Women lead charge as Chichester Runners end league campaign with solid show

Chichester's Southern League athletes at Swindon / Picture by Lee Hollyer
Chichester's Southern League athletes at Swindon / Picture by Lee Hollyer

Chichester completed their Southern League campaign at Swindon and cemented their mid-table place in a hard-fought match involving six of the top seven teams in the division.

Once again there was a mixture of youth and experience in the 16-athlete Chichester squad ranging from three 15-year-olds to a couple of over-50 veterans.

Final league table:

1 Newquay & Par 27

2 City of Portsmouth 27

3 City of Plymouth 21

4 Winchester AC 20

5 Team Dorset 20

6 Swindon AC 15

7 Chichester Runners & AC 15

8 Havant AC 14

9 Andover & Overton 13

10 Exeter Harriers 10

11 Team Kennet 8

12 Poole Runners 6

Women’s match

Chichester’s women’s squad was stronger than the men’s with a good range of events from the ten atheltes in action.

Fleur Hollyer resumed sprinting duties after recovering from a muscle twinge at the previous match and was joined by Emily Russell, with both acquitting themselves well despite still being in the under-17 age group and having to compete against more experienced athletes.

Another under-17, Nicole Boltwood, stepped down in distance to compete over 400m as well as her usual 800m where she partnered Rachel Laurie.

Laurie partnered Alice Cox-Rusbridge over 3000m with both giving a good account of themselves before going off to university in September.

Hurdling specialist Phoebe Pontet kept the points tally moving in the 100m contest and over the grueling 400m, where she was joined by veteran Amanda Godfrey, making her return to senior athletics after competing this season in the over-50 age category.

Another final-year school pupil, Florence Smith, spearheaded the jumps with solid performances in long jump with Russell, high jump with Laurie and triple jump.

To complete the well-balanced women’s squad, Brooklyn Santer-Smith was joined by Renae Brown in the throws with the pair picking up good points in shot, hammer and discus – with the quality of the opposition highlighted by a 50m-plus winning hammer throw from one of the promotion-seeking Portsmouth team.

Men’s match

With the bulk of Chichester’s men’s squad unavailable, it was left to six athletes to have a busy afternoon and use their multi-event skills to good effect.

It is a testament to their team spirit that they competed in 30 out of the 34 individual events between them. For the second match in succession Midhurst Rother College teacher Aaron Hancock was the most prolific with a total of ten events, equivalent to doing a whole decathlon in four hours.

Hancock’s feat was all the more impressive as it included all four jumps, high jump, long jump, triple jump and pole vault and six track races including the 5000m.

Newcomer Jacob Blunt joined in with a tally of two middle-distance track races and two jumps while middle-distance specialist Conrad Meagher ran a good 5000m as well as dropping down to 400m and 800m.

One athlete limited by age group rules as an under-17 was DJ Barth but he fared well in the 100m, high hurdles and high jump against some of the best opposition of the season.

Finally newly crowned national over 50 hammer champion Andy Hall led the throws despite being hampered by a shoulder injury, aggravated in the previous weekend’s national championships where Hall successfully retained his crown.

At Swindon, Hall was facing national-standard younger rivals. He and team-mate Jonathan Russell stuck to their task and kept Chichester’s points tally moving in shot, discus, hammer and javelin to bring the club’s season to a more than satisfactory close.