The 4th round of the Oxfordshire Cross Country League took place last Sunday in Gloucestershire at Cotswold Farm Park.  The Bicester AC team was 31strong and several of their number produced strong performances with several Bicester athletes well set in the overall standings with one event left.

Leo Blyton has been in superb form this winter with strong runs in both the Oxfordshire Cross Country and Chiltern Cross Country Leagues.  Blyton went into this event as overall series leader and enjoyed a tremendous battle with his nearest pursuer in the overall standing Swindon’s Finley Byrne.  Just two seconds separated Byrne and Blyton at the line with Byrne just coming out on top on this occasion.  Blyton clocked 11mins 37.80secs for the approximate 3km distance with Bicester’s Darragh Cassidy achieving his first top three placing of the season in 3rd (12mins 00.40secs).  Both Blyton and Cassidy defeated the county champion in the process.  Jonathon Morris closed the team scorers in 23rd (14mins 59.70secs) and this ensured a strong Bicester team performance with an equal second place.

Owen Stocker has also been brilliant form over the winter and produced another strong run in the under 17 men’s event run over an approximate 6km circuit.  On this occasion he found Connor Morgan just too strong but Stocker still managed a strong run for 2nd (21mins 42.00secs) leaving him in a strong position in the series standings with one event remaining.  Isaac Moran has been held back this winter with a niggling injury but there were signs of a revival in the recent Oxfordshire school’s championships.  Moran had his best run in the League this winter with 10th in the 27 strong field clocking 22mins 43.90secs.  There was a return to somewhere near his best form from Noah Gulvin who closed the team scorers in 13th (22mins 57.20secs) with the team finishing a superb 2nd on the day.   Bicester’s other runner, Joshua Moran, was not too far away in 18th (23mins 14.90secs).

Bicester AC’s senior ladies team were again in superb form and finished as leading division 3 team on the day.  Anna Jolliffe was a little short of her best but still managed 13th place in the 146 strong field clocking 37mins 29.20secs for the approximate 8km course.  Jolliffe was 3rd under 20 finisher but is likely to have retained her position as leader in the under 20 lady standings with one event to go.  Amy Gould showed a big advancement on her previous performance improving 24 places from 43rd to 18th clocking 38mins 31.70secs.  This was Gould’s best performance since her return to competitive running at the start of this winter season.  Leanne Stocker closed the team scorers with another solid performance in 61st (44mins 21secs) with Bicester’s other finisher Emily Benfield in 123rd (52mins 03.50secs).

William Morris enjoyed his best run of the season with a competitive 11th place in the under 15 boy’s race clocking 18mins 11.20secs for the approximate 4.5km course.  Morris was one place ahead of George Hart (18mins 19secs) who was a little below his best form having had to miss some training recently.  Erlgean Appiahkorang-Mensah has improved throughput the season and he closed the team scorers in 17th (18mins 44.30secs) with the team finishing 4th.  Max Finnegan was Bicester’s other finisher in 28th (20mins 39.10secs).

Bicester AC’s Ella Myers-Finnegan and Kate O Malley have enjoyed some close duals throughout the winter and they were again closely matched in the under 15 girl’s race contested over an approximate 4.5km course.  Myers-Finnegan finished 6th (21mins 14.10secs) with O Malley 7th (21mins 18.10secs) in the 16 strong field with the team placing 4th.

Megan Surman continues to find improvement in what is her first season of cross country and she achieved her highest placing to date in the under 13 girl’s race contested on an approximate 3km course.  Surman finished a fine 11th (15mins 7.8secs) in the 27 strong field with the Bicester team finishing 9th.  Bicester’s other scorers were Emelie Stocker who was 26th (18mins 40.30secs) just ahead of teammate Grace Fulcher in 27th (18mins 46.90secs).

Charlie Simpson achieved his highest Oxfordshire League placing finishing 15th in the under 11 boy’s event clocking 6mins 29.80secs for the approximate 1.5km distance.  Barnaby Wilson was Bicester’s next scorer just making the top half of finishers in 21st (6mins 42.60secs) with the Bicester scorers completed by Samuel Wilson in 32nd (7mins 19.80secs).  Ivan Stocker also competed for Bicester finishing 37th (8mins 9.20secs).  

There were just two Bicester AC runners in the under 11 girl’s race with both making the top half of finishers.  Nancy Alcraft ran a fine race for 14th clocking 7mins 13.60secs for the approximate 1.5km course.  Hannah Parsons has been a model of consistency and she finished in the top half with 19th (7mins 30.10secs).    

There were 4 Bicester athletes in the combined under 9 boys and girls event contested over an approximate 1.2km course.  First home for Bicester was Theodore Simms 16th in 6mins 00.10secs. He has performed well in his first season of cross country.  Ottilie Maclean was Bicester’s first girl finisher in 20th (6mins 12.10secs) placing 6th out of the 16 girl finishers.  Bicester’s other finishers were Lorelei Whelan in 29th (6mins 33.10secs) and Layal Hendon in 33rd (6mins 45.70secs) and they helped the Bicester team to 2nd place in the under 9 girl’s team event.