Barnicoat Charges to Victory in U20 Men’s Race

By Clay Shaw
Photography by Clay Shaw and Karen Mitchell

Turin, Italy, Piemonte-La Mandria Park, December 11, 2022, SPAR European Cross-Country Championships—Will Barnicoat of Great Britain took advantage of a stumble by Nicholas Griggs of Ireland. Griggs seemingly had the race won, with a clear but small lead on Barnicoat, but a stumble 15 meters from the finish cost him the victory. Barnicoat zipped by and had a one-second victory. 

While Griggs placed second and fellow Irishman Dean Casey placed third, the Irish team placed second to Great Britain. Sean McGinley placed twelfth as their final scorer.

Sam Mills of Great Britain was fourth in 17:54, Luke Birdseye was fifth and Great Britain’s third scorer.  For good measure Edward Bird was ninth, as Great Britain had four men in the top nine.

Jaime Migallon of Spain was happy with his sixth spot in 18:06. Teammate Mario Monreal was eighth and David Cantero was 16th, as Spain earned the team bronze.

The U20 race was 5.772 km and was the first race of the day, starting at 9:35 AM, with a clear sky and chilly temperatures, with frost still on the ground in shaded areas. 

Flash interviews courtesy of the event.

Will Barnicoat, Great Britain, Gold 17:40
“This was a very tough and also very special race for me. It was even more special because of all the support we had from the people around. I was very emotional coming to the finish line. I was thinking about my mum and dad and all their support after all those years. Without them, I would not be here. Normally, they do not go to all my competitions, but they are here today. I was also thinking about all my friends at home. It was a very hard course and in the last lap, I saw the others struggling a bit so I started kicking. I was thinking – OK, this is going to be my chance. Let’s hope for the best. I felt I had still something left. I tried to push myself. I have always had a strong finish. I knew that the race was not over until the end and that was also my plan to fight until the very end. I just started sprinting and it was unbelievable. I still cannot believe it. I have done it, I believed in myself and I harvest the fruits of the hard work. I am also very glad for the British team. I guess I was well prepared even for the hard uphill and managed to stay with the group and be patient until the very end. I just got some coffee in the morning and managed the early wake up well.”

Nicholas Griggs, Ireland, Silver, 17:41
“We really had a race out there, and had to save enough energy to hold on, and go for it after the last run through the house. In the home I had that stumble which obviously came at a cost, but had you told me I would be getting silver, maybe I would be imposing a bit more. Of course, I have very mixed feelings. In that sense, I can’t be disappointed and especially because the weather panned out. About the rest, I had no idea how it was going to go, but after that stumble towards the end, it was not what wanted. It is going to take some time to reflect on, but we have to be supportive. Again, I am not a natural cross-country runner, but maybe I proved everyone wrong. I thought I would go out there and give myself a chance, so I put myself there and be brave. Again, I am disappointed I ended the race. I had it in the bag, but I stumbled and lost momentum, so Will capitalised. Yeah, I was sore for a but I am glad I could help the team, especially helping those lads getting a silver. I am proud of my race today.”

Dean Casey, Ireland, Bronze, 17:46
“It is absolutely amazing that we finished second and third this year. Last year, we didn’t run to the best we can. So, coming out here and finishing second and third is just unreal. Like it’s not more than we can ask for. Last year we were able to identify that pace. We knew these lads would be going out like that because these are the best in Europe, so they were not going to hang around and wait for the last lap. So, last year it was good inspiration for me to get out hard, and have something special saved for the last lap. We only arrived very early in the morning yesterday. So, because of that we did not know how this race was going to go. Like if we were going to be tired or not. I am glad we did well.”

Editor’s Note: In international cross country, U20 means “under 20 years old,” currently born no earlier than January 1, 2003. U23 means “under 23 years old,” or born no earlier than January 1, 2000. Senior currently refers to athletes athletes born 1999 or older. Athletes may choose to move up to the senior division even though eligible for the younger categories. The categories are determined by birth year as opposed to birthdates.

Top Finishers

  1. 17:40 Will Barnicoat, Great Britain
  2. 17:41 Nicholas Griggs, Ireland
  3. 17:46 Dean Casey, Ireland
  4. 17:54 Sam Mills, Great Britain
  5. 17:56 Luke Birdseye, Great Britain
  6. 18:06 Jaime Migallon, Spain
  7. 18:07 Esten Hansen-Mollerud Hauen, Norway
  8. 18:09 Mario Monreal, Spain
  9. 18:09 Edward Bird, Great Britain
  10. 18:10 Ismail Tasyurek, Turkey
  11. 18:13 Taner Tunctan, Turkey
  12. 18:14 Sean McGinley, Ireland
  13. 18:14 Joel Ibler Lilleso, Denmark
  14. 18:15 Ferenc Soma Kovacs, Hungary
  15. 18:15 Stefan Nillessen, Netherlands
  16. 18:19 David Cantero, Spain
  17. 18:21 Noah Konteh, Belgium
  18. 18:21 Callum Morgan, Ireland
  19. 18:21 Pierre Boudy, France
  20. 18:21 Alex Vives, Spain
Will Barnicoat of Great Britain timed his sprint perfectly to win. Sadly, Nicholas Griggs of Ireland had a misstep on the home straight.
Will Barnicoat of Great Britain enjoys the post race media after his come-from-behind win in the U20 race.
SPAR European Cross Country Championships 2022 started with the U20 Men in beautiful La Mandria Park just north of Turin, Italy with a beautiful backdrop of the Alps.
Will Barnicoat of Great Britain was one of a hundred starters trying to get into a good position at the start. He emerged as the fastest of the race in 17:40.
Aarno Liebl of Switzerland, Thomas Windischbauer of Austria, Dragos Luca Pop of Romania, and Nino Jambresic of Croatia compete in the first race of the day, the U20 race of 5.772 km.
With frost still on the course, runners begin another loop. Vivien Henz of Luxembourg, David Cantero of Spain, Sean McGinley of Ireland, Kurt Lauer of Germany, Edward Bird of Great Britain, and Gabriel Timba of France compete.
Sam Mills and Luke Birdseye of Great Britain race against Dean Casey of Ireland, who held them off for third place. Mills and Birdseye placed fourth and fifth, and Great Britain was the top team. Ireland was second.
Nicholas Griggs of Ireland had the lead with the finish banner in sight . . .
Jaime Migallon of Spain was happy with sixth overall, and leading his team to the bronze medals.
Noa Toncinic of Croatia finishes, as does Oliver Annus of Estonia in the U20 race.
Ireland’s U20 team won the silver medal in the U20 race. Mark Hanrahan, Callum Morgan, Sean McGinley, Dean Casey, Jonas Stafford and Nicholas Griggs.


Categories: Race Coverage

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