A team of more than 40 athletes produced one of Chichester’s best-ever junior results in coming a close third out of eight clubs at their opening Development League match at Sutton.
With a strong winning all-round performance from Walton AC, Chichester were pipped by a mere 16 points by Aldershot & Farnham for second place with the remaining five teams more than 50 points in arrears.
Chichester’s under-15s produced the best performances of the day in both the boys’ and girls’ categories.
The under-15 girls scored most heavily in the sprints with Alyssa White and Rachel Laurie leading from the front.
White began the day by winning the 200m in a new personal best of 26 seconds, which secured her third top UK ranking of the season to go with her 100m and 300m marks.
Laurie, running in the B string, made it a double win for Chichester and the pair continued with wins in the 100m for White and the 300m in a massive new PB of 44.2sec for Laurie, not far from English schools standard.
There was support from Roberta Collyer and Caitlin Brown to make up the full squad of sprinters.
Chichester’s middle distance quartet put in a solid showing with Coco Smythe and Heidi King in the 800m followed by Xenia Truman and Rosie Sloane in the 1500m, but with multiple national champions Aldershot involved, they knew the top three places were going to be difficult.
In the field events, Smythe partnered Anna Conlon in the high jump while Amelia Freeman was on fluent form in the hurdles and partnered Eloise Lane in the long jump before the pair joined forces with White and Connie Stockman for a thrilling win in the 4 x 300m relay.
White anchored the quartet and swooped to victory down the home straight.
Equally important were the throws, where Alice Walford was joined by Stockman for good points in hammer and javelin while Eleanor Lowes was supported by Josie Pratt in the shot and Brown in the discus.
In the boys’ under-15 events, two middle-distance runners provided the highlights while Chichester’s only double win came more unexpectedly in one of the throws.
After a fine winter in cross-country, Ben Collins was eager to show his form on the track and gave a confident display of front-running in the 800m.
Holding himself back by going through the bell at 63 seconds, Collins drew away from the field to break the 2.10 barrier for the first time with 2.09.6, beating one of Aldershot’s rising stars by six seconds.
Will Broom ran a fine tactical race in the 1,500m, making a break for the line with half a lap to go to win by a couple of seconds. As useful back-up, Leo Stallard and Harry Sage produced a couple of third places in the B strings.
In the sprints, Lewis Hall and Cellan Robinson kept up the club’s momentum and totalled 28 points from the 100m and 200m with Hall notching a good third place in the 300m and Broom a solid B string.
In the field events there was a PB clearance of 1.60m for Harry Carter in a competitive high-jump competition with the top four jumpers all clearing between 1.60 and 1.68, ranking all in the UK top 50. Carter partnered Collins for useful points in the long jump.
As with the girls, the boys’ throwers were an integral part of the team. James Gillett led from the front in discus and hammer, partnered by newcomer George Moore, then went on the win the shot with a new best of 9.32.
Robinson did well in his first match in this age group to win the B string with a fine 8.83.
The 4x300m relay quartet of Collins, Stallard, Sage and Broom were pipped by just half a second by Walton but showed great team spirit by fighting to the line.
With most of last year’s under-13 squad having moved up into the under-15s, where they performed with great credit, it was left to just a handful of experienced athletes to lead virtually a new team of 13s to do battle.
Despite being new to competitive track and field athletics, they showed much promise.
For the girls, leading from the front was Maya Shankar with two fine runs in the 75m and 150m. Both races involved a blanket finish with Shankar being awarded second place in the shorter event in a new personal best of 10.6sec and coming out on top in the 150m with a 21.7 clocking to pip the Woking athlete.
Good support was given by Fleur Hollyer in the 75m, one of the new Year 6 athletes on view, while Jemima Laurence fought through the field to snatch second place in the 150m.
There was much to celebrate in the 800m with Charlotte Bullard and Imogen Laurence gaining two runners-up spots while 1,500m pairing Nina Moranne and Nicole Boltwood had their first taste of club match competition and battled well.
Reserve Gracie Roberts added another good performance in the non-scoring 800m to increase the club’s options.
Another newcomer Emily Russell had a solid long jump and showed her prowess in a fast non-scoring sprint while Jemima Laurence and Maggie King picked useful points in javelin and shot.
The boys’ under-13 squad was equally as impressive – not a single one of the seven had competed for the club in a match before.
The four middle-distance runners had shown good form in the Corporate Challenge road races and Tom Davy and Liam Dunne put in a good showing in the 800m and 1,500m respectively with Davy notching a good third place in the 800 while Dunne was set to repeat the placing uintil the last few metres of the 1,500m.
Teddy Phillippo and George Ashby provided good support before going on to the javelin and long jump, where Archie Lyne offered good B string support.
Jonathan Simmons and Jake Farquhar were not daunted by the strength of the opposition in the sprints and added a useful 12 points to the total.
Final match score
1 Walton AC 720pts
2 Aldershot & Farnham 580
3 Chichester 564
4 Woking AC 511
5 Horsham Blue Star 481
6 Sutton & District 377
7 Reigate Priory 340
8 Havant AC 198
by Phil Baker