With their best all-round performance of the season, Chichester’s under-15s kept up their fine tradition with another top-three placing in the Sussex Grand Final at the Withdean Stadium, Brighton.
Having been hampered by the unavailability of a few key athletes in league matches over the summer, Chichester were able to call on nearly a full-strength squad for the final and those called up as replacements raised their game to do the club justice.
Having finished runners-up to a dominant Crawley squad for the past three years, Chichester knew they’d have to be at their best to maintain their record of never having finished outside the top four out of the best ten teams in Sussex.
With the pole vaulters and hammer throwers getting the club off to a flying start in the opening two events, Chichester produced a series of above-par performances to keep neck and neck with a Brighton squad reckoned to be their best ever in this competition.
With only Crawley clawing their way ahead, the other seven clubs were left standing with a massive 100 points separating the top trio from the rest.
After three hours of intense competition and with only the four relays to come, Crawley were assured of victory, with just six points separating Brighton in second and Chichester in third.
Storming runs from the boys and girl’s squad in both the 4x100m relay and the equally exciting 4x300m relay saw Chichester just have the edge but Brighton secured runners-up spot by just four points out of 400-plus scored for each club.
Closest rivals Horsham, East Grinstead and Worthing were left trailing to scrap for fourth, fifth and sixth. Lewes got the better of Eastbourne, Haywards Heath and Brighton Phoenix.
Chichester and Brighton are tied for second place in records going back to when the league began in 2010.
Match result for 2018
1 Crawley AC 486 match pts
2 Brighton & Hove 406
3 Chichester 402
4 Horsham Blue Star 298
5 East Grinstead 258
6 Worthing & District 208
7 Lewes AC 135
8 Eastbourne Rovers 88
9 Haywards Heath 85
10 Brighton Phoenix 79
Overall League table 2010-2018
1 Crawley AC 90 league pts
Jt 2 Chichester 74
Jt 2 Brighton & Hove 74
4. Horsham Blue Star 53
5. Lewes AC 45
6. Eastbourne Rovers 41
7. Worthing & District 35
8. East Grinstead 32
9. Haywards Heath 23
10. Brighton Phoenix 10
A well-balanced squad of a dozen scored excellent points across the board with the pairing of Millie Grant and Brooklyn Santer-Smith, the latter in her first league appearance for the club, the most prolific in the throws.
After a solid hammer, battling against two athletes over 40m, the duo scored near-maximum points in the shot, with just two Crawley athletes ahead, before going one better in the discus with only one Worthing thrower in front.
A tally of 54 points out of 60 between them set a new Chichester record for a pair in any three events.
There was a surprise win for Elise Pullen in the high jump, winning on countback with a height of 1.50m with Cerys Dickinson supporting well with a new personal best for third place in the B string.
Skye and Maisie Sadler were close to two metres in the pole vault with both clear at 1.90, good enough for a third A string and second B string for a very useful 17 points to add to the club score.
Fleur Hollyer and Sophie Dudman proved very effective over sprints and hurdles. Hollyer has made great strides this season, setting personal bests by some margin in the sprints and did not disappoint with a battling 13.4sec 100m for third A string, equalling her personal best and a 27.8sec 200ms for second place.
Dudman notched a couple of third places in the B string and in the hurdles, the placings were reversed with both athletes setting new best times, Dudman 12.5sec for runners-up spot on the A string and Hollyer’s 14 seconds good enough for third in the B race.
Maria Austin and Emily Weymouth made a solid pairing in the 300m as did Dickinson and Nicole Boltwood over 800m.
Twins Isobel and Eva Buckler were separated by a fifth of a second after a hard-fought 1500m and took a pair of runners-up spots behind Brighton’s two county representatives.
Chichester’s boys were indebted to the throwers for the largest haul of points. Multi-eventer Oliver Beach opted to stick to field events for this fixture and started with a runners-up spot in the hammer, with team-mate Sam Spiby comfortably winning the B string.
The pair went one better in the discus with a double first before Jack Wadman joined Beach for another maximum in the shot, both Chichester athletes over 10m. An amazing 59 points out of 60 was the reward for the efforts of the Chi trio.
Spiby was close to 35m in his number-one event, the discus, supported well by Seamus McCormack with 25m in the B string resulting in a couple of third places.
In the jumps, Ollie Sanderson’s 5m-plus long jump earned third place while Archie Sadler cleared 2.10m for fifth place in the pole vault in a high-class competition.
On the track Sanderson caught the eye in both the 100m and 200m. In recording Chichester’s best times of the year, his 12.7 and 25.6 were rewarded by a couple of third places.
Wadman and Ben Wadey offered good support ,with Wadey less than a second behind his team-mate for second place in the B string 200m.
Newcomers Jacob Andrews and George Goldsmith added strength to the track squad from 300m upward and there were two new pairings in the middle-distance events.
Sadler teamed up with McCormack in the 800m while Sam Corbett and Goldsmith picked up useful points in the 1500m, the two Chichester runners separated by just over a second at the finish.
Two stirring relays ended the programme with Chichester beating Brighton on each occasion but with not quite enough daylight between the teams to pull the club ahead in the match.
Chichester’s whole squad can be congratulated on putting up such a fine showing to finish off the season.