A total of 28 Bicester AC athletes contested the last round of the Oxfordshire Cross Country League held last Sunday at Henley Showground.  There were some excellent Bicester results on the day and during the season reflected in the final standings which included three third places in the individual events and two team awards.  There were some close finishes at Henley on a course which included a deceptively steep climb near the finish followed by a long run in. 

The under 17 men achieved another set of fine results with Owen Stocker, who has enjoyed a superb season, leading the Bicester quartet home in 7th place.  Although this was not Stocker’s best run of the season, his efforts over the season earned him 3rd place in the final standings.  Stocker clocked 22mins 47secs for the 6,200m course.  Finlay Covlerson-Martin produced one of his best efforts of the season to finish 9th (22mins 52secs) and only just failed to pick up another place on the long run in.  One of the breakthrough runs of the day came from Isaac Moran who ran superbly for 11th (23mins 42secs).  Joshua Moran has performed well over the season and although not at his best, finished strongly for 20th (25mins 27secs).  The scoring team of three were 2nd on the day and finished a commendable 3rd team in the final standings.  In addition to the scoring team, Joshua Moran and Noah Gulvin also contributed to the team scorings throughout the season. 

There was a closely fought contest for 2nd in the under 17 women’s run over 6,200m.  Bicester AC’s Anna Jolliffe was in 2nd place after lap 1 of the 2 lap course and although she continued to run strongly, Jolliffe lost a further place on the final lap to eventually finish 3rd (26mins 48secs).  Jolliffe’s efforts over the season earned her 3rd   place in the final standings.

There was an individual and team 3rd  place for the under 13 boy’s team.  There was a close fought finish between Bicester teammates Darragh Cassidy and Erlgean Appiahkorang-Mensah.  It was Appiahkorang-Mensah who produced the greater acceleration on the day to lead the scoring team home finishing in 12th (10mins 55secs) over the 2,530 metres course with Cassidy 3 secs back in 13th.  However it was Cassidy, competing in his first cross country season who placed a superb 3rd in the final series under 13 boy standings.  The scoring trio was completed by Leo Blyton who ran creditably for 17th (11mins 09secs).   Although the team was 5th on the day, the Bicester team finished 3rd in the final overall team standings.  In addition to the scoring trio at Henley, Max Finnegan and Jago Newton also contributed to the team scoring places through the season.  Bicester’s other finisher at Henley was Thomas Perry who ran well for 21st (11mins 42secs).         

There was a superb cross country debut run from Barnaby Wilson in the combined boy and girls’ race run over 1,230m.  Wilson was just behind a trio of Oxford City runners finishing 5th in the 40 strong field, which was Bicester’s highest league placing of the season in this age group.  He was well supported by Tommy Lancaster who again performed well for 15th ahead of Samuel Wilson who turned in an improved effort for 21st.  Bicester’s sole girl competitor was Olivia Maxwell who also showed improvement to finish 29th .

There was another close fought race between Bicester runners in the under 11 boy’ race contested over 1,500 metres.  As they entered the start of the final long run in, Zach O’ Regan, in his first season of competitive running, held what looked to be a decisive advantage over teammate Cyrus Ariana.  Ariana then produced a superb burst of speed which took him in front of O’ Regan just before the finishing line with Ariana placing 13th  (6mins 40secs) and O’ Regan 14th  but credited with the same time as Ariana.  Cameron Waters, who did not compete on the day, also received a participation medal for completing 4 league events.    

Bicester had three athletes in the under 11 girls race (1,500m).  Maya Korn led the Bicester contingent home in her highest position of the season placing 11th (7mins 23secs).  Nancy Alcraft followed her home in 13th (7mins 31secs), which was also her highest placing of the season.  Bronwen Kernot showed improvement on her previous effort to finish in 16th (7mins 51secs).  Korn and Alcraft received participation medals having completed a minimum of 4 league events.       

Both of Bicester’s competitors performed creditably in a very competitive under 15 boy’s race despite being at the junior end of the age group.  William Morris competed well for 15th  clocking 20mins 18secs for the 4,890m distance.  George Hart completed his 5th league event of the season finishing 22nd (22mins 19secs).  There were also two Bicester runners in the under 15 girl’s run over the same distance and both will figure in the final standings.  Abigail Jones was Bicester’s first finisher in 16th (27mins 09 secs) with Bethany Wetton finishing in 18th (31mins 14secs).

There were two Bicester runners competing in the under 13 girl’s event (2,530m).  Kate O Malley is in her first season of competitive racing finished 23rd (14mins 29secs).  Emilie Stocker was Bicester’s other finisher in 29th (16mins 05secs).  Both will feature in the final standings with Stocker having completed every cross country league event that Bicester has competed in this season. 

Three Bicester men competed in the senior race run over 7,250m.  Ben Groves led the team home again finishing 112th (35mins 02secs).  Paul Jones was next in placing 167th (39mins 32secs) and improving Arran Critchley was 171st (39mins 54secs).  Leanne Stocker was Bicester’s only runner in the senior lady’s event run over the same distance and she did well to finish 72nd (41mins 25secs).  Although predominantly a track and field athlete Ben Groves’ performance throughout the season in the Oxfordshire League earned him 3rd place in the final under 20 male standings.