English Schools' Regional Combined Events – Nuneaton 27/28 June 2015

The opportunity to represent Oxfordshire, with a chance of getting to the English Schools' National finals in Birmingham and possibly onward to represent England was only taken by 11 athletes this year.

4 boys, 1 under 15, 2 under 17 and 1 under 19 – so no team as it takes 3 to make a team in any age group: 7 girls with 4 u15 girls and 3 u17 girls so 2 teams but no sen girls at all!

Those that did go oozed quality from the start and their efforts paid off with Alice Hopkins winning the Inter Girls and Sam Way the Inter Boys.

Day One

Alice Hopkins won the 80 mt hurdles with a very quick 11.7sec. Unfortunately Jade O’Dowda hurt her hip finishing in 2nd place in 12.0sec and was unable to compete for the rest of the weekend. This meant the Inter girls team was now unable to win as had been expected. So it meant Rebecca Scott needed to focus on her individual position to try and ensure a place in the national finals in September. She duly delivered a massive hurdle pb of 12.9 sec to end the first event in 6th place. The next event for the girls was the high jump and whilst both had a slightly under par performance (Alice 1.57mts and Rebecca 1.54mts) in windy conditions this was enough to finish 3rd and 4th respectively and for Alice to retain first place. The shot was next and it was Alice’s turn to provide a pb 11.39mts, a throw good enough to move her from UK ranked 72 to 48! Rebecca put in a steady 7.50mts – at this point the 2 girls still lead the team event despite only having 2 members! The final event on day one was the 200mts and sure enough both girls had pbs (Alice 26.8sec and Rebecca 27.2sec) to finish day one in 1st and 6th place.

Sam Way was disappointed with his win in the Inter Boys first event the long jump as 5.96mts was well down on his 6.49 pb. However his team mate, Blake Strickland Bennett, did have a 5.23mts pb. Event two, the discus saw Sam throw a new pb of 39.26mts – not to be outdone Blake threw 20.29 for another pb. Sam was establishing quite a lead and he didn’t falter with a new javelin pb of 43.31mts another win to retain his first place. Blake also had a pb throwing 19.12mts. Sam finished day one in the lead but was again a little disappointed with his last event the 400mts where he clocked 56.0sec. Blake was also well down on his pb at 57.4sec. Blake finished day one in 15th place.

The junior boys representative was Tom Couzens who was to end up really enjoying his day in his first ever pentathlon. Having never completed a 80mt hurdle race before did exceptionally well finishing his first of 5 events in 15.0sec. Shot was next and also a new event and 6.49 mts was a commendable result. His long jump was only a little down on his best at 4.47mts but the next event the high jump was to provide him with a new pb of 1.51mts. with a 2.34.0 800mt clocking Tom ended the meet in 15th place and is thoroughly looking forward to next year, when hopefully he will lead the u15 boys team!

The Senior Boys only had 2 competitors – not unusual as the decathlon requires you to pole vault, a skill sorely missing from most multi eventers arsenal. Our own Tim Stephens however was undaunted by the lack of competition and started day one with a fabulous 11.5sec(pb) 100mts clocking. His day got better as he had pbs in the next 2 events: Long jump 6.17mts pb, Shot 9.78mts pb, however one of his favoured events the high jump was poor by his standards only achieving 1.69 mts. Day one ended well however as he went on to pb again in the 400mts with a 51.0sec clocking. Day 2 saw 3 more pbs from Tim starting with the 110mt hurdles in 15.6sec pb, discus 22.69mts, pole vault was a huge 3.10mts pb, jav 28.65mts pb and the last event the 1500mts was completed in 4m 27.8sec, only 2 sec outside his pb – this after 2 days when he really only had to turn up for each event to qualify for the nationals in Birmingham in Sept. But Tim is a real competitor and he proved this with his 7 pbs and a total points score of 5592 to take him to 10th spot on the UK under 20 rankings.

Day 2

Day 2 saw the arrival of the junior girls – 3 out of 4 had pbs and so the team got off to a great start. Petrina Chantler Edmond (12.8sec pb), Zoe Lovibond (14.6sec pb), Holly Griffiths-Brown (14.1sec pb) and Tori Harte (12.6sec). Petrina then won the next event the shot with 11.05 mts. This took her to an overall 3rd place. Tori backed her up with a great pb of 9.04mts. Zoe then produced her 2nd pb of the day with 7.24mts followed by Holly with her 2nd pb of 6.20mts. The high jump was next but it was to prove difficult in a swirling wind. Holly lead the team with 1.42mts, Petrina 1.36mts, Zoe 1.30mts and Tori 1.24mts. No pbs and this was to prove too much of a burden for the team as the team score suffered badly against West Mids and Notts. The fourth event the long jump was to prove even more of a challenge with only Holly performing near her best with a 4.70mt leap. Zoe was next best with a creditable 4.25mts. Tori managed to salvage a 4.15mt jump from the verge of disaster with her final leap and Petrina managed a 3.65mt jump from about a metre behind the board as her run up was badly affected by the wind. With now no hope of team glory the girls just had to run for more pbs and each other in the 800mts. The honours went to Zoe who had another pb in 2min 39.6sec. The other 3 all ran good times and where close to their individual best with Holly running 2min 37.0sec, Petrina 2min 46.3sec and Tori just outside a pb in 2min 45.8sec. Overall a day of ups and downs but generally a great team bond emerged and with Holly and Zoe only being first years much experience to stand them in good stead for 2016!

The Inter Boys started day 2 well with Blake equalling his 100mt hurdles pb in 16.1sec and Sam getting a pb in 15.2 sec. Sam continued to lead the field but a disappointing high jump was to prove costly. He could only manage 1.61 mts whilst his main rival jumped 1.79mts to just overtake him by 8 points! Blake meanwhile was content with his new 1.58mt pb, his 5th from 6 events! Sam knew he would have to throw well in the shot to retake the lead. His 11.92 mts was a little down on his best but his rival had a poor throw and so he regained the lead. Blake meanwhile had another pb in his first ever 5k shot with a 6.10mt throw. 5m 16.4s in the 1500mts from Sam was not enough however to win the event as his main rival ran 4m 34.2s to secure the overall title. Still Sam had another pb and was ecstatic with his 2nd place and a gurantee of a shot at the national title in Sept.

Alice and Rebecca started day 2 of their campaign with the long jump. Alice won but her 5.18mts was well down on her staple output this year and this would prove costly later. Rebecca had a scare with a very poor first jump which was miles over the board. After a few adjustments she duly delivered her 3rd best jump of the year with a 4.80mt leap. Alice still lead the competition and Rebecca had cemented herself in 6th place. After a disaster in the javelin last year in this competition Alice pulled out a 23.71mt throw and Rebecca had a pb of 20.66mts. Both girls remained in first and sixth, but Alice was now only 6 points ahead of her nearest rival with the dreaded 800mts to come. Alice set off on lap one determined to stick with her rival and at 600mts they were neck and neck. Fatigue and lactic hit Alice in the last 50 mts and poetically Rebecca caught her up as both girls crossed the line together to be give 2m 40.5 sec. So Alice finished 2nd overall with 4404 points and will go to the national finals whilst Rebecca held on to 6th place and must now wait to see if she qualifies as one of the UK top 8 not in a team or 1st or 2nd place from the six UK regions her 3769pt total is very good and should be sufficient depending on other weekend performers!

Overall a great weekend with 3 individuals gaining national spots, 10 athletes very tired but many new friendships made and lots of experience gained. Southerns and Nationals next!!

Final Standings

U15 Boy – Tom Couzens – BCC – Bicester 15th 1650 pts

U17 Men – Sam Way – Radley College – Radley – 2nd 4460pts

U17 Men – Blake Strickland Bennett – John Mason – Radley – 15th 3119pts

U20 Men – Tim Stephens – Magdalen – Ox City – 2nd 5592 pts

U15 Girl – Petrina Chantler Edmond – Cherwell – Radley – 12th 2390 pts

U15 Girl – Holly Griffiths-Brown – Cooper – Bicester -13th 2376pts

U15 Girl – Tori Harte – Banbury – Radley – 17th 2277 pts

U15 Girl – Zoe Lovibond – St Helens and St Kaths – Radley – 21st 2136pts

U17 Woman – Alice Hopkins – Lord Bills – Radley – 2nd 4404 pts

U17 Woman – Rebecca Scott – Banbury – Banbury – 6th 3769 pts

Pete O’Keefe