Four seasons into the LUCA outdoor series’ existence, King’s are on the verge of regaining the trophy they last won in the inaugural season but have since lost out on to UCL. After KCL took a surprise 61-point lead at Parliament Hill, UCL and Imperial were bound to mount an assault at Lee Valley. However, the King’s contingent not only weathered the storm, but stretched their lead further to 94.5 points. It was, however, a much closer-run affair this time around, Imperial finishing the day with a tally only 12.5 points short of KCL’s total of 203.
Kerstin Pohlmann led the charge for KCL, claiming 28 points to bring her own tally to 52; she now sits top of the MVP table, her 28 points coming courtesy of a third place 100m hurdles finish (Simone Baxter of SMU and Marta Van Ginkel Gonzalez of ICL finishing 1st and 2nd respectively); 1st place in both the long jump (UCL’s Juliette Champaud finishing runner-up) and triple jump (Marta Van Ginkel Gonzalez of ICL finishing 2nd); and 2nd place in the high jump (behind teammate Sarah Jordan) and shotput (behind compatriot and LSE athletics captain Anna Baernreuther). Imperial’s Alex Mundell is hot on Pohlmann’s heals in the MVP table, having entered five individual events herself and winning the 400 hurdles (SMU’s Simone Baxter finishing 2nd) and 800 (just ahead of KCL’s Francesca Ashworth) on her way to picking up 22 points for her team. She now has 45 points to her name across both meets, though will no doubt be eyeing up Kerstin Pohlmann’s slender 7-point lead as well as looking over her shoulder, UCL’s Juliette Champaud being a mere half a point behind her after entering 6 individual events on the day and winning points in each one.
In the men’s 110m hurdles, ICL’s Sean Bazanye-Lutu finished 1st, ahead of KCL’s Thomas Cavailhes. The King’s athlete also claimed 2nd place in the 400m hurdles, behind ICL’s Noel Rimemsberger. In the women’s 200m, Chloe Hocking (KCL) again finished 1st and Shannon Anderson (SMU) 2nd, the women’s 100 also providing the same top two combination. Elsewhere, the women’s 2k steeplechase provided maximum points for ICL’s Anna Lawson, RVC’s Angharad Jenkins taking second place. In the men’s 3k steeplechase, ICL’s Oliver Newton and LSE’s Joseph Shaw finished in 1st and 2nd respectively. Newton also finished 3rd in the 1500 (behind ICL’s James Millett in 1st and UCL’s Christopher Allison in 2nd), putting him in contention for a medal in both events. In the women’s 1500m, Emma Rowland of KCL finished 1st (ahead of UCL’s Angharad Flower), putting her in overall 1st place with 12 points. Teammate Laura Fitzgerald, with 6 points across both meets, is in a good position to push for a medal of her own.
At the young age of 18, SMU’s Keano-Elliott Paris-Samuel will be confident of taking the LUCA men’s 100m record in due course; although he was unable to challenge for it on the day, he finished 1st in 11.03 – a mere 0.01s off his PB – and ahead of teammate Emmanuel Owolabi in 11.20. Paris-Samuel also equalled the LUCA men’s 200 record of 22.19, finishing ahead of KCL’s Pierre Walker. Nevertheless, despite the dreary, drizzly conditions ill-suited to record-breaking, a number of new championship records were set in the longer distances. Earlier on, UCL’s Hugo Fleming set a new men’s 800 best of 1:58.81, finishing ahead of ICL’s James Millett in 2nd. On the field, UEL’s Carrey Hollick broke her own LUCA Hammer Throw record with a distance of 14.78m
As the day drew to a close, KCL’s men’s 4×100 team ran 45 seconds flat to set a new LUCA record. Not to be outdone by their rivals, UCL set a new men’s 4×400 best immediately after, running 3:42.10 and finishing 1.12s ahead of KCL. Going into the final meet, UCL and LSE are tied on 11 points each for the 400 relay, while KCL have 10 points, meaning the showdown at Battersea will likely be a winner-takes-all affair. Likewise, in the men’s 4×100, UCL and the KCL B team are tied at 9 points each, while the KCL A team will be confident of picking up more than the requisite 3 points needed to seal overall victory. KCL women’s 400 and 100 relay teams won again, putting them in a comfortable 4-point lead over UCL in both events as they go for gold.
KCL claimed the double in both the men’s and women’s 400m, sprints and distance captains Chloe Hocking and Francesca Ashworth demonstrating that the 400 is truly the bridging discipline between sprinting and middle-distance by battling it out for gold in the women’s event and finishing a mere 0.09s apart. In winning, Ashworth made up for the frustration of falling a fraction of a second short of an 800m victory earlier in the day, and set herself up to claim 400 gold at the final meet.
Continuing their success, KCL almost claimed a 1-2-3 in the men’s 400m, president Harry Browning putting in a typically solid performance to win and set a new personal best of 51.99 – his first sub-52 run. With track running out, Daniel Woodburn just about clawed back 2nd in the final stretch to give himself hope of sealing silver at the final meet, while Kareem Selman-Jackson ran his first ever 400 in an impressive 54.22. However, Imperial’s Johan Fredrik Svele broke up the field in claiming third and a valuable 4 points in the race to topple KCL.
In the mixed 5000m race, Barts runner William Stanley set up an exciting decider in the final meet by beating UCL’s Henry Murdoch, who won the event at Parliament Hill. Despite improving his time by over 11 seconds, the UCL runner was unable to catch Stanley down the home straight. Although he beat Murdoch by a tight margin of 1.75s, Stanley’s winning time of 15:42.70 was an impressive 20.5s faster than his own time at Parliament Hill. His victory leaves the gold medal race delicately poised at 12 points apiece, though Murdoch had his work cut out for him in finishing 2nd as Imperial’s Harry Scriven pushed him all the way, finishing a mere 0.24s behind. Nor is it a foregone conclusion that gold and silver will go to either Stanley or Murdoch: Andres Chau (UCL) knocked 10 seconds off his track 5000m PB in-between the two meets. Sitting in third place with 7 points, he could be a dark horse at Battersea. Angharad Flower of UCL leads the medal race with 12 points after bettering her 2nd place finish at Parliament Hill. Charlotte Eley and Ula Krajinska (both KCL) sit in joint 2nd place with 7 points each.
In the men’s field events, UCL’s Christian Pugsley jumped to victory in the long jump with 6.17m. tightening his grip on the gold medal in the process after finishing 1st at LUCA 1. Imperial’s David Weng Wei Fong finished 2nd, significantly improving on his 5th place finish at Parliament Hill and putting himself well in contention for a medal. In the high jump, Imperial completed the 1-2 with Sean Bazanye-Lutu and Noel Rimemsberger (winners of the 110m hurdles and 400m hurdles respectively). Bazanye-Lutu also took 1st place in the men’s triple jump, ahead of UCL’s Joshua Hia who is now on 12 points in the race for gold. In the shotput, Daniel Cork (RVC) repeated his 1st place finish from LUCA 1 while Raul Rinken (ICL) finished 2nd – one place better than at Parliament Hill.
In the javelin throw, Artur Jurgenson of Imperial threw 41.98m, Michael Dzandu of Reading claiming 2nd place with a throw of 37.24m. In the women’s event, Anna Baernreuther of LSE threw 26.29m, KCL’s Christina St Clair following up her 1st place finish at LUCA 1 with 2nd place, putting herself in a good position to go for gold. In the discus throw, Raul Rinken claimed 1st with a throw of 39.23m, while Daniel Cork took 2nd place with 27.88m, giving them 12 and 9 points respectively over both meets. As for the women, LSE athletics captain Anna Baernreuther’s 23.03m earned her 1st place, Carrey Hollick claiming 2nd with 18.6m, giving her the lead in the battle for gold. Alex Mundell claimed a further 5 points for ICL in the hammer throw with 11.46m (behind Carrey Hollick and her club record), while Daniel Cork of RVC continued his excellent form on the field in claiming 1st in the men’s event (35.73m), ahead of Raul Rinken of ICL (20.77m)
Finally, in the men’s mixed event championship match – consisting of shotput, high jump, 100m and 1500m – Imperial’s Noel Rimemsberger dominated, winning three of the four events and coming 3rd in the 1500m. Teammate Jack Mitchell showcased the importance of consistency in multi-discipline events, finishing 3rd in the shotput, 2nd in the high jump, 4th in the 100m and 2nd in the 1500 to take 2nd place overall. Emmanuel Owolabi of SMU made up the podium in 3rd place. The women’s event – consisting of shotput, high jump, 200m and 800m – was less hotly-contested, with only two entrants. This should not detract from Juliette Champaud’s (UCL) win though, as her success across the many disciplines she entered on the day contributed to putting her well in contention for MVP, in the process supplying an impressive 13% of her team’s total points so far. Nomuna Batmandakh of Imperial took 2nd place.
With the final meet of the series 15 days away and plenty of medals up for grabs, there is still much to play for. Though King’s will be determined not to let their lead slip, high turnouts will be crucial in the push to dethrone them. As if the possibility of pipping KCL to a series win wasn’t incentive enough, the UL outdoor championship will be embedded within the third and final meet. To date, the winner of the overall series has won the UL championship as well; if toppling KCL proves too tall an order, giving them the unwanted label of being the first university to win the series without winning the UL championship ought to provide plenty of motivation.