Depleted Chichester athletes put up brave battle at Andover

Chichester’s senior team found themselves depleted at the weekend for their match at Andover.

What would have been a tough fixture with a full squad was even more daunting as the three opposing teams occupied the top three league spots.

Table-toppers Peterborough were triumphant ahead of host club Andover & Overton, with high-flying London side Havering Mayesbrook third and Chichester fourth.

It was a baptism of fire for many who had stepped up from the successful under-17 side to fill the gaps for the match, but Chichester had the consolation of four convincing A string wins.

Rejuvinated from a holiday, James Baker looked in commanding form on the track and was rewarded with a hat-trick of wins.

After leaving the rest of the field trailing by half a lap in the 3,000m, Baker ran a good tactical 1,500m in pulling away on a fast last lap before completing his treble with a hard-fought steeplechase.

As if this were not enough, he stepped up to run the last leg of the 4x400m relay in his quickest time for years.

The other win was from Katie Hardcastle, who made up for a somewhat disappointing season with a great leap of 5.52m in the long jump, five centimetres less than her best and leaving her the victor with more than half a metre to spare.

Tim Brown produced another 36m effort in the hammer but, like the rest of the team, found the level of competition the highest of the season.

Under-20 athletes Dzifa Kugbega and Bradley were joined on the track by under-17s Connor Whitfield, Curtis Poole, Christian Cox and Sam Thrussel and all gave a good account of themselves faced with talented opposition from 100m through to 800m.

Apart from Hardcastle, Katy Bird was the other under-20 competitor in the women’s team and showed a good turn of speed over 200 and 400m.

In the sprints Tess Shipton, Alex Fryday and Abi Humphrey battled hard, while Molly Peel joined Bird in the 400m and the pairing of Lucy Thraves and Georgina Warner managed to stay with the pace over both 800 and 1,500m.

With Sophie Barrett spearheading the jumps and Humphrey taking the lead in the throws, it was a good team effort.

The club hope most of their multi-talented athletes will be available for their last senior league fixture at the Mountbatten Centre, Portsmouth, on August 20, where they host Winchester, Hillingdon and London Heathside.

PHIL BAKER