Athletics final is a grand affair for Chichester youngsters

Ben Collins and Alyssa White at the Withdean / Picture by Catherine White
Ben Collins and Alyssa White at the Withdean / Picture by Catherine White

A superb all-round performance from a strong squad of 30 athletes gave Chichester a fantastic runners-up spot in the ten-club Sussex under-15 final at Withdean Stadium, Brighton.

Their overall result equal their best ever but Chichester’s boys inflicted a first-ever defeat on national Premier League club Crawley AC.

They ended top with 200 points, beating the likes of Crawley, Brighton and Worthing.

In addition, two league records went to Ben Collins, who improved his own 800m record to 2min 04.4sec while Alyssa White equalled the existing record in the girls’ 200m with a 23.3sec clocking.

Boys’ match

With virtually a full-strength squad, Chichester’s boys were hoping to repeat the success they enjoyed in National League competitions in the summer. They ended top with 200 points, beating the likes of Crawley, Brighton and Worthing.

In the hammer, James Gillett and Michael Ackerman were faced with a 50m thrower from Worthing and a Crawley athlete just below that mark. Undaunted, the Chichester pair stuck to their task with third place in the A string from Gillett and a B-string second from Ackerman to amass 17 points out of 20.

A bonus came from Ethan Brown, who gained third place in the pole vault in his first competition at the event and his eight points were to prove to be crucial.

On the track, Jack Dean and Will Broom set the ball rolling in a high-class 300m, where the top three in the A string all dipped below 40 seconds.

Lewis Hall and Cellan Robinson gave a good account of themselves in the 100m against tough competition, which they repeated in the 200m.

In the first middle-distance race, Collins covered the first lap of the 800m in a shade under 60 seconds,way clear of the rest of the field.

Collins slowed marginally on the second lap but still had enough to cross the line in 2.04.4, half a second inside his previous best and knocking almost a second off his own league record.

Harry Sage battled hard in the B race to finish just outside 2.30 and was well-supported by non-scorers Ned Potter and Jack Harrington.

There was much more of a tactical battle in the 1,500m where virtually the whole field was together at the end of the first lap. Only at halfway did Will Broom and his Lewes rival pull clear.

With almost-identical best times for the season, the pair raced neck and neck down the back straight for the final time and it was only in the home straight than the Lewes athlete pulled clear. Broom’s second place was almost matched by a good third by Leo Stallard in the B race for another good points tally.

In the jumps, Collins was over five metres for the first time while Harry Carter cleared 1.50 in the high jump, with Sam Price a capable B string on each occasion.

Price was joined by Brown in the hurdles and Brown and Broom formed a solid combination in the javelin. Gillett and Ackerman were busy in the shot and discus to complete the best all-round showing by the under-15 boys in the club’s history.

Girls’ match

The Chichester girls shone too – finishing third with 188 points.

They were set on their way in the hammer with Alice Walford and Eleanor Lowes competing well against 30m throwers from Brighton and Crawley.

Florence Smith was scoring the club’s first points in the girls’ pole vault and Rachel Laurie started things off on the track with a good second place in the 300m. An aggravated ankle injury kept her off her best in the 200m later on and forced out of the relays.

With Alice Cox-Rusbridge gaining third in the B string, 17 points total out of 20 matched the early boys’ efforts and took Chichester into a narrow second place in the team competition.

Girls’ team captain Alyssa White was at the end of a long season, having taken part in the club’s league fixtures and inter-county competitions culminating in the English schools championships earlier in the summer.

White summoned all her strength to win a close 100m with a quality field behind her, with the top six athletes at 13.6sec or faster.

She had more of a winning margin with a record-equalling win in the 200m in 26.3 before storming home on the anchor legs of the 4x100m relay and the 4x300m relay, in which Chichester eclipsed all but the Crawley quartet.

Amber Dodd and Caitlin Brown were in action in two tight-packed 800m races while Smith and Emily Guiry ran virtually stride for stride in an equally-tough 1,500m.

All-rounder Rosie Compton partnered White in the 100m than teamed up with Amelia Freeman in the hurdles and high jump. Freeman had Izzy Bish for company in the long jump while Roberta Collyer completed the teamsheet by joining Walford in the javelin.

Eloise Lane joined White, Cox-Rusbridge and Dodd for the final relay to leave Chichester ending on a high and cementing their place at the second-ranked Sussex club in the under-15 age group after Crawley.

Overall match result

1 Crawley 406pts

2 Chichester 388

3 Brighton & Hove 342

4 Worthing & District 324

5 Lewes 227

6 Horsham 211

7 Eastbourne Rovers 180

8 East Grinstead 163

9 Brighton Phoenix 161

10 Haywards Heath 143

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