Chichester’s under-20 team gave a good account of themselves in the first National Junior League match of the season to finish in a close third place in a hard-fought match.
Lying second behind eventual winners Brighton & Hove for most of the match, it was only in the final event, the men’s steeplechase, that Southampton managed to overturn a nine-point deficit to snatch the runners-up spot by a mere six points after four hours of competition and 38 events.
All teams deserved credit for their performances in some of the worst conditions ever seen at Portsmouth with sprinters battling into a strong headwind and jumpers and throwers having to adjust their approaches in the gale-force wind and rain.
It was essential for all teams to get off to a good start and the eight Chichester athletes first in action on track and field didn’t disappoint.
Lucy Ellis and Beth Garland showed good speed in the women’s 400m hurdles as did George Grainger and Jake Hurst in the men’s race.
Craig Rivard and Callum Adams were up against good competition in the hammer, followed by Nicola Partridge and Abi Humphrey for the women. A total of 63 points from these four events set Chichester on their way.
Hurst provided good support for George Humphrey in the 100m while Alex Fryday showed good form with second place for the women with Abi Humphrey in support in the B string.
Chichester’s middle-distance strength was evident, especially in the women’s events where county cross-country champions Beth Garland, Georgina Warner and Lucy Thraves were joined by Emma Maynard and Ellis in their first match in the under-17 age group.
The highlight was a double win in the 3,000m from Thraves and Maynard with Thraves also battling to third in the 1,500m steeplechase, a new event in the league programme, with Ellis a fine winner in the B string.
In the men’s events James McKenzie, Callum Adams and Lewis Garland were joined by new under-17s Harry Leleu and Dan Eeles with Leleu’s personal best of 9.38.08 good enough for second in the A string.
McKenzie and Leleu provided a solid pairing in the 1,500ms as did Eeles and Garland in the 800.
Unluckiest athlete of the group was Adams who clattered into one of the steeplechase barriers at the end of the match and was unable to finish.
Despite the conditions it was in the jumps where Chichester scored three of their four individual A string wins.
Jamie Moore proved his worth as a decathlete in 2011 and started where he left off with a new personal best of 5.95m to win the long jump followed by a more modest 1.65m in the high jump for another victory. He was unlucky to fail in the pole vault in such difficult conditions that the bar had to be held on by the officials.
Izzie Brown made it a long-jump double for Chichester with a new best of 5.20m, then teamed up with Partridge, Katie Hall and Humphrey to gain good points across shot, discus and javelin.
To score well over 400 points represented Chichester’s best start to a season in this league.