Knowing only an outright win in their final National League match of the season would be enough to give the Chichester’s under-13 and under-15 their second straight league title, virtually their strongest squad was in action at Woking.
It was the scene of their 2016 triumph but Winchester held top spot going into the final match. Second-placed Walton AC are also known for their strong squad.
A tight match was expected with the top four clubs separated by just a handful of points in previous match.
At the halfway stage Chichester and Walton were tied on 198 points with Winchester just 20 adrift and hosts Woking making a charge.
Chichester are usually stronger at the end of a match and so it proved on Saturday with every athlete performing to the best of their ability.
As the scoring team added up the totals, it looked as though Chichester had won the match – but they still needed a 30-point margin to be sure of lifting the league title.
In the end, Chichester had an unprecedented gap of 70 points over their nearest rivals Walton with Winchester having to settle for fourth place, third in the league.
To the delight of athletes, coaches, team managers and supporters alike, the league title was sewn up with more than 50 points to spare.
1 Chichester Runners & AC 540pts
2 Walton AC 470
3 Woking AC 460
4 Winchester & District 457
5 Bournemouth & New Forest 320
6 Havant AC 198
Final league table
1 Chichester Runners & AC 1901 match pts 18 lge pts
2 Walton AC 1835 18
3 Winchester & District 1855 17
4 Bournemouth & New Forest 1644 14
5 Woking AC 1775 13
6 Havant AC 764 4
Chichester under-15 boys were always going to play a major part and hurdles pair Ollie Sanderson and Dominic Barth started the match in fine style, with Jacob Piper and Ben Wadey joining the pair for the sprints and combining well in the sprint relay.
Liam Dunne teamed up with Ollie Beach for a formidable pairing in the 800m while Douglas Smith and Archie Sadler both recorded personal best over 1,500m.
Barth joined Joe Broad and Tom Hartley in the long jump and high jump while Beach, Dylan Giles and Vinnie Conte-Smith proved again a powerful combination in shot, discus and hammer. Zach Entiknapp and Johnny Simmons picked up useful points in the javelin.
The 4x300m quartet were in action with Dunne leading off followed by Broad and Entiknapp, leaving Beach to try to fight off the Walton English schools champion on the final leg.
With a 30m lead, Beach scorched down the back straight and kept his lead going into the final 100m. The roar of the crowd told him he was being closed down but the line came just in time giving Chichester the win by 10m at the line in the most exciting race of the day.
While individual A string wins were difficult to achieve in the under-15 girls’ age group, the dozen athletes ensured Chichester kept in touch.
Emily Russell, Fleur Hollyer and Jess Rayner battled hard in the sprints and teamed up well with Millie Grant in the sprint relay.
The usual middle-distance pairings were faced with good competition but 1,500m pairing Olivia Toms and Charlotte Bullard stuck to their task with Toms just edged out in a battle for first place.
Maggie King and Nicole Boltwood were supported in the 800m by non-scorers Nina Moranne and Hannah Carmichael to give the club good strength in depth.
In the field events Grant was joined by Alexia Everley in shot and hammer while Freya Chandler added strength in discus and javelin.
Chichester’s under-13s have been the improving part of the junior team, evident at Woking with several new faces adding strength.
It was one of the established team members who provided the most thrilling race of the day as new club 1,500m record holder Joe McLarnon battled down the home straight just edging out his Woking rival.
Charlie Pemberton ran well in the B string while 800m pair Ollie Fuller and Fionn O’Murchu were well supported by reserves Barney McLarnon and Josh Dunne.
New sprint pair Callum Hale and Nathan Ewins were right in contention in the 100m and Roman Watson and Sam Corbett also posted good times in the non-scoring reserve race.
Joe McLarnon and Oscar Rothwell had started the ball rolling with near-maximum points in the long jump with Tom Satterley in good support while Rothwell and Ewins formed a good partnership in the high jump.
Milo Nutt gained his first league win with a 27m javelin effort and made a good shot put pairing with O’Murchu.
Sophie Dudman and Phoebe Boardman were once again the dominant pair in the girls’ under-13 team with another double high jump win and near-maximum points in the hurdles. Dudman won the A string and Boardman was unlucky to stumble when leading the B string but recovered well to just finish a tenth of a second behind the winner.
Austeia Riaubiate made her first appearance of the season in the 100m with Boardman and in the long jump with Poppy Chandler, with the three teaming up with Dudman in the relay.
The middle-distance quartet of Cerys Dickinson, Eva Buckler, Isobel Buckler and Maddie Byers all stuck to their task well with their most impressive overall showing of the season.
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