Oxford University Athletic Club

Match Report: The Field Events and Relays ‘Varsity Match


After an overwhelming win for OUAC at the Fresher’s Varsity match back in Michaelmas term, the Field Events and Relays match (FEAR) was not only another chance to showcase the new talent joining the club, but was also the first opportunity for the longer-standing members of the club to test all of their hard work, growth and improvement against that of minty-green rivals. With a record number of 92 athletes traveling to Lee Valley Athletics’ centre, the day resulted in a landslide win for OUAC with victories in all 4 matches, (women’s track, women’s field, men’s track and men’s field) and a cumulative score of 22-6, equalling the match record set by Cambridge back in 2011. Further to this win, a total of 11 match records were set, indicative of the very high standard of competition across all the events.


The day got off to a flying start, with Oxford securing Javelin wins in both the men’s and women’s events, and the women setting a new match record of 110.95m and individual record for Isabella Coutts, who threw a healthy 39.42m. Indoors meanwhile, both hurdles teams comfortably secured a win, along with another match record for the women, beating their record of last year with an impressive time of 39.36s. The match records, but not the high jump bar, kept falling for Oxford, with the women’s team producing a fantastic cumulative score of 4.95m. With wins across 5 events already in the bag, OUAC had begun building a strong sense of momentum.




Excellent support from the stands gave the men’s 60m sprinters an extra boost to a narrow win over the tabs, 28.90s to 29.14s, lead by outstanding performances from Isaac Kitchen-Smith (7.05s) and Harrison Steel (7.12s). The women were less fortunate against a strong opposition, but Katie Hannawin (7.99s) and Eni Oyesanya (8.06s) both put down solid performances and showed promising signs for the summer. There was another record set in the field, this time anindividual discus record for Anna Niedbala (41.12m), who lead her team to a total of 104.30m, almost double that of their opposition and in fact equalling the total of the Cambridge men! A comfortable win in the men’s discus followed. On the track, the women avenged their defeat in the short sprints by winning the 3x800m, and whilst Emily Hoogkamer, Rachel Skokowski and Irene Gibson couldn’t quite achieve the match record, their time of 7:06.00s still drew a great roar from the Oxford stand. There were also wins in the women’s triple jump and men’s high jump – despite the latter being a close-fought competition, with Cambridge putting down some very creditable performances, Oxford’s strength in depth carried the day. The winning streak continued with an excellent run from the men in the 4x800m, with Nathan Mapperley (2:02.3s), Alex Gruen (1:54.9s), Hugo Fleming (1:55.3s) and Louis Rawlings (1:52.9s). The men’s pole vault saw team and individual match records set by Oxford, with Rowan May jumping well above the blues standard. Both the men’s and women’s long jump were extremely tight, but in each case the team in dark had the edge and were able to produce the extra few centimetres to give them the win.


The women’s throws kept things on track (pun intended, shamefully) with a win in the hammer and another great set of throws from captain Anna Niedbala (44.05m). The men fell short of this achievement but narrowed the 141m deficit from last year’s competition to a mere 51m. Back inside, a crisp run from the women’s 4x200m saw excellent times in every leg, with Katie Hannawin (26.4s), Eni Oyesanya (26.5s) and Aileen Kearney (25.9s) handing over to Nicole McKechnie (25.5s), who was first to cross the tape. The men were less fortunate, as the excitement of the day gave Josh Ingham a bit of flyer, which may or may not have been “marginally” outside the changeover region. Despite Josh coming to a complete standstill to argue with his teammate, the Oxford team was still faster than their Cambridge counterparts, but they nevertheless had to accept the red flag from the officials.


In the 1500m, gutsy runs from the men’s and women’s teams stretched out a substantial winning margin, with Oxford finishing more than a lap ahead of the tabs in both races. The women’s throws finished off their clear sweep with a win in the shot put, Anna Niedbala once again dominating the competition and achieving her third blues standard of the day. The men’s event was more hotly contested, but Nick Roberts-Huntley produced a stormer on the last throw to win the event for the boys in dark blue. The atmosphere at Lee Valley continued to build as the men’s triple jump drew to a close, but even some outstanding jumps from Carl Britto (13.99m) and Andrew Wheeler (12.57m) were not enough and left Oxford 1m short of the total set by the tabs. That concluded the field events, and the final scores were in Oxford’s favour, 6-2 in the men’s and 7-1 in the women’s match.



This left just one more event, the 4x400m. The Oxford women produced arguably the most impressive performance of the day, smashing the match record by over 2s with all athletes (Aileen Kearney, Kate Kennedy, Irene Gibson and Nicole McKechnie) coming very close to the blues standard. The men found themselves in a much closer race, and although Cambridge were the faster team on the day, with slightly better pace judgement it could easily have gone the other way. This brought the day’s competition on the track to an end, and the results were certainly conclusive. The men’s track was won 4-2 and the women’s track 5-1






As trophies were presented to the winners of each event, the sheer volume of trophies going our way made the size of the Oxford win immediately tangible – it was a good day for shoeing. Celebrations from OUAC were followed by a timely word from Dan Hooker, who reminded the team of the importance of winning the Varsity Match in the summer and not becoming too complacent with the recent victory. The Varsity clean sweep of clean sweeps is fast becoming a reality, and with Oxford’s athletes again out in strength at training this week, every step takes us closer to that shimmering target.


 – Matt Newton

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