Chichester’s new crop of junior athletes made a winning start to their National League campaign at Portsmouth.
Even though the club were last season’s league champions, Saturday’s performance was all the more impressive as only 15 of last year’s 40-athlete squad was in action at Portsmouth, the majority of whom had gone up into the higher age bracket over the winter.
In addition, two major clubs had entered the division with Winchester and Walton AC both providing strong opposition.
In the end Chichester and Winchester were fighting it out for top spot at the end of the match with Chichester just holding the upper hand thanks to a fine all-round performance from all members of the team.
Having lost the majority of last season’s talented squad, the under-15 boys knew they had to step up to maintain their high standard – which they did.
Jacob Piper and Joe Futers formed a good sprinting partnership over 200m and 200m while the quartet of Liam Dunne, Oscar Hares, Douglas Smith and Tom Hartley covered the distances from 300m to 1500m to great effect, the stand-out performance a dominant 800m winning run from Dunne in an impressive 2min 8sec, the second best ever by a Chichester under-15.
DJ Barth and Jake Farquhar scored near-maximum points in the hurdles with Barth’s lunge for the line to beat his Winchester rival one of the highlights.
In the field events, Gilbert Jones, Futers, Barth and Hartley kept the points coming in high jump and long jump. With javelin thrower Sam Spiby the only specialist thrower at the match, the rest of the squad ensured there were no gaps.
The under-15 girls were luckier than the boys in that the majority of their 2016 athletes were still available for another year. This was especially true in the throws where Alexia Everley and Holly Trinder were joined by last year’s under-13 Millie Grant to score good points in shot, discus and hammer with Freya Chandler joining the trio in the javelin.
In this age group was the only Chichester athlete to notch two A string wins with Emily Shippam having a clear margin over her rivals in both long jump and high jump. Her marks of 4.59 and 1.45 respectively were impressive for the first match of the season.
Chandler and Fleur Hollyer provided good back-up B strings, having already been in action as a good hurdles pairing.
On the track Emily Shippam spearheaded the sprints with Hollyer and Ruby Cousins backing up in the B strings and the quartet of middle-distance runners performed to good effect.
Maggie King and Hannah Carmichael were in action over 800m while Olivia Toms and Nina Moranne scored good second places in the 1500m.
The standard of the under-13s in the south of England has been strong in recent years and 2017 should be no exception.
With no fewer than seven of the nine boys in this age group making their first appearance for the track team, they made up for their lack of experience with a positive attitude ,resulting in a far better points tally than expected.
Joe McLarnon formed a good pairing in the 1500m while Oliver Fuller and Fionn O’Murchu were equally as effective over 800m.
Newcomer Kobe Armah-White led the 100m and 200m to good effect with James Cole and Mclarnnon supporting well in the B strings.
With javelin thrower Milo Nutt just edged out of first place by under a metre, another two newcomers picked up useful points as all-rounders in the field events with Joe Fuller and Roman Watson more than earning their place.
There were good runs on the track from Josh Dunne, Barney McLarnon and Marcus Bone over 800m with James Carmichael in action over 100m.
Chichester scored a rare double win in this age group with Sophie Dudman and Lara Cooke gaining maximum points in the high jump, with the same pair having already picked up two runners-up spots in the hurdles.
There was a near-maximum from Cerys Dickinson and Isobel Buckler in the 1200m while Eva Buckler and Amelie McGurk ran well in the 800m.
Showing great team spirit Lucy Hollyer joined the distance runners to make sure that the rets of the programme was filled with Grace Bishop and Elaenor Farquhar reserves.
Chichester travel to Bournemouth on Saturday May 20 for the next fixture.
by PHIL BAKER
Final match score
1 Chichester 486pts
2 Winchester 479
3 Bournemouth 422
4 Walton 421
5 Woking 420
6 Havant 185
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