Chichester’s senior men’s team pulled off one of their most remarkable feats in their 20 years in track and field athletics when they narrowly pipped ex-national champions Belgrave Harriers in the joint men’s and women’s match at Crawley.
Lack of numbers in the women’s squad meant they had to settle for third place overall behind winners Belgrave and runners-up East Grinstead, but the tally in the 19 events in the men’s match was 149-148 in Chichester’s favour.
With just seven athletes in the men’s squad, including four of their talented under-17s who are limited to three events during the day, it was left to the three seniors to come to the rescue and ensure all 34 A and B string places were covered.
James Baker shouldered the responsibility of the three middle-distance A string events, leaving decathlete Charlie Roe and multi-eventer Aaron Hancock to fill in the remaining 19 gaps in the teamsheet.
Roe put behind him his disappointment in the recent national decathlon championships - where he had the misfortune to record three fouls in the long jump in the second of the ten events to put paid to any chance of overall success.
His day at Crawley started with success in both the shot putt and high jump as he jogged between the two events at different ends of the stadium.
He then filled in for another win in the B string 800m before tackling the hammer throw for the first time. That’s an event he intends to master in a long-term goal to compete in a rarely-held double decathlon over 20 different events.
A win in the long jump, which earned him man of the match, was followed by a B string 400m win and second place in the pole vault.
Roe returned to winning ways with a hat-trick of victories in the hurdles, javelin and triple jump before setting a personal best with his sixth and final throw in the discus for a close second place.
Not content with the 11 individual events, he finished the match with a leg of the 4x100m relay and a club record of 51 points from a single match.
While Roe was setting records, Aaron Hancock had perhaps just as arduous an afternoon by joining Baker in the three middle-distance races, this after an 800m with Roe, and recording two B string hurdles victories and showing prowess in the field events.
He notched second in the pole vault and had a surprising win in the B string long jump for a personal tally of 36 points, itself near to the previous club record.
Baker looked in control again in the 5,000m and steeplechase, though the gusty wind put paid to thoughts of fast times.
Sprinters Collins Alfred and Jake Emerson battled against the conditions and fast sprinters from the other clubs and also picked up useful points in the field events, where Matt Dodd provided some good performances in the throws.
There was triple A string success for Tom Ackerman, who proved too good for the rest in the 200m and 400m and surprised himself and the team with a win in his first attempt in the 400m hurdles, which gave the club a winning start to the day.
With many of the senior women’s squad in action at Basingstoke for the schools inter-counties, just four athletes did well to contest 14 events and pick up nearly 50 points in the process.
Alex Fryday started things off with a win in the 100m, one of the few occasions the superb Belgrave women were beaten during the day.
With Caitlin Moore also starting with a win in the B string, a maximum ten points for Chichester were savoured.
The pair had to be content with runners-up spots in the 200m as well as the jumps, with Jade Bailey gaining a B string second place in a high-quality long-jump.
Bailey was joined by Clare Fraser to tackle shot, javelin and hammer, picking up just enough points to get Chichester over the 200 barrier for the first time in their four years in the league.
The next senior fixture is on July 20, when Chichester do battle with home club Hastings, Kent team Invicta AC and a joint Haywards Heath and Lewes squad.