Chichester’s new crop of under-17 athletes showed great form in their Youth Development League match at Ealing to finish ahead of Havant and a strong Bournemouth squad and within reach of the top places in the league.
With all but two of the 18 athletes in action having just come up from last year’s successful under-15s, the future for the older age groups looks the healthiest for the club for many seasons.
It was in the final track event of the day that Chichester’s women made their mark by breaking the three-minute barrier for the first time to record 2min 58.19sec to propel them into 14th place in the UK rankings.
They were a couple of strides away from winning the race, just pipped by Guildford and Godalming.
A strong lead-off from Grace Wills was followed by an impressive leg from Rachel Laurie to hand over to Eloise Lane who had already run an individual 300m.
By this time Chichester and Guildford were well clear of Ealing, Aylesbury, Bournemouth and Havant and it was left to sprint specialist Alyssa White to chase her rival.
Eating into Guildford’s lead throughout her leg White was just unable to get in front before the tape – but the quartet were elated by their performance and have the potential to go even faster later in the season.
All the girls had competed earlier in the match to good effect with White a runner up in the 300m hurdles and breaking the 50-second barrier in her first attempt at the event.
A speedy 200m followed with Laurie also in action over both 100m and 200m.
The club’s strong sprints squad in this age group was shown with Emily Guiry and Ella Wilcock also in action, giving the club strength in depth they have rarely had in this age group.
The middle-distance pairing of Grace Wills and Florence Smith battled hard in both 800m and 1,500m with Wills just outside 2.30 and 5.00 respectively.
In the throws, a new pairing of Sophie Lockyer and Charlotte Stemp joined forces for the shot with both girls over the 8.50m mark. Then in the discus both were well over 20m, making them a competitive pairing.
With Stemp opting for the hammer as her third event, Lockyer joined forces with Guiry and Izabelle Cooper in the javelin. All three were on form and Guiry placed second in the A string.
Chichester’s men’s team mainly comprised athletes from last season’s talented under-15 squad and the seven performed with great credit against mainly older opposition.
Brandon Bell and Lewis Hall formed a strong sprint partnership and battled well into a headwind in the home straight in the 100m and 200m.
With times generally slower for all the athletes, their times of just outside 12sec and 25sec respectively were impressive.
Bell went on to join forces with Dom Easton over 400m while Easton partnered Ben Collins in a tactical 800m with Collins on a par with his last season’s best and with only Guildford’s nationally-ranked Harry Boyd in front.
Collins had already won the 1,500m in a new personal best time of 4.17.8sec backed up well by Ben Morton for a winning B string.
Morton went on to partner Luke Campbell for another double-winning combination in the 3,000m with Campbell a stride away from breaking the ten-minute barrier with Morton just a few seconds adrift.
Campbell went on to impressively win the steeplechase in a creditable 5.24. Chichester’s only specialist field competitor was thrower James Gillett who had had to get used to heavier implements this year and was rewarded with runners-up spots in shot, discus and hammer.
Chichester’s next match in this league is at the end of June at Bournemouth.
Trundle Hill Race
On a very wet evening, a record field of well over 450 turned out for the Trundle Hill 10k off-road race, part of the West Sussex Fun Run League.
The event resulted in a spectacular clean sweep for Chichester who finished joint top of the team table with maximum points and provided the winner in all four categories.
Notching up his 14th win in this event was 39-year-old James Baker and, after missing last year’s race because of a clash with the Portsmouth Lakeside series, resumed normal service to relegate last year’s winner, Julian Manning from Denmead, into second.
There was no chance of a record this year in the conditions and neither athlete took chances, especially on the slippery downhill stretches from the top of the Trundle Hill.
The women’s race was won by under-20 Karina Bennett, part of Chichester’s Sussex League-winning women’s cross country team over the winter.
Bennett was followed home by Rose Ellis in second place and with Sarah Fenmor Collins in fifth, Anne Sydenham seventh and Alice Sowden ninth, so Chichester comprised exactly half of the top ten.
Chichester also gained a clean sweep in the junior run over a mile. Leo Stallard was too good for the rest of the field in the boys’ race with Harry Sage and Seamus McCormack filling the next two places – while Nina Moranne and Nicole Boltwood made it a double for the club in the girls’ race.
This was especially pleasing for race organiser and West Sussex Fun Run League secretary Jill Renson, who presided over a successful event but saw her home club top every category.
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