By Jon Grimes
In cold and snowy conditions, Southampton University Athletics and Cross Country Club took their biggest squad for twelve years to Cardiff and produced some excellent results in both the Men’s and Women’s Races.
In the Men’s Long Race, Tom Anderson finished in seventh place and in the process leading the Men’s team to a Sixth place finish overall.
Running in sixteenth place during the first three laps, Anderson, who has only just come back from injury, picked up the pace in the last lap to shake off the runners around him before kicking with 200m to go, out sprinting last year’s Silver Medallist Ross Murray in the process.
Second home for the team of six was Steve Connor. Fourth in the Surrey Cross Country Championships in January, Podiatry student Connor ran a well paced race to finish 16th, in turn beating a number of athletes he used to train with when he studied at St Mary’s University.
Next to finish was final year Medic John Collier, who after a fast start (his first mile was in 5:02), finished in 93rd place, a fantastic showing at his last BUCS Cross Country Championships.
In quick succession, Jack Gregory and David Lewis then crossed the finish line in 102nd and 104th respectively. Gregory, making his second appearance for the University after a 159th place finish at Birmingham last year, produced an even better run this year and along with Fresher Lewis, will mean there will be high hopes for the team next year. Last home for the team of six was Andrew Sweeney in 176th, a fantastic debut considering Sweeney only started running competitively last September.
In the second race of the day, Women’s Captain Sophie Darling brought the team home with a fine individual run of 131st. Missing GB-represented athletes Elinor Kirk and Louise Webb through injury, it was always going to be hard going for the Women’s team, but with some fine scoring performances from Freshers Martha Neal and Nadia Papasidero, the team finished one place better than last year in 33rd. Also competing were Hannah Davies, Laura-Jane Chisnall, Jenny Rhodes and Alicia Stanley who all showed real determination in the freezing conditions to finish quickly under the loud support from the Southampton team in the home straight.
Southampton entered fifteen men into the last event of the day, the Men’s B Race. The team, with thirteen making their debuts at this event, put in some fantastic performances, with SUTRI athletes Jake Bradley and Duncan Street first home in 126rd and 149th respectively.
Next up for the Athletics and Cross Country Team is the BUCS Indoor Championships at the end of the month, before a much anticipated meeting with Portsmouth at Varsity in March.