English Schools' Regional Combined Events – Derby 28/29 June

15 very committed Oxfordshire athletes striving to get through the regional round, of this year's, ESAA combined events (Midland Div) to secure a place in the national finals in September at Exeter.

Some athletes were quite experienced whilst 6 athletes were making their debuts including the entire u15 boys team.

The weekend was to prove eventful in many ways, not least for the 25 event PBs, the 9 total point PBs, but also for one special series of performances from Inter Girl Jade O’Dowda who scored 4926 pts to take her to 8th on the All Time Heptathlon list! A performance which helped propel the Inter Girls team into first place and a ticket to the National Finals in Exeter in September.

Junior Boys

For the first time in over 10 years we sent 4 boys out in the Junior Boys Pentathlon. Jack Judson (Oxf City), Jack Spencer (Great Milton), Theo Williams and Ben Shakespear (Radley). This was the first time out for the boys and they thoroughly enjoyed the competition. The weather was really unpleasant with thunderstorms all day. All four had PBs with both Jacks having 2 and Theo one whilst Ben had 4! The boys did really well with Jack Spencer putting together a good enough sequence to finish 2nd overall and this gave him an invite to the Nationals.

Inter Boys

The two Inter boys Ollie Stacey and Blake Strickland Bennett (both Radley) competed in the u17 Octathlon. Using this weekend as a training substitute (as both have been busy with GCSEs) the guys had no ambition to get through to the finals but did need to have a run out in a competitive environment to prepare for the SEAA and National champs to come. Having said that once the competition started both men started to compete hard with both having PBs in the shot, 400 and 1500 mts. Blake then had a javelin pb whilst Ollie had a long jump pb. Ollie went on to finish 6th overall with 3936 pts which may prove enough to gain him a wildcard place for Exeter.

Senior Boy

Tim Stephens has battled away for 6 years solid to win the regional title and in his final year in the mens' decathlon he finally succeeded in taking the tile – perseverance pays off, as well as many, many hours spent honing his technical skills in the 10 events. He is a modest and charming young man who has represented this county with great aplomb and with another 2 pbs over the weekend he goes to Exeter in great form ready to take on the rest of England with a real chance of a national title. He is a role model for us all!

Junior Girls

With her experience of last year to call on Holly Griffths-Brown lead the u15 girls pentathlon team. All 4 girls are from Radley with Kylah Rowlands and Zoe Lovibond being 2nd years and Matilda Donaghy being a first year, preparing her to lead next year's team.

The girls were all fairly competent across the 5 events and if they could approach their individual bests they stood a great chance of winning the team event. With only Kylah and Holly getting a pb it would prove a step too far this year. With the team just missing out it came down to whether Holly could go through as an individual and entering the 800mts in 3rd place she just had to hang on to guarantee an invite – sadly she was beaten into 4th spot and now must await the 9 wildcard spot invites are announced once all the rest of the countries results are in.

Inter Girls

Jade O’Dowda (Oxf City), Petrina Chantler Edmond, Tori Harte (Both Radley) and Rebecca Scott (Banbury) started as favourites for the Inter Girls title. This was due to the presence of last years National Champion, Jade. Jade was to prove unstoppable in the competition and she was so far ahead that she didn’t actually have to compete in the 800mts to still win! She was ably supported by Rebecca in 8th and Petrina in 9th with Tori in 15th, despite not having a scoring throw in her best event, the javelin!

Despite only 3 pbs between them (showing that they have much more to give) the girls won by some margin and will go to Exeter as potential champion contenders.

So a great weekend with the additional bonus that as she was on international duty, Alice Hopkins gained a bye straight to the finals. This means that definitely going to Exeter will be 7 athletes with two further awaiting the wildcard decisions. If they do get a chance to go this will be the most successful regional team for 12 years – well done team(s) and onward to the Nationals!

IF you are interested in getting into next year's teams place give me a call – and start training now!!

Pete O’Keefe