Chichester’s senior track and field team were just eight points shy of a famous match victory when they travelled to Horsham in the Southern Athletics League.
The lead changed hands throughout the afternoon between the top three clubs. In the end after four hours of competition, Chichester were denied victory by North Devon but just pipped hosts Horsham and were well in front of Kent-based Holland Sports.
A squad of 20 all played their part but it was two of Chichester’s senior men who stepped up to the mark to make up for a number of absentees from the previous match.
University student and decathlete Charlie Roe is no stranger to tackling a number of events on the same day but he was surpassed by teacher Aaron Hancock who, as well as winning the 1,500m B string, put in two good hurdles performances and did all but one of the eight field events – highlighted by a B-string long-jump win and a new personal best of 12m to win the triple jump.
Roe was in action in eight individual events but capped the day with a trio of A-string wins in the 100m, high jump and long jump.
When it came to the relays, the pair helped their team-mates secure a vital nine points to secure the club’s runners-up place.
There was a promising debut from Owen Seehawong with a sub 12-second 100m and good performances over 200 and in the high jump.
It was good to see Tom Ackerman back to near his best over 200m, 400m and hurdles while the middle-distance events brought good points with James Baker, in his 21st year with the senior team, chalking up wins over 1,500 and 3,000m.
Good support came from under-17 duo Sam Reading and Adam Croad while club chairman and over-60 competitor Tom Blaylock was pressed into service in the steeplechase for a vital four points which proved crucial.
With a dozen athletes in the women’s team there were fine performances in both track and field.
What is most encouraging for the club is that no fewer than eight of the women’s team are still in the under-17 age group, two are under-20s, one an under-23. The final competitor is team manager Jenny Nunn, who played her part with five crucial points for second place in the hammer.
Under-17 Rose Ellis led from the front on the track with a confident win in the 1,500m, this after she had teamed up with Hannah Croad to score maximum points in the 800m with Croad setting a new personal best to win the A string.
Charlotte Reading combined with Croad in the 400m before joining forces with Ellis with both girls tackling the steeplechase for the first time. Caitlin Moore was back to her best in the sprints with Renae Brown and Mia Faulkner in support while Nathalie Godden showed good speed over the hurdles.
Newcomer Carla Preuss won the B string over the 100m barriers, this after producing the surprise result of the day to win the B string 400m hurdles.
Godden teamed up with Poppy Wildsmith in high jump and javelin, leaving the trio of throwers to complete the fine team effort, and they did not disappoint.
Alex Jarrold produced a new best throw of well over 8m, with the senior 4kg shot teaming up with Chayleigh Jennings in shot and discus and Nunn supporting Jennings in the hammer for six second places from the three events.
Final match score
1 North Devon 346pts
2 Chichester 338
3 Horsham 335
4 Holland Sports 68
The final Southern Athletics League match of the season is on August 2, when Chichester travel to second-placed Yeovil and also face league leaders Plymouth.
- PHIL BAKER