Thanks to an impressive all-round team display from a squad of 24, Chichester’s under-13 athletes finished in a fine third place at the Sussex grand final at Crawley.
With the top ten Sussex clubs in action, competition was always going to be of the highest quality. And the whole Chichester team stepped up to the mark, notching a host of personal bests.
The result keeps Chichester at the top of the all-time team standings over the 14 years the final has been held with all teams competing in its present format.
Winning the inaugural competition in 2000 was unexpected for a very inexperienced group of athletes but in the subsequent years, Chichester have won the competition a further three times and have never finished lower than fifth.
This year’s top-three finish was a team effort but it was the girls who had most success.
Midhurst Rother trio Kerrie Pafford, Abbie de Villiers and Nathalie Czik were joined by Alice Walford from Bourne Community College and came away with a virtual clean sweep in the throws.
Pafford and de Villiers achieved the club’s only double first of the day in the shot with Pafford winning the A string with 7.46m and de Villiers just 1cm behind to win the B string.
Pafford combined with Czik for two second places in the discus while Walford and de Villiers achieved the same result in the javelin to bring a combined 56 points out of 60 from the three events.
This standard was kept up on the track with Alyssa White smashing her personal best for two second places in the 75m and 150m with times of 10.5 and 20.4secs. In the same events, Roberta Collyer ran her fastest of the season for third place in the B string.
Another athlete who made a breakthrough was Eloise Lane in the 600m - she was beaten only by the Sussex champion in a time of 1.51.5, with Caitlin Brown a good B string and Charlotte Bullard winning the non-scoring event.
Xenia Truman and Florence Smith ran their best in the 1,000m while the scoring squad was completed by Amelia Freeman in the hurdles and long jump where she was joined by Lane and Emergen Spreckley.
Looking to next year, five athletes competed in the non-scoring sprints with Maya Shankar and Maria Austin joining the A and B relay teams at the end of the match as a result of their fine sprinting - with Rosie Compton, Mathilda Perry and Tahlia Juggins also showing promise.
While no individual A string winners, the boys’ section still did well in keeping the points total moving.
Throwing pair James Gillett and Michael Ackerman achieved the best result in the shot putt with Gillett throwing a PB of 8.93m for third in the A string while Ackerman won the B string with 7.43.
New member Henry Condron, making his first appearance for the club, teamed up well with Gillett in the discus, then scored valuable points with Ackerman in the javelin.
Another fine personal best performance came in the high jump with Oliver Pulleyblank clearing 1.48m for second place with Harry Carter equalling the best B string height of 1.30 but just losing out on countback.
In the sprints, Alex Austin gave a battling display against some of the best athletes the final has ever produced, including Horsham’s new Sussex record holder, with Jack Dean an able B string in the 75m.
In the middle-distance races, Ben Collins was in a three-way battle for top spot in the 1,000m but had to settle for a good third place, with Ned Potter scoring well in the B string.
As with Potter and Dean, both Chichester’s competitors in the 600m have another year in the age group and will form the backbone of next season’s team. Jeremy Sharp and Harry Sage did well to finish just outside two minutes, well in touch with the leading pack, and helped ensure Chichester’s third spot.
Match result: 1. Brighton & Hove 374; 2. Crawley 365; 3. Chichester 303; 4. Horsham 277; 5. Lewes 197; 6. Haywards Heath 171; 7. Worthing 169; 8. Brighton Phoenix 125; 9. East Grinstead 96; 10. Eastbourne 33
Overall team standings 2000 – 2013
1 Chichester 127½ match pts
2 Horsham 126
3 Crawley 121
4 Brighton & Hove 110
5 Lewes 90
6 Eastbourne Rovers 74½
7 Worthing & District 70
8 Hastings 54
9 East Grinstead 51
10 Brighton Phoenix 43
11 Haywards Heath 36
by PHIL BAKER