Oxford University Athletic Club

Freshers’ Varsity Success!

It was a crisp, clear autumn morning, ideal ra15111014_10154885417686264_1197614942947979849_ocing conditions for the time of year. And it wasn’t just the weather that delivered for us; our athletes turned out in force to record a team performance to remember. The men and women were dominant, both winning by 112-77, neither of which was far off the highest score ever recorded in the Fresher’s Varsity Match – indeed it was the greatest winning margin by an Oxford team since 1975 on the men’s side,   and since 1988 for the women. With such strong results, team spirit is running high and momentum is building for a 4-0 clean sweep at the Varsity Match in Summer.

These convincing shoe-ings were the result of impressive depth and a close-knit team spirit. Both the men and the women recorded ‘one-twos’ in five of the eight field events, and we won three of the four relays. An impressive 17 Oxford athletes won individual events, compared with Cambridge’s 7. However you choose .                 ………………………………………………………………………………  to look at it, it was a convincing win.

Of course, there were some outstanding individual and relay performances on the day, and these are detailed below:

Top honours go to the men’s 4×400 team of Josh Ingham, Harrison Steel, Nathan Inkester and Cameron Bain that broke a 22 year old record by over 2 seconds, in a race run under darkness and cold, and without a Tab in sight. The women’s 4×400 team of Anna Sharp, Hatty Wigginton, Kathy Peters, and Aileen Kearney also put in a dominant performance over the Tabs, winning by over 13 seconds, with Kearney running a blistering anchor leg that left her competitor in the dust. It was an electric final event that captured the team spirit on show, with most of the squad staying back to cheer their lungs out. As one athlete remarked – it’s hard not to run your heart out when your entire team is cheering you at the sidelines! In a show of sportsmanship, the team also joined Cambridge in cheering their defeated athletes over the finish line. That’s the kind of team spirit and class that we all love to see.

Harrison Steel and Teele Palumaa took the top individual honours with Achilles Athlete of the Match performances. Harrison, the man who doesn’t know what lactic is, won the sprint double in rapid times of 11.4 in the 100 and 23.3 in the 200, both quicker than the Half Blue time. These were the fastest performances by a fresher at Iffley in a decade. He also split the Half Blue time in the record-breaking 4×400 team and aided an impressive come-back in the 4×100 after a mishap at the first change. Particularly impressive was his ability to back up in quick succession – the 200, 4×100 and 4×400 all fell within an hour of each other.

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Teele, the high jump phenomenon who finished second in the Estonian indoor national championships last year, picked up four individual victories in the High Jump, Long Jump, Triple Jump, and Discus Throw (and had to be dissuaded from also throwing Hammer). Her winning High Jump height of 1.65 m exceeded the Full Blue standard, placed her sixth on the OUAC all-time list, and was just one cm shy of the match record. She achieved a Half Blue standard in the Triple Jump, where her jump of 11.31 m (just 4 cm short of a Full Blue) placed her fourth on the all-time list. Finally, she achieved a Half Blue in the Discus, and was just 7 cm short of the Half Blue in the Long Jump.

There were countless other impressive performances in both men’s and women’s teams. Standouts in the men’s included a Full Blue performance by Chase Jensen in the Pole Vault, and Half Blue performances by Archie McNeillis in the Pole Vault, Cameron Bain in the 400, Daniel Smith in the Long Jump, Jacob Taylor in the Long Jump, Josh Ingham in the 400 and Parker Hibbett in the High Jump. And a special mention to Stephen Walsh for his ‘catch of the match’, for catching the relay baton in a nerve-wracking moment in the 4×100, which both kept Oxford in the race and prevented us from being disqualified for an early changeover. Genius.

There was a similarly impressive list of Half Blue performances by the women. Eight women recorded Half Blue performances, including Aileen Kearney in the 400, Eleanor Duck in the 100, Imogen Brown in the Javelin, Kate Kennedy in the 400 Hurdles, Melissa Lowe in the Pole Vault, Sophie Hubbard in the High Jump and Sydney Sopher in the Shot Put and Discus. Beyond the impressive standards and PBs, several women went above and beyond to help the team by entering additional events last-minute to cover injured team-mates: most notably Kathy Peters in the 400 and Tilly Woods in the 3000.

It’s hard to imagine a better start to the year. Of course, the hard work is only just beginning. Buoyed by the weekend’s results, we’re going to train hard, live smart and continue to support each other as a team. These results show us that the future of OUAC looks bright, but we’re not going to lose sight of the present. A Varsity sweep is on the cards for each team – let’s get to work and make it happen!

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