Chichester’s junior athletes produced their best all-round performance of the season with a hard-fought third place in the National Youth Development League fixture at Bournemouth.
After gaining promotion last season the Chichester squad have gradually adapted to the higher level of competition, resulting in numerous personal bests in the course of the match.
To finish ahead of Guildford, winners of the first fixture of the season, and Aldershot & Farnham, nationally renowned for their middle-distance athletes, was a fine achievement.
The all-round strength of the boys’ under-15 squad laid the foundations of the success and nowhere was this more evident than in their two relays.
First the 4x100m quartet were in action and Cameron Airzee, Alex Austin, Lewis Hall and Brandon Bell’s combination of good sprinting and slick baton-changing took them well clear of the opposition for a fast 51.1sec clocking.
With 15 minutes to rest, Bell and Hall were back in action in the longer 4x300m event, this time joined by Ben Collins and Jack Blackman.
After running stride for stride with the equally-strong Portsmouth and Aldershot teams for the first half of the race, Chichester gradually got the upper hand to storm home in 2min 54sec, well clear of the rest and knocking more than five seconds from their own club record set in the previous fixture.
Earlier, Bell, Hall and Austin had given a good account of themselves in the individual sprints while Collins had set a new PB in the 800m, dipping under 2.14 for the first time. Blackman produced a strong finishing burst to win the B string and Kai Terry emphasised the club’s strength in depth as a non-scorer.
Ben Morton knocked another five seconds from his 1,500m best with his first sub 4.50 run to date. Airzee proved a very useful addition to the team as he picked up good high-jump points with Blackman and scored the club’s most surprising double win of the day in the long jump with Collins in support. Both athletes were close to five metres.
Ever-reliable pairing James Gillett and Michael Ackerman were again highly competitive in the throws – there was another win for Gillett in the hammer, while team-mate Ackerman just got the better of things in the shot.
An improving under-13 squad were boosted by strong sprinting performances by Cellan Robinson with Sam Haigh supporting well in the B string. And there was a good team effort from the quartet of middle-distance runners on view.
Jeremy Sharp showed good speed with a PB in the 800m with JJ Staples in support while Harry Sage and Ryan Darwen were closely packed in the 1,500m.
Ethan Brown paired up with Sage for good points in the hurdles and with Haigh for an equally-good result in the javelin. Robinson showed his all-round ability with a good third place in the shot with another newcomer, Harry Talbot, supporting well for third in the B string.
In probably one of the toughest leagues in the south in terms of under-15 girls’ athletics, the Chichester squad stuck well to their task and produced a string of fine performances.
In the sprints Alyssa White, Rachel Laurie and Katherine Scott produced some fast times with Scott and White then producing personal-best jumps in the high jump and Scott teaming up with Emogen Deacon in the long jump to good effect.
Amelia Freeman and Imogen Deacon turned in good times in the 300m while the squad was completed by Kerry Pafford and Natalie Gzik – an essential part of the team throughout the season – in the throws.
For the under-13s there was good sprinting from Holly Heffron in both the 75m and 150m, well supported by Caitlin Brown and Charlotte Rawlinson in the respective B strings.
Emma Farquhar teamed up with Olivia Moranne in the 800m while Charlotte Bullard bravely tackled the 1,200m during the hottest part of the day.
Rosie Compton and Rawlinson produced good hurdling and Compton and Heffron both produced personal bests in the high jump.
Connie Stockman spearheaded the two throws with Brown supporting well to help to give the under-13 girls their best team showing of the season so far.
The squad will look for a repeat performance in the final league match at Horsham on July 19.
1 City of Portsmouth 745pts
2 Bournemouth/Poole/New Forest 689
3 Chichester 546
4 Guildford & Godalming 525
5 Lewes 415
6 Aldershot, Farnham & District 313
7 Horsham Blue Star Harriers 273
8 Havant 179