Chichester’s senior track and field team travelled to Swindon and found themselves up against league leaders Plymouth plus a strong Guildford squad and joint hosts Team Kennet.
Despite several notable performances and a large number of A-string event wins, they found themselves having to concede too many gaps in their squad to finish trailing by just over 30 points from the other three clubs and see their outside chance of finishing in the top four fade.
It was again the lack of enough women in their squad to compete in all 18 events which stood the team at a disadvantage. But those taking part more than held their own.
There was a double win in the 100m with Rachel Laurie and Rosie Compton too good for their rivals while Laurie made it a personal double later in the match with a convincing 200m effort.
Another athlete who had two A-string wins was Amy Brown in pole vault and triple jump. Lucie Munday was just pipped for first place in the discus but was rewarded with a personal best of 25.49m for her efforts.
Phoebe Pontet was unlucky to miss her stride when leading the 100m hurdles and was judged to have pushed a barrier but she had the consolation of lining up with Laurie, Compton and Brown for a clear 4x100m relay win in a season’s-best time of 53.7sec.
The sixth member of the women’s squad was veteran Nicky Stallard, who these days is more used to the more gentle pace of a parkrun but regularly competed for Southampton City AC more than 20 years ago as a 400m hurdler under the guidance of the late Mike Smith, illustrious couch of Kris Akabusi, Roger Black and other internationals.
Stallard was content to avoid hurdling after such a long absence from track competition and stick to 400, 800 and 1,500m, scoring valuable points.
With a well-balanced men’s squad of sprinters, middle-distance runners and field-event athletes, it was a Chichester pair of senior throwers who notched up the best points tally.
With the Plymouth A string near international standard, Phil Kearney battled well to finish runner-up in the shot with Andy Hall winning the B string. The positions were reversed in the hammer, again with the duo only dropping a single point between them.
Kearney was joined by junior Cellan Robinson in the javelin for another couple of second places while the Kearney and Hall combination showed their versatility with another near-maximum in the pole vault to cap a fine day.
On the track, Brandon Bell, Lewis Hall and Max Lambkin all battled well against quality opposition while Lambkin was near his best in the hurdles, joined for the first time by Alex Mani for a B string win in the longer 400m event.
Ben Collins and Leo Stallard joined forces in the 400 and 800m with Stallard completing three personal-best performances with a speedy 10.26.5 clocking, with Conrad Meagher close behind in the B race.
Meagher had almost finished level with James Baker in the 1,500m, this after Baker had been forced to settle for second place in the 3,000m after being outkicked on the final lap by a rival 20 years his junior.
Baker can be forgiven for not being able to add to his string of track victories having won the Steyning Roundhill Romp for the ninth time three days earlier and beating the rest of the field by over a minute.
Completing the team, Jack Dean scored well in the triple jump, this after lowering his own best in the 800m.
The final Southern League match of the season is on August 19 when the team travel to Portsmouth, where they will be trying to finish the season on a good note.
Four Chichester Runners & AC athletes represented Sussex schools at the English schools championships held in glorious weather in Birmingham.
Sophie-Anne Haigh (senior girls), competing in her final championships, displayed all her finest 200m sprinting techniques.
First out the blocks in her heat and with a superb example of bend running, she came into the straight just in the lead, finishing a tight third in 25.05sec, which was easily enough for her to qualify for the final as sixth overall fastest out of the three heats.
The final, though not so quick out the blocks, again saw her run a great bend with an equally good transition into the straight, and holding her form to finish a very close fifth in an electronic personal best time of 24.88sec – well under the national standard time.
Alyssa White (intermediate girls), despite having her training interrupted by an early-season injury, still managed a truly-valiant run in the 200m and record an excellent entry-standard time of 26.00sec.
In the distance events, Will Broom (intermediate boys) came 12th in the 3,000m in 8min 54.55sec – just outside his PB.
In the junior boys, Liam Dunne, running for Hampshire as a pupil of Bohunt School, ran a superb heat in the 800m, again setting a new personal best of 2.03.5.
He was agonisingly less than half a second outside the time needed to make the final, but finishing in the top ten in his first appearance at these championships will give him much confidence for the future.
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