Chichester’s 25-athlete squad produced a fine all-round performance in a Southern Athletics League fixture at the Mountbatten Centre in Portsmouth – despite many first-team regulars missing.
Among the five clubs in the match, Chichester were against the top three clubs in the league and managed to beat Winchester in finishing third in the match.
1 Portsmouth AC 309pts
2 Newquay & Par 265
3 Chichester Runners & AC 238
4 Winchester & District 232
5 Swindon Harriers 221
One of the club’s strengths this season has been the ability to field good-class competitors in the middle -distance events, even with absentees for each match.
The previous fixture’s pair of Jo Corbett and Liam Dunne were unavailable but James Baker plus university students Will Boutwood and Ben Morton all returned.
In addition triathlete Leo Stallard and Conrad Meagher were having their first track league outings of the season, making Chichester’s middle-distance squad the strongest on show.
Boutwood and Baker were deprived of maximum points in the 5000m only by a sub 15-minute Winchester athlete while Stallard and Morton had similar success over 1,500m.
Potter was joined by Meagher in the steeplechase after Boutwood and versatile Toby Payne had make their mark over 800m.
Chichester even had the luxury of Richard Holder and Rick Pullen as non-scorers in the 5000m while Bradley Holder ran well in the steeplechase in his first time over the 2000m distance.
There were some quick times in the sprints where Cellan Robinson and Alex Rivadossi held their own to good effect, with Rivadossi joining with DJ Barth in the 110m hurdles, gaining points which proved crucial in the final outcome.
Barth had joined thrower Andy Hall in his first even attempt at the pole vault with both gaining third places to add another eight points to the Chichester total.
Oscar Hares and Alfie Spurle headed the jumps while Hall was the only throws specialist in the team. A convincing hammer win by over ten metres from his nearest challenger was backed up by solid marks in the other three disciplines with help from Robinson in the discus and shot, while Pullen gained a most unexpected second place in the B string hammer.
To cap an excellent afternoon for the men, the 4x100 and 4x400m relay squads put in their fastest times of the season.
The 11 athletes representing Chichester at Portsmouth were the youngest squad the club have fielded in a competitive senior match. With seven of them graduating from last season’s under-15s, the most senior was just 18.
As with the men, the middle distance runners excelled in damp and windy conditions. Alice Cox-Rusbridge had two fine second places against quality opposition in the 1500m and 3000m, with Nina Moranne and Rose Potter in support gaining 20 points out of 24.
At the end of the match, Nicole Boltwood and Emily Weymouth had a double win in the steeplechase with Moranne having sufficient energy to race as a non-scorer.
Sprinter Rachel Laurie is currently confined to the longer events and produced strong finishes in both 400m and 800m with Amelia Bromell giving good support over 800.
In the opening track event Bromell paired up with Boltwood in the tough 400m hurdles giving the club a good start.
Phoebe Pontet battled well against some quick sprinters from the other clubs while Elise Pullen spearheaded the jumps assisted by the rest of the squad.
Lucie Munday was in action in all four throws with only Alexia Everley to back her up in the hammer, with Chichester’s other throwers on county duty.
It was the team spirit from all 11 athletes which was a major factor in the club’s overall good showing and this was epitomised by the new pairing of Pontet and Weymouth scoring a surprising ten points in the 100m hurdles which kept the club in third place at a vital stage.
Inter-counties under-15 and under-17 match at Erith
Following their performances at the Sussex schools championships, seven of Chichester’s talented juniors competed in the south-east inter-county match at Erith in Kent.
The best performance came from Liam Dunne, representing Hampshire schools, who provided a thrilling performance over 1500m.
In a slow, tactical race, Dunne decided to stay out of trouble at the back of the field over the opening two laps before chasing down the leaders with 700m to go.
A heroic effort saw the Bohunt School student on the shoulders of the leader at the final bend only to lose out by half a second to his Surrey rival, one of the top half-dozen middle distance runners in the UK over 1500m and 3000m.
Joe McLarnon from Ditcham Park had a fine day with a 2.08min clocking over 800m in the junior age group.
In the sprints, Fleur Hollyer was outside her best in the 200m while high jumper Phoebe Boardman was on form with a 1.40m effort.
The three throwers which Chichester were missing from their match at Portsmouth all made the trip to Erith worthwhile with two personal bests and one near-miss. All three were fifth in the respective events, a fine achievement in such a competitive fixture.
Oli Beach was just below his best in the intermediate boys’ discus but managed a fine 38m effort while Maya Solly threw way over her previous-best mark in the girls’ competition with 26m.
Brooklyn Santer-Smith was over ten metres for the first time in the intermediate girls’ shot with a best of 10.07.
Madehurst 10K and 5K
In a new event on the Sussex race calendar, James Baker returned to winning ways at Madehurst, the day after running in the club’s track match at Portsmouth.
On the perfect terrain for the 42-year-old, Baker had Worthing’s Jack Woods for company in the early stages, a dangerous athlete.
No-one in the area is more experienced at judging the pace of off-road races over a variety of terrains and Baker gradually put daylight between him and the rest of the field to finish in a time of 35min 35sec for an emphatic victory by 90 seconds.
Harry Sage was a good fourth in the 5k event in 22.08.
Chichester Runners & AC made a successful bid to Club Run in an England Athletics programme offering clubs a series of practical coaching sessions led by experienced coaches.
The idea is to support runners, leaders and coaches in working towards improved performance at a specific event or race distance.
Last week the club had their first session with Tom Craggs. He has been coaching for mor than ten years and is an England team coach and team leader for events such as Frankfurt Marathon in 2018, the Reykajavik Internal Games and the Parelloop 10km.
Members found his visit really useful and two more sessions with him are planned over the summer.