Freshers Varsity Match 2023
11 November 2023
Men’s match: Cambridge 79-49 Oxford
Women’s match: Cambridge 71-71 Oxford
Joint match: Cambridge 155-122 Oxford
Best performance: Jack Lipman (Cambridge, 200m, 400m, 800m, 4x400m)
Special Cambridge mention: Anise Mellodey (100m, 200m, 4x100m)
Despite the ever controversial early November date for an outdoor athletics event, Wilberforce Road was graced with plenty of sunshine for this year’s edition of the Freshers Varsity Match. CUAC Captains Jess and Jeremy managed to compile strong teams on the men’s and women’s sides.
There was great team spirit all around with the newcomers excited to wear the Cambridge blue vest for the first time. But the athletic performances were in no way inferior. Some of the stellar debuts given included the best performance of the day awarded to a very busy Jack Lipman from Cambridge, who won the 200m, 400m, and 800m as well as being part of the quartet of runaway winners in the mixed 4x400.
Action was thick and fast on the track with some brilliant performances despite the cold. Anise Mellodey took the win in the 100m and 200m in 12.8 and 27.4 respectively. She was pushed to fast times in both by tough competition from her fellow Cambridge athlete Maya Vandermark - who had to settle for second in the 200m finishing only 0.1 seconds behind. It was a tougher task for the women contesting the 400m and 800m due to the strong Oxford opposition but there were determined runs from all the athletes involved. The sprint hurdlers impressed with Anna Schlagenwerth winning the 100mH with a half blues time of 16.5. John Bennett also took the win in his 110mH race but was an agonising 0.3 seconds off the half blues time. Pelumbi ran an excellent 100m and was the only athlete to break the 12-second barrier with a clocking of 11.7. The Cambridge men were dominant across the sprints taking 1st and 2nd place in the 100m, 200m and 400m, with Asa Fletcher-Snow and Archie Harper running well in their respective 200m and 400m, crossing the line just behind our man of the match Jack Lipman. Once again a win for Jack in the 800m but behind him James Ackland smashed his previous PB by 11 seconds to hold off Oxford for 3rd.
In the field, there was a near clean sweep for both CUAC’s Men and Women across the horizontal and vertical jumps. Barnaby Corry picked up wins in the Pole Vault (half blues), High Jump and Triple Jump. Supported by Alex Kingston and Stefan Schoepf who helped secure a Cambridge 1-2 in the High Jump and Pole Vault respectively. In the Long Jump - Frederick Liu mustered a massive leap out to 6.43m for half blues with Yuvan Vasanthakumuran having to settle for second but still bettering Oxford’s best by over half a metre.
On the Women's side - Lauren Healy showed her consistency, backing up her excellent Cuppers performance, and vaulted over 2.30m to claim the win and clear the half-blues standard. At the High Jump Nausicaa Ng and Sarag Weersing took 1st and 2nd respectively, soaring clear of Oxford. Jane Mills showed excellent form jumping a Half blues distance of 4.90m to take first in the women's Long Jump, while behind her, it was only a centimetre which separated Katie Thompson from a second-place finish - the position snatched from her by Oxford in the final round.
However, Katie did not let misfortune strike twice during a packed schedule of events and went on to secure solid 2nd places in both the Shot Put and the Javelin. While Hilary Gallito achieved a Half-blues distance with an impressive throw of 10.49m to take the win in the Shot put. Both Hilary Gallito and Liz Stevenson showed real potential as the pair tackled the Discus and Hammer throws, events they had only started training in the weeks leading up to the competition. Gabe Lamb's prior experience showed as he launched the Discus out to a half-blue distance of 35.32m to win the event as well as taking the win in the Shot Put. James McCann had a strong showing across all the heavy throws events throughout the day, a highlight being his 2nd place in the Hammer throw. Whilst in the Men's Javelin, Dan Warnes threw a fantastic personal best of 38.31m, but it was not quite enough to catch the Oxford athletes.
The cherry on top was three outstanding relay wins by Cambridge quartets with large margins over O*ford. The women’s 4x100m (M. Vandermark, A. Mellodey, K. Thompson, A. Schlagenwerth), men’s 4x100m (P. Babalola, E. Adeyemi, Q. Mitchell, A. Fletcher-Snow), as well as the inaugural mixed 4x400m relay all cashed 5 points for the Light Blues.
The Freshers Varsity match showed not only the strength of this new set of CUAC athletes but also the depth - with many events being contested not only by those selected for the main team but by several guests from the Cambridge side. It is brilliant to see so many newcomers keen to compete for CUAC and bodes well for future competitions. The only option now is to watch and wait to see how this new group of talented CUAC members improve and progress during their time with the club.
Overall, this resulted in Cambridge winning the men’s match 79-49 while the women’s match ended in a thrilling draw at 71 points apiece (Oxford retained the trophy as holders). The joint match - to include the inaugural mixed relay - saw a win for Cambridge 155-122. A huge congratulations to all athletes involved.
After a hugely successful day - Jess, our very own women’s Captain, organised a post-match pizza social at St. Catharine’s College bar, which was greatly enjoyed by all teams. A wonderful opportunity for all athletes to get to know each other off the track before Cambridge and O*ford clash again at VFEAR (February 10, 2024, Lee Valley) and the Varsity Match (May 18, 2024, Iffley Road).