Chichester’s under-15 athletes made it a hat-trick of runners-up spots at the Sussex grand final at Brighton’s Withdean Stadium.
It’s the third year in a row the club have claimed second spot, having lost only to Crawley in that time.
Going into the match, Brighton & Hove were favourites to give Crawley their biggest challenge and they were in second place for the first half of the match with Chichester and Horsham tied in third.
However, as the evening progressed, it became increasingly clear the top three were pulling away from the rest with Chichester and Brighton neck and neck behind Crawley, who were by now assured of maintaining their eight-year unbeaten run in the competition.
Virtually-equal points ensued in the 1,500m and two of the final throws but it was only near the end of the evening that the points for the pole vault were added in to give Chichester a 15-point advantage over Brighton to move into second place.
Battling performances from the four relay teams in the 4x100m and 4x300m kept the margin to Brighton at just over ten points to give Chichester the place – and move the club into second place on the all-time club rankings.
The result was a fitting tribute to club multi-event coach Phil Kearney, who had returned to his native Ireland that morning and had introduced the athletes to pole vaulting barely a month before.
With just a single A-string individual victory in the match, a strong sense of teamwork was a major factor in the club’s success with the ability to field two equally-strong competitors in virtually all the 28 events.
The 22-athlete squad battled hard over three hours of competition with A and B strings equally important in the final team total.
1 Crawley 439 points
2 Chichester 367
3 Brighton & Hove 356
4 Horsham 322
5 Worthing 259
6 Lewes 253
7 Eastbourne 187
8 East Grinstead 178
9 Brighton Phoenix 95
10 Haywards Heath 69
Overall league table (2010 -2017)
1 Crawley 80
2 Chichester 66
3 Brighton & Hove 65
4 Horsham 46
5 Lewes 41
6 Eastbourne 38
7 Worthing 30
8 East Grinstead 26
9 Haywards Heath 21
10 Brighton Phoenix 9
Ollie Beach notched up Chichester’s only A-string win in the match with a fine discus effort of nearly 30m. And with Dylan Giles finishing second in the B string, the event marked the club’s best total, 19 out of a maximum 20 points.
The shot putt was nearly as good with Giles and Vinnie Conte-Smith having second second places for 18 points while the pair were also on form in the hammer.
The javelin pairing of Sam Spiby and Zack Entiknapp both finished a close fourth to give a total of 68 points out of 80 for the four throwing events, the best of any club.
Gilbert Jones and Joe Broad were consistent in the high jump as were Broad and Alex Rivadossi in the long jump.
On the track Chichester knew they were in for a high standard when the solid pairing of Liam Dunne and Beach were edged into sixth and fifth respectively in the 300m despite oboth athletes running to form at just over 40 seconds.
The sprints were no less competitive with both Jacob Piper and Ollie Sanderson able to give a good account of themselves against some nationally-ranked opposition.
Sanderson formed a good pairing with Entiknapp in the hurdles while the regular 800m runner was joined by new member Niall Mears, who produced a fine run to finish within a couple of seconds of his club-mate and gain a well-deserved second place in the B string in his first race for the club.
The most closely-contested race in the boys’ match came in the 1,500m with a group of six still together on the last lap.
Liam Dunne made a break at the bell but was not quite able to pull clear of the field and was chased down in the final straight to finish third.
Dunne has the consolation of having broken the league record of club-mate Ben Collins with a stunning time of 4min 15sec set at Horsham in July.
This left the one event in which Chichester had not competed in in the previous matches, the pole vault. Both Zach Entiknapp and Archie Sadler had been introduced to the event at summer training thanks to coach and ex-decathlete Phil Kearney.
However a match environment is a different proposition and put the two Year 8 boys to the test. They did not disappoint with Sadler claiming third place in the B string while Entiknapp went on to clear a fine 2m and secure the points needed to give the team their second place.
As with the boys, good teamwork enabled Chichester to finish the match as high as they did – and again the throws provided the best haul of points.
Millie Grant was a fine third in the A string for the shot, which enabled Holly Trinder to win the B string, with both athletes over seven metres and gaining 18 points towards the club’s total.
Trinder was joined by Freya Chandler for a third and second in the discus while Chandler was a good third in the javelin with more than 25m, with jumper Emily Shippam lending fine support.
Grant added a third in the hammer while Shippam formed a new pairing to good effect with Elise Pullen in high jump and long jump.
On the track, the girls were faced with a similar daunting prospect as the boys with a number of nationally-ranked sprinters, hurdlers and middle-distance runners to face.
Chandler and Fleur Hollyer did especially well when confronted with Crawley’s two hurdlers, ranked number four and 14 in the UK.
Emily Russell led the A string for Chichester in both sprints with Hollyer in support in the 100m while Grant showed her versatility over 200m.
In the middle-distance races, the league record has been broken three times this season in the 800m while the 1,500m record has also fallen during the summer, so Chichester’s quartet stuck to their task.
Maggie King and Nicole Boltwood formed their usual pairing over 800m while Charlotte Bullard was joined by newcomer Megan Elkins in the 1,500m picking up a very useful 27 points to add to the efforts of the rest of the squad.
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