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Varsity 2024

Match Report

AUTHOR

Leonie Brunning

PUBLICATION DATE:

22 June 2024

ARTICLE:

All anxiety about the weather leading up to the Varsity Match was unfounded, as May 18th turned out to be a wonderfully sunny, warm day- perfect conditions for high quality athletics at Iffley Road. And CUAC athletes delivered- there were plenty of stellar performances. Unfortunately, the points didn’t quite add up, so it was 4:1 matches to the dark Blues in the end. Luckily, just enough trophies to be drunk out of were won in the Matches to ensure smooth post-match celebrations. Any thirsty gaps were easily filled with the help of shoes.


Men’s matches


Noone quite knows how he did it, but Captain Jeremy Dempster Dempsey led the Men’s Blues team to a convincing victory though sadly the only one of the day.

Cambridge short sprints have a new rising star. Fresher Pelumi Babalola, who had already seen a successful BUCS campaign earlier this year, whizzed to a 100m (10.91s), 200m (21.93s), 4x100m treble. This not only earned him three medals in his first Varsity Match, but also a 200m Blue in his first year of representing Cambridge, missing out on the 100m blue by a mere 100th of a second. While a strong overall sprints side for the Men secured victory in the Men's 4x100m.


Oli Hector held up the light blue hurdles with a clean sweep of second places across all the hurdles races. The slowest Mile on record  was won in a great tactical effort by Adam Dray. While Joe Massingham and George Ogden in 5k and Terry Fawden and Thomas Dugre in the 3k steeple took home impressive 1-2’s. With the steeple chasers coming home 30 seconds ahead of the rest of the field unlining their impressive form following Terry’s 2nd and a 3rd place for Thomas at BUCS a few weeks before.


Morgan Treasure hit a huge and long-anticipated milestone in the long jump, joining the club of 7m jumpers, landing at exactly 7.00m. This gained him a fabulous match win, as well as a Blue. Barnaby Corry claimed pole vault glory with a vault of 3.90m. In the cage, Alex Blake-Martin unexpectedly came out on top of the hammer tossers, with a massive PB of 38.35m, while the discus crown was claimed by multisport phenomenon Ikechi Mere, throwing a fantastic 43.44m. This came only two months after his success beating Oxford in the rugby Varsity Match.


The Men’s Seconds Match saw the closest result of the day, with the Alverstones losing out on the win by a mere point. Alex Kingston won the 400mH race in a time of 61.09 - in his second ever time hurdling. Always keen for a new challenge he also tried out shot putt for the first time placing third and rounded out his day with some High Jump. The Seconds High jump was won by James Goh (1.65m) and Stefan Schoepf comfortably won the pole vault, surpassing the half Blue standard easily with his vault of 3.30m. There were wins in the horizontal jump as well with Daniel Ekundayo claiming victory in the Long jump (6.22m) and Seb Mobus taking triple jump glory ahead of his cambridge compatriot Baker Lubwama.


On the track, Satoki claimed victory over both the 100m and 200m with Cambridge athletes following home (Owen Branthwaite - 100m, Archie Harper - 200m) to claim the 1-2 in both events. Archie Harper won the 400m in a PB time of 51.8. Cillian Doherty took the win in the mile. Peter Molloy had a strong run in the 5k and Tom Spencer and James Ackland took the 1-2 for the seconds match in the 3k steeplechase.


Women’s matches


On the track Niamh Bridson Hubbard broke the match record in the 800m in a time of 2:06.05 (as well as claiming victory in the mile) and Ella Colbourn placed third in this incredibly strong 800m race, edged out narrowly by Oxford’s Charlotte Buckley. Phoebe Barker broke her own match record set last year in the 5k in a time of 16:28.53. A special mention should go to Niamh Thompson, who came third in the strongest 2k steeplechase race the Varsity Match has ever seen. Her performance of 6:54.57 was not only a new lifetime best and now puts Niamh at the top of the CUAC all-time performance list, but this time was also quicker than the previous Match record.

While Oxford dominated the short sprints, our own sprinters shouldn’t go unnoticed. Kefeshe Barnard PBed in both their short sprints improving by close to 0.5 seconds in the 100m (12.57 w) and nearly 1 seconds in the 200m (26.05) knocking on the door of Blues standard in both events. Fresher Anise Mellodey also had a strong showing in the 100m running a SB of 12.83 in the 100m.


Leonie Brunning once again collected the most points for the women’s Blues team, competing in 5 events (long jump, high jump, shot put, discus, 200mH). She claimed dominant wins in the long jump (5.26m) and shot put (10.93m) ahead of Cambridge athlete Hetta Friend (10.54m) while coming second in the high jump - at equal heights with her light blue teammate Annie Durand-Marandi- securing a maximum of points for Cambridge in the event. She added a third place in both the discus and the 200mH to her other strong performances.


Liz Stevenson showed the huge improvements she's made in the Hammer - throwing 31.09m - having only started learning the event at the beginning of the year. But, it was not quite enough to catch the far throwing dark blues. While the events in the cage went Oxford's way, they were well beaten in the Javelin with Achilles record holder Johanna Schoenecker retaining her title closely followed by Carys Ward who came second.


The Alligators gained an unexpected star hurdler in Anna Schlagenwerth, who is at Cambridge for her year abroad and thus sadly wasn’t allowed to compete on the first team. However, while there was disappointment about her not competing on the first team all around, it was no detriment to her enthusiasm to compete for CUAC in this historic match. While being in a 400mH race without anyone to push her on her way to a more than comfortable win, this factored in less in the 200mH race, which she took in a brilliant 32.00s, and even less so in the 100mH seconds race, which she won in a fantastic 15.61s- a time that would have won the Blues race as well.


The Allies sprinters were able to book some points with a 2nd place for Bryher Smith in the 100m, while Serena Charles ran a superb PB for third in the 200m. Tabby Black also ran a massive PB to win the 400m. Maia Hardman took 2nd place in both 800m and the Mile. Maya Hodgson missed out on the win in the seconds steeplechase by only a second.


Jemima Bland won the javelin with a huge throw of 28.77m. There was a 1-2 for Claire Forey (1.50m) and Nausicaa Ng in the High Jump and Olivia Noble and Talia Turay hopped, stepped and jumped their way to a 1-2 in the triple jump. Janes MIlls impressed with a fantastic PB of 5.17m to claim victory for the Alligators in the Long Jump.


The inaugural Para Athletics Varsity Match


This year’s Varsity Matches saw the addition of a para athletics match. The inaugural Para Varsity Match featured 2 Cambridge and 2 Oxford athletes- Roz Delap and Holly Mawdsley represented the light blue. They both competed in the 100m and 400m wheelchair races, while Oxford had one wheelchair athlete and an ambulant sprinter. The final scores were calculated based on Raza points, which saw an extremely narrow loss by one point for the light Blues. This was despite Roz and Holly’s stellar performances- earning them both personal bests over both distances, both beating the Oxford wheelchair athlete. The Para Match was a brilliant start to something exciting, only growing from here!


All our squads have put in an incredible shift this past year, and while these results were not quite what we had hoped for, there’s a lot to build on in the upcoming year. All eyes are now on next year’s 150th Varsity Match, which will be held at Wilberforce Road. This will also see the 50th year of women being involved in the competition, and of course the 2nd Para Match. It’s promising to be a celebration of athletics, the sport we all love so much!

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