Chichester’s under-17s and under-20s opened their Youth Development League campaign at Guildford’s Spectrum Centre and were delighted to take advantage of warmer conditions at last.
It was a first experience for most of the team in the upper age group of the league, with 11 of the 14 athletes on show having moved up from last year’s under-15 squad.
With a well-balanced group of under-17 men, the seven Chichester athletes secured a fine second place in their age group behind host club and overall winners Guildford & Godalming.
Leading from the front were three members of the all-conquering cross-country squad who took their winter success on to the track.
Ben Collins and Leo Stallard led from the front in the 1,500m to secure a double first, with Collins near his personal best and Stallard knocking more than 20 seconds from his own mark after an injury-hit summer in 2015.
The pair then ran near their best in a very competitive 800m while picking up useful points for the team in long jump and triple jump.
Will Broom, the third member of the cross-country squad, opted to run the longer 3,000m and smashed his best with a time of 9.45.3.
An 800m later in the day and a triple jump and a leg of the 4x400m made for a good test of early-season fitness.
In the sprints Lewis Hall set new personal-best marks of 12.0sec and 24.7sec in the 100m and 200m respectively while Brandon Bell lowered his 200m best to 24.4 and equalled his 400m mark at 55.5.
New team member Dominic Easton proved an excellent all-rounder with good points in high jump, 400m and discus. Chichester’s final under-17 James Gillett proved to be the top points scorer of the day by setting new personal bests with the heavier implements in his new age group.
A 30m-plus winning hammer throw was supported by two runners-up spots in shot and discus for a personal total of 26 points from the three events, accounting for a tenth of Chichester’s overall total.
To complete the men’s squad, under-20s Sam Reading and Callum Easton ran well over 400 and 1500 metres.
Having competed in the senior match at Salisbury, Alyssa White and Rachel Laurie were keen to set early-season markers in better conditions for sprinting than on a windy and cold day two weeks previously.
White was up against a very strong Guildford athlete in the 100m and 200m and was just pipped in both races but was delighted to gain English Schools qualifying marks with times of 12.6sec and 26.0sec respectively.
She followed this with a long jump of just over five metres for another runners-up spot on a very successful afternoon.
Laurie opted for the slightly longer combination of 200m and 300m and strode home unchallenged in the 200m B string, and followed this up with a good second place in the A-string 300m with a time of 44.1sec.
The three remaining Chichester athletes were all making their first appearances of the season.
Emily Guiry showed great determination in the 800m as well as running a fast leg in the relay and gaining unexpected points as runner-up in the javelin.
Annabelle Cooper and Ella Wilcock were both making their first appearances for Chichester and showed promise over 100m.
The West Sussex West schools championships take place at the Mountbatten Centre, Portsmouth, tomorrow.
This will be a chance for the top schools athletes to show their form to the selectors ahead of the Sussex schools championships in June and the chance to represent Sussex at national level.
The following weekend the clubs’ Sussex championships take place at the K2 in Crawley.
Chichester are back in action when the under-13s and under-15s travel to Bournemouth on Saturday, May 21, aiming to repeat their fine second place from their opening fixture.
On Sunday 22, the club’s seniors are in action at Broadbridge Heath, where they will be facing home club Horsham Blue Star, Team Dorset and newcomers to the league Windsor and Eton, who may well field several of their National League competitors.
Chichester should have a stronger team than in the first fixture.
Chichester’s James Baker was second in a field of 8,000 in the Milton Keynes Marathon.
He finished in 2hr 36min 48sec – five minutes and 37 seconds behind Ben Fish. Both men’s times beat the old course record.
Baker said: “I was a bit unlucky to break the course record (2.37.30) and not win. It was a twisty, toughh course on which only one person had ever broken 2.40 in the four years the event has been going.”
Fish led from the start and Baker broke away from Paul Adams – who went on to finish third – 16 miles in before hitting second spot himself a mile later.
Meanwhile, Chichester’s Chris Zablocki came fourth in the Belfast marathon in 2.26.59 behind a trio of Kenyans.
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