Chichester show bigger clubs the way with Young Athletes League success

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Chichester returned to winning ways in their final National Young Athletes League match at Watford with a resounding winning margin of more than 300 points ahead of their nearest challengers.

In what looked their easiest fixture of the season it was important to field a strong squad to maintain second place in the league.

This they did in style with 645 points – the highest score from any match on the day – meaning Chichester finished runners-up to Winchester but comfortably ahead of rivals Aldershot & Farnham, Guildford & Godalming, Bournemouth and Portsmouth.

Added to the team’s performance last year, this result ranks the club in the top 25 junior athletics teams in the south of England over an area stretching from East Anglia to Cornwall, including the strong clubs around London and the south-east.

A major factor in Chichester’s success this season has been in the strength of their under-17 girls’ squad and the final match was no exception.

Even without Chichester’s youth sport achievement award winner Izzie Brown, the rest of the team was much too strong for the opposition and would have been a match for any squad.

In the sprints, Annabelle Hellyer, Alex Fryday, Sophie Atkinson and Nathalie Godden showed good speed, while there was fine running in the middle-distance events from Beth Garland, Georgina Warner and Polly Hounsome.

In the field Tessa Shipton, Sophie Barrett and Abi Humphrey were unbeaten in nine events between them supported by Godden who, like both Garland and Fryday, was competing for the second consecutive day having represented their schools the previous day.

While the under-17 boys have not been as strong this year, the six on duty at Watford kept the scoreboard ticking with Callum and Jordan Adams busy in the middle-distance events while Ollie Pickersgill maintained his fine record in the steeplechase.

The other three under-17s were making their first league appearances of the season with Lewis Mason and Chris Armstrong in the sprints and George Neame bolstering the throws.

The under-15 boys have carried all before them and for the second match in a row throwers George Humphrey and Peter Thomas scored maximum points in shot, discus and hammer while Tom Ackerman and Collins Alfred were unbeaten in 100m, 200m and 400m.

It was good to see Casey Keates back from injury to win the 800m with Josh James winning the 1,500m and the javelin. Ed Gerwat and Jake Hurst provided good back-up as B strings in the distance events while Mitchell Rippon won the long jump and hurdles.

The under-15 girls have been improving match by match and provided their best all-round performance on Sunday.

Sprinters Jess Breach, Georgia Sutherland, Zoe Nunn and Kezzia Turner only dropped three points while throwers Molly Summers and Demelza Peake had a near-perfect score from shot, discus and javelin.

Lucy Ellis in the high jump and Jade Bailey in the long jump had to contend with a talented grade-one Havant athlete but were rewarded with marks near their personal bests.

Completing the under-15s were the middle-distance quartet who were bolstered by Emma Maynard making her first appearance of the season in the 1,500m, where she was partnered by Rose Ellis, with Holly Beaton and Charlotte Reading doing well in the 800m.

In the under-13s, the majority of the Chichester team had been in action the previous Wednesday in the West Sussex West schools event and did well to perform again with credit.

Abbie Moss and Alex Jarrold had narrow victories in the hurdles and high jump respectively and, with Sophie Ann Haigh and Anoushka Krum, did well to gain 40 points.

The boys were spearheaded by Zac Hurst and Brodie Keates with a double win in the 1,500m and were assisted by Sam Pink and Sam Reading in the 800m and James Austin, Joe Jones and Alex Austin in the sprints.

PHIL BAKER