Zablocki leads Chichester charge in Guildford match

Chi Runners at Guildford / Picture by Martin Bell
Chi Runners at Guildford / Picture by Martin Bell
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Chichester Runners and Ac members starred in the latest Southern Atletics League meeting.

Chi took a strong squad of 16 athletes to Guildford for the third match in this year’s series.

The talented American doctor, who is nearing the end of his his nine-month stint in England, became Chichester’s first-ever runner to post a time of under 15 minutes over 5,000m.

Despite some performances of individual brilliance from Chichester runners, that was not enough to see them secure best-team title on the day.

Chris Zablocki kicked things off for Chi with a club record 5,000m time.

The talented American doctor, who is nearing the end of his his nine-month stint in England, became Chichester’s first-ever runner to post a time of under 15 minutes over 5,000m.

Zablocki wasted no time and pulled away from the field straight away and never looked back before coming home in an impressive time of 14 mins 56 secs.

The American posted a succession of 70-second laps and managed to lap all of the field bar clubmate James Baker.

Baker, who was hampered by a slight achilles injury , still managed to claim the best B string time with 16 mins nine secs.

Another of Chi’s athletes to catch the eye was Ollie Smith with a fantastic performance in the 400m race.

Smith’s star showing saw him become South of England champion with his time of 48.3 seconds over his preferred distance.

Without any serious opposition, Smith’s time was far from his best but it was still enough to see him awarded man of the match.

Brandon Bell once again showed his versatility performing well in 100, 200 and 400m races, while there was a new pairing in the middle distance events with Will Boutwood and Charlie Benson making a good contribution to the team score.

Andy Hall and Phil Kearney were competitive in all four throwing events, with Hall’s 37.73 metre distance in the hammer enough to see him take top spot in the A string competition.

Chichester’s busiest athlete on the day was Aaron Hancock, his five events included 100 and 400 metre hurdles, while also competing in high, long and triple jump.

To cap a fine afternoon for the male team, Chi’s quartet of Bell, Boutwood, Hancock and Zablocki teamed for the 4x400 metre relay race.

With Bell the only specialist 400m racer taking part, the pieced together teamed could hold their heads high as they came home in second.

The six female members who were competing for Chichester at Guidlford also impressed.

Sophie Anne-Haigh ran a speedy 100m finishing in a time of 12.6 seconds, while Ella Wilcock supported well in the same race.

Alice Cox-Rushbridge and Izzy Bish once again showed their versatility taking part in high, long and triple jump, as well as shotputt and 100m hurdle events.

Leading the throws for Chichester’s female team in Guildford was Charlotte Stemp.

Alongside the shot and discus events Stemp was Chi’s sole representative in the javelin.

Karina Bennett has been in fine form of late and following her exploits in the Sussex cross-country competition and in national events, she returned to the track for Chichester.

Bennett, who was crowned Sussex cross-country champion in the winter, was back to make her mark for Chichester in both 800 and 3,000m races.

In the longer-distance race, Bennett managed to come home in second place with a magnificent run.

She completed the course in a time of 11 mins and seven secs but fell just short in her pursuit to be crowned Southern Athletics League winner in this particular competition.

But Bennett’s performance does cement her place in the top 100 across the country in her age group.

The next league meeting is Chichester’s home fixture which takes place at the Mountbatten Centre, Portsmouth on Saturday, July 9.

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