The 20th staging of the Grand Sussex under-13 athletics final involved the top ten Sussex – and Chichester kept their record intact of finishing in the top half of the field in each of those 20 years.
They even improved on last year’s fourth place to finish third.
It was a fine all-round display from the new batch of Chichester’s squad of 22 athletes, including six who were competing for the club for the first time.
The match could not have been more exciting with Chichester fighting for a top-three spot all match, with a resurgent Haywards Heath presenting a major challenge with their best display ever. It came down to the relays with both A and B teams scoring vital points for the girls and boys – and a total of 29 points out of 40 was enough to secure third.
1 Crawley AC 392 points
2 Brighton & Hove AC 348
3 Chichester Runners & AC 272
4 Haywards Heath Harriers 268
5 Horsham Blue Star 226
6 Lewes AC 199
7 Brighton Phoenix 142
8 East Grinstead 135
9 Worthing & District Harriers 120
10 Eastbourne Rovers 49
One of Chichester’s newcomers, sprinter Charlie Sewell, got the team off to a flying start with a quick 10.5 seconds in the 75m. Josh Eaton contested the B string to good effect with third place, giving the team 17 points out of 20.
Josh Dunne teamed up with Sewell in the 150m for the same points tally after Dunne had broken the club record for the 600m with 1.43.6, shaving half a second from the time of Ollie Beach in 2016.
Capable B string Will Bailey was one of six boys from school Year 6 in the team, all of whom will have another year in the age group.
Another pair were Sam Cato and Digby Fulford in the 100m as well as Ollie Meaby in the javelin and Noah Collins in the long jump.
In the final event the quartet of Bailey, Cato, Meaby and Collins surpassed expectations by storming to second place in the B string relay for a crucial nine points, leaving rivals Brighton & Hove and Haywards Heath in their wake.
In the field events, Koby Craig and Oliver Horton gained the club’s only maximum points tally with a double first in the high jump. Craig won the A sting with 1.40m and Horton was too good for the rest of the B string competitors with 1.35. The pair also put in a steady performance in the hurdles.
Another all-new pairing gave a balance to the squad in the throws with Adam Mainwaring and Charlie Anderson gaining an unexpected 17 points in the shot between them while Caiden Robinson made a good pairing with Meaby in the javelin as well as playing a crucial part in the relay with Sewell, Eaton and Craig.
As with the boys, the girls were given a good start to the match in the 75m with Harriet Crow flying to a second place in 10.8sec, ably supported by Emma Cobden for fourth place in the B string.
Crow was joined by newcomer Anya Barrett in the 150m for fourth and second respectively for 32 points from the two sprints.
Barrett showed her versatility with a storming finish in the 600m followed closely by Laila Hellyer, another of the club’s promising group of Year 6 athletes.
Lillie Hellyer ran a well-judged 1000m with sprinter Cobden showing great team spirit by finishing sixth for five crucial points.
Imogen Clifford-Brown ran well in the hurdles and teamed up with Rosie Boult for the high jump and again a newcomer gained a surprise victory, this time in the discus, with Amalie Berry throwing 17.40m, nearly a metre clear of her nearest rival.
Tilly Hobbs, after a steady shot put, teamed up with Berry for a good result in the javelin. With a couple of distance runners filling in for B string field events, the whole team did not have a weakness.