Chichester made a strong start to their National Youth Development League campaign in blustery Portsmouth.
Division two on paper looks to be one of the strongest for many years but the 33-athlete squad from Chichester coped well with the competition, especially as more than half the team were making their first appearances in this league.
1 Winchester & District 682pts
2 Chichester 435
3 Camberley 419
4 Woking 329
5 Aldershot, Farnham & District 319
6 Worthing Harriers 272
7 Havant 81
For once Chichester’s girls, rather than their boys, had the stronger squad and this was most clearly seen with the under-15 girls.
Of the 13 athletes in action, four were completely new to club competition, four more had progressed from last season’s under-13s and just five remained from the club’s league team from 2018.
One of these, Sophie Dudman, gave the club the best possible start with a convincing and fluent hurdles victory with newcomer Chloe Noble gaining second place in the B string for near-maximum points.
Dudman was joined by Izzy Holcroft, Cassie Bailey and Eleanor Farquhar in the sprints with all four running well to keep up the club’s momentum.
A new combination of Cerys Dickinson and Amelia McGurk doubled up in the 800m and then, showing a good turn of speed, in the 300m, while Tamsin Anelay used her winter cross-country fitness to good effect in the 1500m.
In the field events, Dickinson and Jamie Gibb formed a useful partnership in the high jump with Gibb clearing 1.35 in tricky, windy conditions. Gibb was joined by Lucy Hollyer in the long jump.
In discus, hammer and javelin, Tatum Anwyl and Ruby Chandler joined forces with Noble to gain a number of top-three placings while Maddie Byers joined the rest of the squad for the relays.
With a number of regulars unavailable for this first match, the six under-15 boys in action did well to amass the points they did for a small squad.
Callum Hale joined Arthur Dearlove in the 100m while Nathan Ewins and Joe Mclarnon were as impressive over 200m and Gabe White joined Hale in the longer 300m after the 800m.
In a testing 1500m into a fierce headwind on the back straight, McLarnon and Hal Edgar finished stride for stride in just outside five minutes.
In the field events, Ewins produced the best performance with a good 1.54 clearance in the high jump for second place in the A string while Dearlove and Hale scored well in the long jump and, in the absence of any specialist throwers, Dearlove and Edgar picked up useful points in the shot.
Under-13 boys and girls
Of the 14 athletes in the under-13 squad for the match, 11 were making their first appearances for the club in a track competition.
It was, however, one of last season’s team – Josh Dunne – who produced the stand-out performance in winning the 800m comfortably with a good turn of speed over the last 200m.
He was supported by Seb Fenmor Collins, one of four Year 6 athletes in the seven-man boys’ team. Another two were in action in the 1500m with Noah Collins and Digby Fulford both doing themselves justice in the challenging conditions.
Josh Eaton and Ollie Meaby ran well in the sprints against some determined opposition for all six of their rivals while Sam Tonks, usually a middle-distance runner, showed his versatility by picking up good point in both high jump and javelin.
Just one of the under-13 girls had competed in track league before and it was Grace Bishop who made her experience count by storming to a second place in the opening event, the 70m hurdles.
With newcomer Imogen Clifford-Brown winning the B string the pair mirrored their under-15 counterparts in gaining near-maximum points. The pair later picked up good points between them in the high jump.
Sinead Jones and Louise Byers formed a new partnership in the 100m as did Carrie Anelay and Ellie Courtney in the 800m.
Middle-distance runner Florence Ingram paired up with Jones in the 1500m while the whole squad showed great team spirit in making sure all four field events – the high jump, long jump, shot and javelin – added vital points to the overall total.