On a bright Wednesday afternoon, Exeter University Athletics Club got their year off to a perfect start with an overall win in the first track and field event of the season, The Southern Varsity Welcome Games, held at Exeter Arena on 14th October.
Converging on Exeter for The Welcome Games were teams from Bristol, Cardiff, UWE, Gloucestershire and Plymouth. The meeting, boasting track events ranging from 60 to 3000 metres and field events from long jump to shot put was the first chance of the year for both new and returning track and field athletes to don the EUAC vest. For some, such as our own Great Britain International Nicole Kendall, the event was a chance to set a benchmark time from which to build throughout this winter’s training period. Meanwhile for those new to athletics it was a chance to get their first time (or distance) registered on the UK’s rankings website, as is required in order to compete at both the BUCS indoor and outdoor events later in the year.
Considering the end result, the day started slowly from Exeter’s point of view. The first event, the long jump, came and went without a win for either the men or the women. However things quickly improved with the second event of the day, the 60m sprint. Club captain Nick Logan and fresher Callum Crossan both registered times of 7.5 seconds for joint second place in the men’s. Meanwhile second year Becca Silk ran 8.9 seconds for joint first in the women’s.
The 60m sprints turned out to be the first of a long chain of events to produce podium finishes for EUAC. Joe Donkin finished 2nd in the 3k with a strong run. Then in the 200m Glenn Etherington, a 110m hurdler usually, stormed away from everyone to win comfortably. Track and field captain Liv Dyer followed Etherington and won the women’s event. Meanwhile in the men’s shot put Matt Blandford, a BUCS finalist last year for both the discuss and javelin, frankly shattered the competition, winning by five and a half metres. Elsewhere in the field Exeter won both the men’s and women’s high jump.
Back on the track, a strong turn out in the women’s 3k race saw Exeter place 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th, with 3rd going to Emma Chan. Sarah Kearsey gained 2nd in the 400m and Kendall, running the 800m largely as a training session, still won by two seconds.
The day finished with the relays, of which EUAC won all four to cap off a brilliant afternoon. This year Exeter have arguably their strongest team for a number of years and the results of the Wednesday afternoon go some way to proving this point. The challenge now for EUAC is to improve on the benchmark set at the Welcome Games. Come the business end of the athletics season, there can be little doubt that it will happen.