Chichester’s new crop of under-13 athletes finished their season in fine style with a fine joint third place with Horsham – beaten only by two of the top squads in the south this season, Crawley and Brighton & Hove.
It means Chichester have kept their record of always having finished in the top half of the 11-club final throughout its 17 years and maintained the club’s place at the top of the under-13 final rankings from 2000 to 2016.
The standard of competition at this year’s final could not have been higher with a host of athletes ranked in the top ten in the UK for their event.
Despite the competition they faced from the other ten clubs, the Chichester squad of 30 athletes stuck to their task and were rewarded with a finishing position beyond their expectations.
Such was the strength of Chichester’s boys’ squad this year, they matched the overall winners Crawley event for event and finished equal on points at the top of the standings.
Very much a team effort, their success was down to a combination of talented A-string competitors superbly backed up by the B strings, who notched up nine top-three placings out of the 11 events.
Two of the team’s stalwarts this season picked up maximum points from their allocation of two events. DJ Barth flew over the 75ms hurdles and followed it with a B string win in the long jump.
Also having double success was Oliver Beach, who played a waiting game on the first lap in the 600m before making his move with 300m to go to forge clear of the rest of the field and win by over a second in 1min 44sec, one of the fastest times ever by a Chichester athlete.
He followed this with a win in the B string shot, with team-mate Vinnie Conte-Smith throwing a new personal best of over 9m to be a close runner-up in the A string.
The boys’ throws were a profitable part of the match for Chichester with San Spiby and Zach Entiknapp runners-up in the javelin with Spiby just short of 30m while Conte-Smith and Spiby picked up useful points in the discus.
The jumps kept up the momentum with Ollie Hill and Entiknapp getting another pair of second places in the high jump and Johnny Lye well over 4m in a very competitive long jump – the winner jumping over 5m and just a single centimetre short of the league record.
On the track Oliver Goldsmith and Ben Wadey formed an effective new partnership in the 75m with Hill and Lyne also showing a good burst of speed over 15m.
Douglas Smith and Archie Sadler were on equally good form in a very fast 1000m with Joe McLarnon backing up with a second place in the 600m.
A good sign for the club’s future was shown with the reserves in action all performing with credit over 75m and 600m. Fionn O’Murchu and Noah Campbell showed the best speed with Barney McLarnon, Eden Murphy and Jude Spratt not far behind.
Chichester’s girls’ squad was one of the least experienced of recent years with just three of the 13 athletes having previous experience of the final and many having their first taste of this standard of competition.
Two of the UK’s top ten in high jump, long jump and hurdles made standards very high.
The middle-distance races on the track brought the club’s best points score with Nicole Boltwood and Poppy Chandler amassing the 18 in the 600m.
Nina Moranne was supported by late replacement Rose Potter for two good runs in the 1500m. In the sprints Ailsa Hamilton and Aimee Hayles made a new combination in the 75m with both girls running well in their first competition in club athletics.
In the 150m Millie Grant, partnered by Chandler, kept the points total moving while Fleur Hollyer and Sophie Dudman both performed with credit in the 70m hurdles.
The pair teamed up again to good effect in the high jump despite having to run from the end of their hurdles to make sure of recording a safe opening jump.
Showing great versatility, members of the squad ensured the field events were well covered with Grant and Potter in the shot and Thea Agostinelli in both discus and javelin well supported by Boltwood and Hamilton.
Lucy Hollyer and Clara Prince were in action in the long jump with Hayles a reserve completing what was a fine overall team effort for this Chichester squad.
1 Crawley 401pts
2 Brighton & Hove 395
3 Chichester 344
3 Horsham 344
5 Worthing 258
6 Lewes 248
7 Haywards Heath 191
8 Brighton Phoenix 153
9 East Grinstead 120
10 Eastbourne 58
11 Hastings 55
Overall aggregate match points score years 2000 – 2016
Chichester 149 league pts
Brighton & Hove 135
East Grinstead 57
Brighton Phoenix 51
Haywards Heath 47
- PHIL BAKER
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