Round 2 of the Oxfordshire Cross Country League took place at Cirencester last Sunday with 29 Bicester AC athletes taking part. Cirencester is a tough circuit and was exceptionally muddy this year. Bicester enjoyed a very successful day with two individual winners in the 11 contested races
Owen Stocker started athletics in 2016 as an under 11 and has progressed through each of the age groups. He started the season well in round 1 finishing second matching his 2nd placing at Cirencester last season. Stocker went one better on Sunday with his first ever cross country league success beating 28 other runners in the under 17 men’s race held over 6km. Stocker, having his 2nd run of the weekend, also over – turned form with his conqueror in race 1 clocking 21min 46.40secs. This puts him in equal first in the under 17 men’s standings after two races. Bicester’s under 17 men were not quite able to match their first round effort, where they were team winners, but still managed 4th place. Noah Gulvin was next man home for Bicester in 19th (23mins 59.10secs) with the team finishers completed by Joshua Moran, who was taking in his 2nd race of the weekend, 23rd (25mins 5.5secs).
Highflying Leo Blyton has made a lightning start to the season. Already a winner from round 1 Blyton made it two wins from two with a superb win in the under 13 boy’s race run over 3km. Blyton had three seconds to spare at the line clocking 10mins 50.0secs which cements his first place in the league standings after two events The first 4 were away from the rest and Bicester’s Darragh Cassidy was also in that elite group achieving his 2nd successive 4th place finish with an 11mins 2.70secs clocking. Although Bicester were not able to field a third athlete they still finished 4th in the team event.
Bicester’s senior ladies were 17th best team after round 1 and improved on that effort in round 2 placing 11th. There was a superb effort from Anna Jolliffe who finished a superb 8th in the 168 strong field. As in round 1 Jolliffe was again the highest placed under 20 lady finisher and improved 15 places on her first round effort. Jolliffe stopped the clock at 36mins 30.90secs for the 8km course which was less than a minute behind the 5th placed runner. This was another splendid Bicester team effort with Amy Gould, having only her 2nd race after a six year break, finishing a superb 32nd (39mins 10.20secs). Despite having her first 2nd race of the weekend, Leanne Stocker completed the team finishers with another placing in the top half in 82nd (46mins 29.0secs). Bicester’s other runner, Emily Benfield, continues to improve over the country and finished a creditable 139th (53mins 33.7secs).
Ella Myers-Finnegan and Kate O Malley were again very competitive in the under 15 girl’s event contested over 4.5km. Despite at the junior end of their age group both competed well with Myers-Finnegan just coming out best matching her round 1 effort of 5th (20mins 41.30secs). O Malley, who was having her second race of the weekend, finished one place behind in 6th (21mins 7.7secs), her highest placing in the Oxfordshire League.
George Hart managed to build on his fine effort in round 1 effort to produce another top ten finish in the under 15 boy’s race contested over 4.5km. Hart was involved in another competitive heat finishing 8th, just 7 secs away from 5th, in clocking 17mins 48.40secs. Erlgean Appiahkorang-Mensah showed improved form in comparison to his first round effort to place 16th (18mins 48.40secs). Max Finnegan completed the teams scorers in 18th (20 mins 18.70secs) with the team finishing 6th.
The Bicester team had an uneventful race in the under 11 girl’s run over 1.5km. Nancy Alcraft led the team home again finishing 4 places higher than round 1 in 11th place (8mins 54.8secs). Olivia Maxwell finished just one place behind Alcraft in race 1 but sadly one of her shoes became embedded in the Cirencester mud but she still managed to get to the finish in 39th (8mins 0.0secs). Hannah Parsons was having only her 2nd cross country race in Bicester colours and she did well to finish half way in 20th (6mins 8.90secs) with the team finishing 9th.
The Bicester under 13 girls equipped themselves well in their race run over 3km contested by 29 runners. Megan Surman only joined the club recently and continues to show steady improvement to record her first ever top half finish in 14th (14mins 42.7secs), 4 places ahead of her round 1 effort. Maya Korn ran another solid race to place 21st (15mins 42.30secs) with Grace Fulcher, in her maiden cross country season, completing the team scorers in 28th (17mins 42.0secs) with the team finishing 7th just two points off 4th place. Emelie Stocker was Bicester’s other runner in 29th (18mins 52.10secs).
Bicester had three men in the senior men’s race. Ben Groves finished in the top 100 in a senior cross country race for the first time leading the Bicester contingent home in 95th clocking 35mins 54.20secs for the 8km distance. John Stocker, in his first cross country run since 2021, finished in the top half of finishers in 120th (37mins 11.90secs). And club chairman Paul Groves completed the Bicester finishers in 265th place clocking 55mins 46.90secs.
Bicester AC had three competitors in the under 9 race which is run as a combined boy’s and girl’s race although there is a separate boy and girl competition. Theodore Simms built on his good first effort finishing 9th out of the 33 competitors over the 1.2km distance and was 6th placed out of the 16 boy finishers. Lorelei Whelan, competing in her first ever cross country competition, was 24th and 11th out of the girl 17 finishers with Layla Hendon 29th and 14th girl finisher. There were two Bicester AC competitors in the under 11 boy’s event contested over a 1.5km course. Sam Wilson, competing in his first under 11 cross country competition finished in a respectable 23rd clocking 5mins 59.8secs. And Ivan Stocker did well to finish in front of runners placing 35th (7mins 14.10secs).