Preview: Strong field set for BUCS Cross Country Champs

Will BUCS debutante Emelia Gorecka’s form continue to see her secure victory in Leeds?

GORECKA,EMELIA-3-L'pool11.12 copyright Mark Shearman

In 2012, Hannah Walker won the women’s race from Louise Small and Leigh Lattimore and while Walker won’t return, the 2013 entry looks even stronger.

Manchester Met’s Jessica Coulson was only fourth in 2012, but this winter she has moved up a class and won the European under-23 title and finished fourth at Edinburgh, and will start on Saturday as marginal favourite.

It wouldn’t be a surprise though if she was challenged by BUCS debutante Emelia Gorecka (pictured), who, European U20 race aside, has been virtually unbeatable in junior competition over the last five years. The teenager, running for University of London, won the junior race at Edinburgh and can probably boast the superior 3000m/5000m speed of all participants.

Last year’s runner-up Small hasn’t shown the same form this winter yet, having only been seventh at the Cardiff Cross Challenge. Her St Mary’s colleague Lattimore also hasn’t approached her 2012 form and was only 24th in the European trial at Liverpool and St Mary’s may find it hard to defend their title.

More likely to be challenging for a medal based on her current form is Birmingham’s Lauren Howarth whose team will be hoping to go one place better their second last year. She followed Coulson at Budapest, where she was fifth and Edinburgh where she was tenth, and she should also be in the medals.

Loughborough’s Liz Potter was 17th in the European event and is another who should be among the leaders.

Edinburgh’s Rhona Auckland and Dundee’s Morag MacLarty were one-two in the Scottish event in November and Auckland looks to have significantly improved since her 21st last year.

Another Scot who could be a factor is Newcastle student Emily Stewart. She ran a fast 3000m in January and a few days later was the leading Briton in the short distance race at Edinburgh, level with Vivian Cheruiyot.

One mature student who could be a factor is Leeds’ very own Susan Partridge, who won the Yorkshire title in January.

Cambridge’s American Alison Greggor won the inter-varsity match and indeed all her four races in Britain, and looks certain to be in with a shout for a top placing.

The men’s race doesn’t appear to have the same quality. Swansea’s Welsh senior champion Dewi Griffths ran in the under-23 race at the Europeans and was sixth at the Cardiff Cross-Challenge and looks a likely medallist.

St Mary’s can boast two fast track men in their team. The last time Ross Murray ran on the country he was ninth last year and he has since run in the Olympic 1500m but he may lack the endurance to aim for a medal this time.

Charlie Grice ran 3:57.90 for the mile while a junior in 2012, but he has improved his endurance this winter, finishing second in the European trial at Liverpool and ninth in the European event and may be the stronger medal chance.

They also have Ryan Saunders, fourth last year in their squad, though he has no known form since that 2012 race. His team won last year but Hay’s Birmingham team were runners-up and could go closer this year.

Bedford’s Jack Goodwin was eighth last year and ran in the world universities but is another who has no winter form.

» Men’s race (9.80 km) – 12:00, Women’s race (6.55 km) – 13:00, Men’s B race (7.5 km) – 14:00

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