Chichester’s golden boys make it a day to remember at Lancing

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Chichester’s cross-country runners travelled to the hilly Lancing Manor course for the final fixture in the Sussex Cross Country League and emerged with two individual gold medals, two team golds and a host of top-three placings.

The individual golds came in the senior races with Jane Harrop and James Baker again dominant in their respective age groups.

While Baker was a comfortable winner of the senior men’s category with just four points from two firsts and a second from his scoring races, Harrop (left) went one better with a clean sweep in the over-45 women’s age group in her first season in the Sussex League, having previously concentrated her efforts in Hampshire races.

Behind Harrop’s third place on Saturday were Fay Cripps in eighth and Georgina Warner in tenth to give the club a record low total of 21 points and win the division-two championship in emphatic style, with a total of 160 points from the four fixtures - a massive 77 points in front of second place, which guarantees automatic promotion to division-one next season.

There was good back-up from Lucy Thraves in 28th, Alice Sowden, 61st in her first race for the club, and veteran Sue Baker in 65th. Warner was third individual on the day and 3rd overall for the season, pipping teammate Thraves for the bronze medal.

The senior men knew they had little chance of avoiding relegation to division two, lying well adrift of the top six before the final race.

Next home after Baker was Dave Dorning, who battled to 38th, fourth in his over-50 age group, while Tom Baylock in 58th just got the better of Andy Maynard in 61st. Martin Miller in 80th and Tony Cooley 83rd completed the scoring with reserves Nick Palmer 86th and John Betts 87th.

Chichester’s total of 322 points meant they finished in one of the two final places, but they got the better of Brighton Phoenix on the day.

Chichester’s juniors continued their fine season winning team medals in three of the four youngest age groups, a virtual repeat of the Sussex championship races in January.

The under-15 boys again led proceedings having their three scorers in the top 11 and extending their winning team margin to 56 points with just 64 from the fixtures at Goodwood, Plumpton, Bexhill and Lancing, a huge 56 in front of second-placed Brighton & Hove.

Harry Leleu was again fighting for the lead but could not quite hold on to county champion Billy White from Brighton Phoenix. However his second place ensured an individual silver and once again Josh James was next home in sixth, with Casey Keates just getting the battle for final scorer in 11th, one place and one second in front of team-mate Dan Eeles.

Keates and Eeles were able to claim team golds, having both been in the scoring team over the season.

There were good back-up runs from Ed Gerwat in 19th and Harry Pink 23rd to give the B team sixth place.

The under-13 boys knew team gold and silver were out of reach before Saturday’s fixture but knew a solid team performance would give them a chance of bronze.

With Josh Eeles forced to retire halfway through the race feeling unwell, it was left to Brodie Keates to lead the team home for the first time, followed by Sam Pink in 13th and Zac Hurst in 18th, with Adam Croad in 24th as reserve.

Their total of 41 points from their three scorers proved enough to win the bronze medals, which also went to Eeles, Ben Collins and Oliver Poole - all scorers during the season.

Matching the boys’ under-15 squad for strength in depth have been their female counterparts with the secret of their success close packing.

This was evident again with Rose Ellis in seventh closely followed by Emma Maynard in tenth and Nicola Mead 11th to give them 28 points - just enough of a low total to stay in front of improving Brighton & Hove for silver medals behind county champions Hastings.

For the B team Charlotte Reading in 13th just pipped Hannah Croad, 14th, with Lucy Ellis completing the scoring in 19th for 46 points.

Fifth place overall for the season was the highest of any B team in the whole league, just beating Chichester’s under-15 boys’ B team’s, who were sixth.

In the under 13 girls race there was a best-ever finish from Saskia Gardam in fourth with Maddie Smith 26th, while Greg Smith finished 17th in the under-17 men’s race.

PHIL BAKER