Chichester produced their best all-round performance of the season at Woking and the squad of 50 athletes gained a hard-fought victory against some quality opposition to emerge as Youth Development League champions.
Trailing Horsham by half a point going into the final match, Chichester knew that they would face a fierce challenge from Horsham and the home club Woking and couldn’t discount a combined Bournemouth and New Forest team.
With just over half the day’s programme completed, the match and league placings could hardly have been tighter with Chichester leading Horsham by just three points at 316 to 313 with Woking producing some excellent results after a slow start.
Chichester’s field event competitors over the last few events performed way above expectations and the relay squads ensured overall victory.
1 Chichester 536
2 Woking 514
3 Horsham Blue Star 485
4 Bournemouth / New Forest 365
5 Reigate Priory 215
6 Havant 159
Final league positions
1 Chichester 2036pts
2. Horsham Blue Star 1984
3 Woking 1909
4 Bournemouth / New Forest 1751
5 Reigate Priory 836
6 Havant 833
Chichester’s under-15 boys have been the strongest of the age groups all season and for the final match they were even more impressive than usual with three useful additions to the team.
Judging by results from other matches in the league, this group would be a match for virtually any club in the south of England.
Cellan Robinson led the way in the sprints with a couple of close second places with Jacob Piper supporting well in the B string.
Finn Buckingham-Rhyder and Jack Dean provided a useful combination over 300m and played a major part in the club’s 4x300m relay win.
Liam Dunne and Alex Mani gained near maximum points in the 800m with Dunne setting a new personal best of 2.13.5. Ned Potter and JJ Staples battled well in the 1,500m while Ethan Brown and Sam Price completed the track programme with one of the most convincing displays, two seconds ahead of the opposition.
In the field events there was a new pairing in the high jump with both athletes jumping higher than ever before. In a high quality competition, six of eight competitors were still in at 1.50m including the two Chichester athletes.
Price cleared 1.55m to win the B string, leaving Alfie Agostinelli in his first match for the club to soar over 1.60 and win.
There was further success in the jumps with Brown winning the pole vault while Price and Robinson picked up good points in the long jump.
It was also in the throws where the club produced its best result of the season. Caelan Stanton finished with the best combined result of the day including a win in the shot putt with a distance of 12.36m, inflicting the first defeat of the season on the top Horsham thrower.
This was followed by a javelin throw of just under 35m, this after Stanton had gained second pace in the hammer with a throw of over 30m in his first attempt at the event.
Jack Purvis joined Stanton for a good B string win in the shot and teamed up with Buckingham-Rhyder for useful points in the discus.
Five non-scorers also showed their mettle with good sprinting from Tom Cohen, Archie Lyne and Will Crane over 100m while Owen Thomas ran well in 800m and hurdles with Crane showing promise in the high jump.
The club’s under-15 girls were missing six regular team members. The nine on duty did well to keep the club in touch with the leaders and their points proved vital to the result.
Emily Russell stepped up to the plate to join with Rosie Compton in the 100m and Jess Werfalli in the 200 and 300m.
Coco Smythe and Emma Farquhar had only the Woking pair in front of them in the 800m while Caitlin Brown had to tackle the 1500m in the hottest part of the day.
Brown was also on hand to supplement the throws where Alexia Everley, Holly Trinder and Annabel Eden picked up good points, with Compton, Smythe and Trinder moving the scoreboard along in high jump and triple jump.
The squad battled hard in the two relays, especially the 4x300m quartet who finished second to the home club.
The transformation of the under 13 boys this since the opening fixture in April has been one of the highlights of the season for Chichester and the ten-athlete squad certainly did not disappoint on Saturday.
Once again they were given a boost in the first track race of the day when DJ Barth left his rivals trailing in the 75m hurdles with the bonus of Zach Entiknapp winning the B string on a dip finish for maximum points for the club.
These two plus Oliver Sanderson made a strong combination in the sprints, setting new best marks for the club in both 100 and 200m.
The club’s middle-distance quartet showed fine form with Oliver Beach just missing out on an A string win by a fifth of a second while Joe McLarnon strode away from his rivals to win the B string by ten seconds.
Archie Sadler and Fionn O’Murchu produced a similarly-good result over 1,500m. In the jumps, Sanderson and Entiknapp both cleared a new best height of 1.30m for a couple of second places while Barth and Entiknapp again combined well, this time in the long jump.
In the two throws Chichester virtually swept the floor, winning 30 points out of a possible 32. Vinnie Conte-Smith relegated team-mate Beach to the B string with both athletes over eight metres for a double first while Entiknapp and Conte-Smith almost repeated the performance in the javelin.
Chichester had good back-up with non-scorers with Tom Hartley winning the 800m while Charlie Sharpe and Archie Farquhar set good times over both 100 and 800m.
The club’s under-13 girls also produced their best all-round performance of the season.
They were set on their way when Fleur Hollyer and Sophie Dudman produced two second places in the 70m hurdles, losing out only to Horsham’s pair of county champions.
Hollyer, Millie Grant and Lara Cooke battled well in the sprints.
In the middle distances, Nicole Boltwood was just edged out into second place in the 800m A string while Hannah Carmichael achieved the same result in the B string.
Nina Moranne and Cerys Dickinson again proved to be a reliable pairing in the 1,200m while another set of runners-up spots came from Grant and Thea Agostinelli in the shot putt.
The nine-athlete squad showed the same commitment as the rest of the Chichester team to enable the club to finish top.
* Athletics action in next week’s Observer will include a report and pictures from the Lavant-based Midsummer 5 road race, which saw a record field and success for Chichester in the men’s and women’s races.
- PHIL BAKER
Don’t miss out on all the latest breaking sports news where you live.
Here are four ways you can be sure you’ll be among the first to know what’s going on.
1 Make this website your homepage
2 Like our Facebook page at facebook.com/pages/Sport-Sussex
3 Follow us on Twitter @SportSussex
4 Register with us by clicking on ‘sign in’ (top right corner). You can then receive our daily newsletter AND add your point of view to stories that you read here.
Share with your family and friends - so they don’t miss out!