SEH leaps to athletic victory

Warm but windy conditions at Iffley Road saw Teddy Hall romp to victory in Saturday’s Athletics Cuppers Competition. Amassing 202.5 points, Hall finished far clear of Magdalen, who scored 105 points for second place. Oriel earned 69 points to narrowly clinch the bronze medal ahead of fourth placed Keble. The event saw seasoned OUAC athletes warming up for the upcoming season alongside newcomers, with encouraging performances from all ahead of the Varsity Match.

Danny Eckersley opened proceedings on track, finding some early season form to convincingly win the 400m hurdles in 56.1s, beating Aaron Mason into second place. Eckersley later proved he was also in fine form on the flat, running a Personal Best 51.4s to take third place behind Jonan Boto (50.6s) and Nick Cook (51.2s).

In the field, 2007 Women’s Blues Captain Frances Smithson opened her outdoor season in style, winning the Long Jump in a Blues worthy 5.50m. Julia Lange traded her middle distance spikes to jump 4.97m and finish second, proving she is just as talented in the field as on the track. Steph Poulson and Laura Groom finished third and fourth respectively, and then took first and second in the Triple Jump, to continue accumulating points for Teddy Hall.

One of the best races of the tournament saw yet another Hall athlete, Richard Hildick-Smith take on Dane Austin in a close-fought 800m. Tightly packed after a 58s first lap, Hildick-Smith moved into the lead with 350m to go and kicked down the back straight. Austin challenged hard up the home straight but had left himself too much to do; Hildick-Smith taking the title in a Personal Best 1:55.8s.

Dominique Smith took both women’s sprint titles, pushed all the way by Sally Hughes in the 100m before romping home to take the 200m in a swift 26.5s into a strong headwind. Emily Binner returned to action after almost a year on the sidelines to win the 400m, completing a clean sweep for Magdalen in the women’s sprints. James Osun-Samni won the men’s 100m in 11.8s in tough conditions, and will now be hoping to convert his speed into form on the jumps runway.

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Bethany Staniland completed a clean sweep of the women’s throws, demonstrating Blues form by recording 11.14m with the shot, 34.90m with the javelin and 34.47m with the discus. Teddy Hall’s Courtney Brown threw 28.69m in the discus and took second place in the javelin to give OUAC Captain Steph Madgett an enviable array of options ahead of Varsity selection.

The men’s throws were a familiar story, with Teddy Hall accumulating numerous victories. Ben Cossey’s 34.32m was enough to win the discus, and Phil Satterthwaite was victorious in the javelin with a throw of 43.95m. Elsewhere in the field, Simon Dewsbury (1.85m) upset pre-event favourite Alex Skouby (1.80m) by winning the high jump, although both will be confident of defeating Cambridge in two weeks time.

The relays rounded off proceedings with some entertaining battles, most notably in the 4x100m which saw an OUAC women’s team challenge the OUBC men. Despite the boys’ pre-race confidence, the girls’ strong start and smooth changeovers put the rookie athletes under too much pressure, and the girls streaked home to victory.

OUAC Men’s Captain Phil Duggleby said he was “very impressed with the day’s performances, and confident about the weeks ahead”. The Blues are currently in preparation for the BUSA Outdoor Championships this weekend for further practice, before what promises to be a scintillating home Varsity Match on May 17.