A spirited all-round performance by a 23-athlete squad kept up Chichester’s momentum in the second match of the Southern Athletics League.
After finishing second of four teams in match one in April, this latest fixture at Winchester was altogether much stronger with five out of the six teams competing fielding some very good athletes.
What was most pleasing in addition was that the club was able to field strong runners in the middle distance races despite sending a strong team to the Bognor 10k on the same day.
The highlight from a club point of view was a new senior club record in the 800m set by teenager Liam Dunne, with previous record holder Jo Corbett competing in the league, 24 years after making his own debut as a 15-year-old.
1 Winchester & District 279pts
2 Team Dorset Combined 275
3 Chichester 243
4 Andover & Overton 204
5 Exeter 136
6 Poole Runners 20
With middle-distance trio of James Baker, Will Boutwood and Mike Houston occupying three of the top four places at the Bognor 10k, there was a welcome return to the team of Corbett, who has been on fine form over road races in recent months.
He was one of the winning Chichester men’s team at the Priory 10k at Goodwood in February and had a 2hr 26min clocking at the Manchester Marathon in April, putting the 39-year-old in the top 50 in the UK rankings.
Corbett started for the club in 1995 as a teenage sprinter and in his 20s had a 22.9sec 200m mark and a 50sec 400m clocking to his credit before setting a club record of 1.56 over 800m.
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At Winchester, it was no surprise he used his finishing speed to stride clear of team-mate Ned Potter over the final lap of the 3000m to record a clocking of 8.54.4.
Potter had led most of the way until the final two laps and was rewarded by a new PB time of 9.05.7 to win the B string and gain maximum points for the club, a feat which the pair nearly achieved in the 1500m later in the match, dropping a single point between them.
The 3000m was one of three events in the men’s match which yielded maximum points, with the 800m and hammer the other two.
It was in the 800m where Corbett had to pass the mantle of the club record holder to another teenager, Dunne, who ran a perfectly judged race. He followed a brisk pace for the opening 600m before biding his time on the final bend on the shoulders of the leader before swooping home in a time of 1.55.8, knocking a staggering two seconds from his previous best – 0.2sec inside Corbett’s 20-year-old record.
There was as much to cheer in the B race as Ben Collins also came through strongly over the last 200m to finish in 1.59.8 making it the first time the club has had two sub two minute performances in the same match.
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Chichester dominated a field event too as the hammer pairing of Andy Hall and Tim Brown were too good for their rivals. Hall was just shy of the 40m mark with 39.17 while Brown’s best of 33.57 was far too good for the rest of the B string competitors.
The pair picked up useful points in shot and javelin while first-year under-17 Oliver Beach tackled his first scoring competition in the senior discus with the 2kg weight to record 28.56 in the A string. The reliable Brown once again won the B string.
There was a new lifetime best of 2.40m for Archie Sadler in the pole vault, another of the senior team who has just emerged from the juniors.
Alfie Spurle joined forces with DJ Barth in the triple jump after forming a good partnership with newcomer Tommy Bentley in the high jump.
Brandon Bell and Cellan Robinson resumed last season’s partnership in the 100m with Bentley backing up Bell in the 200ms and forming an effective partnership with Robinson in the daunting 110m high hurdles.
With a double win in a single event their highlight, the ten-athlete women’s squad were able to pick up useful points across both track and field events.
The double victory came, as with the men, in the hammer with Lucie Munday and Maya Solly getting the match off to a good start and making it the first time Chichester have won all four competitions in the same event.
The pair combined in the javelin and Munday also backed up Millie Grant in the shot and Renae Brown in the discus to make it a profitable throwing day all round for Chichester, with a combined men’s and women’s total of 74 points from the eight events.
Sprinters Fleur Hollyer and Phoebe Pontet stuck to their task against fast times from the other clubs while Olivia Toms and Emily Weymouth formed a highly effective partnership over 800m and 1500ms with Toms even having the energy for a steeplechase time at the end of the match good enough for the UK rankings.
In the jumps Florence Smith and Rosie Compton formed a useful pairing in the jumps, with Brown joining Smith in the triple jump.
The final events were an innovation for the league as the two 4x400m relays were both mixed events for the first time. It made an interesting spectacle as teams could chose the running order, some opting to run one of the men on the opening leg and others giving one of the women runners a chance to lead.
Both Chichester quartets performed with credit with Bell, Solly, Hollyer and Collins just getting the better of the club’s B team of Pontet, Potter, Smith and Spurle. Both teams were just outside the four-minute mark.