Honours shared around at schools’ cross-country championships

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There was a first chance for cross-country runners to show their early-season form in the West Sussex West championships at Bishop Luffa School.

Not only were team and individual places at stake but an opportunity to impress before the main Sussex Schools event to be held at Bexhill in January.

An invitation Year 7 race resulted in a double individual win for The Academy, Selsey. In the boys’ event Ben Collins was first across the line followed by Bishop Luffa pairing Will Broom and Leo Stallard.

Chloe Croad was too good for the rest of the girls, again with a Bishop Luffa pairing in the next two places as Scarlett White got the better of Lucy Gerwat.

In the Year 8 and 9 races, there was a clean sweep of individual and team titles for Bishop Luffa.

Saskia Gardam led home Annabelle Phillips from Chichester High School and Luffa’s Grace Wills, who, with Molly Whatmore in fifth, ensured the team title went to Luffa.

The boys’ individual places were occupied by runners from three schools with Zac Hurst from Bishop Luffa scoring a convincing 40-second victory from Adam Croad of The Academy and Felpham’s Brodie Keates.

With Alex Smith seventh and Tom Ellis eighth, Bishop Luffa’s 16 points was good enough to see off Chichester High School with 20 and Felpham on 24 points.

The combined intermediate and senior races provided the most competitive racing of the day with individual and team wins for Chichester Girls High School and Seaford College.

Rose Ellis repeated her recent club form by taking the girls’ race from the front and keeping a steady lead throughout the race to win by 13 seconds from a battling Tara Bage from Seaford College in second and team-mate Charlotte Reading in third.

With the third High School scorer Nicola Mead close behind in fifth, the total of nine points was too good for Bishop Luffa with 24 in second place.

There was a fine battle at the front of the boys’ race with Harry Leleu from Seaford College quickly at the front, with Felpham’s Casey Keates leading the rest of the field.

With the top two maintaining their positions until the end, Seaford pairing Toby Hindmarsh and Christian Disley-May worked their way through the field to finish third and fourth with just 15 seconds separating the top four at the end.

This enabled Seaford to notch their first team win of the day with the lowest total in any race of just eight points.

There was a fine scrap for the minor placings with runner-up Keates supported well by Will Mapley in seventh and Harry Lyne tenth for a Felpham total of 19 points, holding off Bishop Luffa’s George Dempster (fifth), Ed Gerwat (sixth) and Ashley Thompson (11th) for 22 points.

Meanwhile, Chichester kicked off their Indoor Sportshall season in subdued fashion by fielding a depleted team in the first Sussex League match at Tanbridge House School, Horsham.

With the other Sussex teams having become much stronger in recent years, Chichester will need to be a full strength in their next match on December 8 to challenge for a title they last won in 2008.

There were many encouraging performances that showed promise for the rest of the season.

Top throwers Peter Thomas and Jay Lake made their mark in the under-15 age group. Thomas, with nearly 12m, a new personal best, was beaten only by his main rival from the summer, top UK hammer thrower Monroe Ritchie from Crawley.

With Lake too good for the B string competitors, their tally of 16 points was Chichester’s best of the day.

Ewan Willis improved his best with a first sub 22-second clocking in the two-lap sprint. For the under 13s Alex Austin caught the eye in the two-lap with Lewis Hall in good support while Leo Stallard and Oliver Shergold did well in the four and six-lap races respectively. Jack Dean, Harry Sage and Jeremy Sharp sprinted and jumped well for the under-11s.

For the girls Alyssa White impressed with a 23.5 clocking for the two-lap sprint, a new PB, as well as a standing long jump of 2.10.

Amelis Freeman and Emily Guiry showed good speed for the under-13s while Caitlin Moore, Zoe Nunn, Beth Rogers and Sophie Shergold proved a versatile squad on track and field for the under-15s.

Caitlin Brown and Alexandra Shergold did well for the team in their first ever Sportshall match.