josh just proving the stronger up the finishing straight.

All of the athletes above are now selected to represent Calderdale at the West Yorkshire Primary Schools championship to be held at Leeds Metropolitan University on February 25. They will be joined by winning teams from Christ Church Pellon, Old Earth, Holy Trinity, Lee Mount, Heathfield and Burnley Road.