STEVIE Stockton scored a remarkable first for Vale Royal Athletics Club on Sunday.

The U17s international athlete took gold in the North of England Cross Country Championships, the first time a Vale Royal athlete has claimed the top individual prize.

From the off Stockton was involved in a titanic battle with national silver medallist, Jessica Coulson.

They matched each other stride for stride for almost a mile and a half with the rest of the field trailing in their wake.

As they entered the final mile Stockton showed her class and kicked away from the Stockport runner, crossing the line well ahead of Wirral's Charlotte O'Connor.

And an excellent weekend for Vale Royal was capped by Hannah Weedall, who took bronze in the U17s after overcoming a significant handicap.

Club coach Shaun McGrath said: "After about 400 metres Hannah lost her right shoe.

"She tried to carry on, but stopped to take the other one off as it was too uneven for her.

"So she finished bare foot and still managed to finish third which is fantastic.

"Everyone was shouting 'come on Zola', but she had no idea what they were talking about."

The U17s girls took team silver, just behind Rotherham Harriers, thanks to Stockton, Weedall, Lorna Timms, Laura Lambert, Rachael Clews, Victoria Jones, Louise Bosson and Emily Deaman.

Rebecca Cragie also flew the flag for Vale Royal finishing in second place in the U15s girls race, just a few seconds behind last year's English Champion Kate Avery.

Also running well for Vale Royal was the U17s boys team of Ryan Smith, James Griffiths, Glen George and Lee Davenport who finished fourth overall.