Bicester AC pulled the curtain across on another busy Winter season at last Friday’s annual awards shindig which this year took place at a new venue, Whitelands Farm Sports Ground. There was also a different Master of Ceremony as new Chairman Mark Brown opened up proceedings.

This was the year that Bicester made their mark in the three main national cross country championships thanks to one athlete.  Within the space of a month Ben West had not only re-written the Bicester AC history books but established himself as one of the leading under 17 male distance runners in the UK. Not content with a top ten placing in the national cross country championships, West followed up with similar efforts in both the Inter County Cross Country Championships and English Schools Cross County Championships. It is perhaps a product of how far he has come that he has been selected by the South of England to take part in the London Mini Marathon competition, which is the junior race preceding the London Marathon. In addition West was again crowned overall champion in the under 17 Chiltern League Division 2 Competition, Oxfordshire Country Cross Champion and was placed in the top ten of the nationally recognised season long cross challenge competition. Perhaps not surprisingly West’s heroics earned him the club’s best junior male cross country performer.

In her younger years Amelia Cox was a promising distance runner but ahs then experienced a couple of quieter seasons. This year has seen something of a revival as Cox has featured prominently in the under 15 girl’s age group in both the Oxford Mail League and Chiltern League competitions. This earned her a county vest in the recent national inter county cross country championships where she was 2nd Oxfordshire runner home. Cox has made a massive leap forward in her cross country championships races this year and this is all the more creditable given that this was her first year in the under 15 age group. She was awarded the best junior female cross country performer.

Lucy McGrath has made a real mark in what has been her first season of cross country action. Like Cox she was awarded a county vest and equipped herself extremely well in the end of season national competitions. McGrath was awarded the most improved cross country performer.  The club’s outstanding performer in the under 11 age group has been Owen Stocker who has consistently been towards the upper end in the Oxford Mail Cross Country League and these efforts earned him best under 11 cross country performer.

No club can exist on just good performances alone and this awards evening recognises contributions from other club members which define what the club is about. Kyle Rayson and Bethany Wetton were awarded the boy and girl cross country members of the year award. And the best cross country contribution was awarded collectively to the Jones family. Although not bagging an award, special mention was made of Max Nicolle who enjoyed another fine season in the Chiltern Division 2 and Oxford Mail Cross Country Leagues achieving podium finishes in both League events as well as earning county selection. It was announced that Nicolle was leaving the club joining Aylesbury and the club thanked him in his efforts and passed on their best wishes for his future endeavours at Aylesbury.

There was also a resume of the indoor sportshall with a steady stream of athletes who attended sessions throughout the Winter.  The club competed in the Oxon Sportshall League and there was a good performance by the under 13s who finished 2nd and the under 15s, where the boys were 2nd and the girls first in the final overall standings. Individual League awards were collected by Holly Offord (silver in the under 11 girl’s), Ben Groves (bronze in the under 13 boy’s ), Joseph Rayner (bronze in the under 15 boy’s ) and Rushani Arumugham (gold in the under 15 girl’s).

Written by N Dolden