Chichester’s new crop of under-13 athletes did themselves proud in their Sussex athletics grand final at Crawley.
Fielding their least experienced squad for many seasons, the 20-strong line-up were fourth out of ten clubs and scooped the shield for the most improved team of the season for the second year in a row.
And by losing out to Horsham by only one place, Chichester kept top spot in the all-time league rankings stretching back over the 12 seasons since the Sussex final was first held in its present format.
As with the under-15s, who’d gained second place in their age group, an all-round team performance was key to the success.
With each club fielding A and B string competitors in each event and both scoring a maximum ten points for a win, well-matched line-ups were vital.
Nowhere was this more evident than in the boys’ throws, where newcomer Jay Lake made his mark in his first competition for the club with a fine shot putt of 9.55m for a close third in the A string, while Tom Dawtrey was second in the B. The same pair tackled the discus: Dawtrey threw farther but Lake filled the runners-up spot in the B string.
In the sprints, Joe Taylor and James Austin notched fourth places in the A and second places in the B while in the middle-distance races Josh Eeles and Zac Hurst formed an impressive partnership in the 1,000m, while Brodie Keates and Ben Collins lined up for the 600m.
As Eeles, Keates and Collins are all eligible for the same age group next season, prospects for 2012 look good.
Another newcomer was equally as impressive, Tom Tangen throwing more than 30m in the javelin for third place, then scoring an unexpected B string hurdles win, teaming up with Joel Applebee on each occasion. Younger athlete Daniel Jonco-Ritchie teamed up with Collins in the long jump.
For the girls, Chichester had their best points haul in the jumps.
Abby Moss and Mia Selman gave the club a great start to the whole competition with two second places in the long jump, scoring 18 points out of the maximum 20, and Moss was unlucky to lose the A string by a centimetre with a 4.08m effort.
Moss teamed up with Alex Jarrold in the high jump to gain first B with Jarrold third A after Jarrold had impressed in the shot.
Mia Faulkner and Alyssa White battled well against some very fast sprinting while the middle-distance trio of Caitlin Paul, Saskia Gardham and Molly Whatmore were among the front group on each occasion.
The same three showed great spirit by supporting Jarrold in the throws and with specialist hurdler Selman just outside the top three, Chichester knew they had produced their best all-round performance of the season when it mattered.
Match Result: 1 Crawley 410; 2 Brighton 386; 3 Horsham 341; 4 Chichester 300; 5 Hastings 262; 6 East Grinstead 216; 7 Lewes 187; 8 Haywards Heath 186; 9 Eastbourne 149; 10 Phoenix 74.
In the final fixture of a long outdoor athletics season, three of Chichester’s talented multi-event athletes will be in action at Exeter this weekend in the English schools’ finals. Izzie Brown and Nathalie Godden compete in the heptathlon as part of the Sussex team, while Jamie Moore goes in the decathlon.