Dean lays claim to Euro squad place

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ATHLETICS: Hallamshire’s Hatti Dean ran a superb race to win the McCain Cross Country Challenge at Sefton Park, Liverpool.

The race served as a trial for the European Championships in Slovenia in two weeks and Dean booked her place in decisive style.

Back from altitude training in Kenya two days earlier, Dean forced the pace in the early stages until only Gemma Steel (Charnwood) remained as a serious challenger. Steel has been impressive recently with a series of wins on the road and country but met her match this time.

Things seem to be coming together for Dean whose track season was cut short by injury while she was also out of action for a month prior to going to Kenya.

The 29-year-old will be aiming to lead the British team to medals in the European race.

Leeds City’s James Walsh ran well to finish fifth in the men’s race. He set the early pace and was in contention until the final stages of a race won by Andy Vernon (Aldershot) from Mark Draper (Bedford) and Ryan McLeod (Tipton). Walsh was just two seconds away from the bronze medal position – the selectors had only guaranteed places in the European Championships to the first three.

However, a further three places are at their discretion and Walsh looks to have done well enough to clinch his place when the team is selected today.

James Wilkinson (Leeds City), just back from Kenya, had a disappointing run for 22nd place. He was fifth Under-23 to finish which should give him a place in the European Under-23 race.

A fine run by Mark Shaw (New Marske) saw him finish third in the Under-20 race to secure his place in the junior team for the European Championships.

James Lamswood (Kingston upon Hull) was third in the Under -17 race and Scarborough’s Bronwen Owen was runner-up in the Under-15 girls’ event.

Jacob Clark (City of Sheffield) won the third South Yorkshire Cross Country League meeting at Mount St Mary’s College, Sheffield, yesterday.

Clark, a junior, beat his team-mate James Gray to become the third winner in the senior men’s section leaving the title wide open with one race to go.

Jade Allen (Rotherham), runner up in the first two races, went one better this time winning from her team-mate Steph Burns.