Several Bicester AC athletes excelled themselves at Saturday’s Oxfordshire County Graded Open meeting which took place at Horspath.  With opportunities to compete limited over the last couple of years, some of the 22 Bicester strong contingent were making their first track appearances for nearly two years.  It was testament to their training that 39 of the 46 performances resulted in personal bests which included 7 national grade marks as well as 4 new club records.

Sam Rayson made a splendid return to action in his first competitive outing as an under 17.  Rayson’s last athletic appearance was in September 2019, therefore given this context, Rayson performed superbly to achieve three national graded performances.  Primary amongst these was a 1.80m clearance in the high jump, which was not only a national grade 3 mark but was also 4 cms higher than the existing under 17 male club record for high jump which had stood since 1996.  Rayson also achieved a national grade 3 in the long jump, with his first ever leap over 6 metres (6.03m) and was also a winner in his heat of the 100 metre hurdles with a national grade time of 15.20secs.

George Weston, in his first competitive outing since September 2019, took in an ambitious trio of three track events for his return to action.  As with Rayson, Weston rewrote the Bicester Ac history book as he claimed a new under 20 men’s club record in the 200m with a new personal best time of 24.1secs which was 0.7secs inside the old mark that had stood since 1994.  Weston also produced a superb clocking of 55.4secs in his debut over 400 metres which was 0.4secs shy of the existing club record that has stood since 1993.  He also equalled his personal best of 12.2secs in the 100 metres.

Anna Jolliffe and Jenny Critchley continued their run of record breaking and personal bests in the 1500 metres and 800 metres respectively.  Jolliffe, in her first 1500 metres outing of the Summer, broke the existing under 17 lady’s 1500 metre record which had barely stood for a week. Her time of 4ins 50.7secs was 2 secs inside the old mark and was a national grade 3 time.  And Jenny Critchley broke her own under 17 lady’s record in the 800 metres set just under a month ago, going under 2mins 20 secs for the first time (2mins 19.6secs) which was also a national grade 3 time.  Four other Bicester athletes produced good debut runs over 1500 metres with Oliver Conway (4mins 27.5secs) just missing out on a national under 17 grade time.  In addition, Finley Colverson–Martin, who is in the under 17 age category (4mins 34.2secs) and under 13 athletes Ella Myers Finnegan (5mins 59.1secs) and Luke Whitmore (5mins 45.3secs) all performed well.  Bethany Wetton also just missed out on her previous 1500 best clocking 6mins 17.7secs.  Myers-Finnegan was also making her debut in the long jump and produced the longest jump of the day amongst the under 13 Bicester girl contingent with 5th place and a leap of 3.56m.  And Whitmore won his heat of the 100 metres with a 15.1secs clocking.  

Kyle Mcleod produced a couple of superb efforts in the sprints in only his second ever club track and field competition.  Not only did he win his heat of the 200 metres, his clocking of 28.8secs was an under 13 boy national grade 4 time and not far short of the existing club record.  Mcleod was a good second in his heat of the 100 metres (14.0secs) which was close to a national graded time.  Ironically winner of his heat was clubmate Kyle Rayson who is in the under 15 age category.  Rayson’s winning time of 13.0secs was one of three personal bests that he set on the day.  Best of these was probably the long jump where he was 3rd with a leap of 4.58m which was 59cms in advance of his previous best.  Rayson also shaved a further 0.06secs off his best in the 80m hurdles (14.30secs).

Bicester’s other graded performance came from Noah Gulvin who like Mcleod was only in his second ever track and field competition.  Gulvin improved his previous 300 metres best taking 2nd place in his heat and clocking 42.3secs which was a national grade 4 boy under 15 clocking.  Gulvin also just fell short of improving his 800 metres best (2mins 25.7secs).

Under 17 Charlotte Kavanagh performed well in her first competition since September 2019.  Kavanagh set a new personal best in the shot with a putt of 7.87m.  She also improved her best mark in the long jump with a leap of 4.40m as well as clocking 13.9secs in the 100m which was just 0.1secs short of her 100m best time.  Under 15 girl Jasmine Hendon performed well in the sprint with a brace of personal bests, firstly lowering her own recently set best in the 100 metres with 14.4secs and producing a big improvement in the 200 metres (30.0secs).  Clubmate and under 15 girl Kristin Senior also ran a personal best in finishing 2nd in her 200 metre heat (29.9secs) as well as breaking 3mins for 800 metres (2mins 55.30secs).    

There was also a promising run in the 100 metres by Yasmine Sheppard who was making her debut at the distance and was competing in only her second track and field competition.  Sheppard’s time of 14.9secs was not far short of a national grade mark.  Sheppard also improved on her previous best in the long jump with a leap of 3.18m.   

Like Sheppard, fellow under 13 girl Grace Jarvey was only in her second club track and field competition and produced some good all – round performances.  These included winning her heat of the 100 metres 15.3secs and a debut run in the 70m hurdles (17.4secs).  Amber Busby, also in the under 13 age category, competed in a diverse range of events which included a good 800m clocking of 3mins 3.10secs as well as setting a new personal best leap of 2.92m in the long jump.

Two Bicester athletes improved their bests in the discus and javelin.  Having improved her personal best in the discus just a couple of weeks ago, under 15 girl Helena Norton improved her discus best to 7.54m.  And under 13 girl Daria Hudson, in only her second ever competition threw a new personal best in the javelin with 7.91m.  Bicester’s only senior competitor Emily Benfield did her first track and field competition since 2018 clocking 14.2secs, which was her fastest time since 2017, and leaping 4.26m in the long jump.

Written by N Dolden