There was a famous win for Chichester’s junior boys in their final National League match at Horsham.
And while the girls could not quite match the performance in fifth, the combined result enabled the club to achieve their best showing of the season in third place.
With more than 50 events over a packed four-hour programme, the all-round strength of the 34-athlete squad made the difference with a host of personal-best performances in sprints, middle distance, jumps and throws.
Chichester had the best possible start when James Gillett and Michael Ackerman achieved what proved the only double A and B-string win of the day with maximum points in the under-15 boys’ hammer – Gillett setting a new best to win the A string.
Two second places in the shot were followed by thirds in the discus to give the pair 50 points from their combined efforts, a major contribution to the team’s total.
Against some nationally-ranked athletes the four under-15 middle-distance runners all performed with credit. Ben Collins was third in the 800ms with a new best of 2.12.1, supported by Kai Terry, who broke his previous best in the B string.
The 1,500m pairing of Ben Morton and Leo Stallard set new lifetime bests with Morton close to the 4.40 barrier in the A string. Brandon Bell had his usual busy afternoon spearheading both the 100m and 200m as well as lowering his 300m mark to 39.1 sec.
Harry Carter and Jack Blackman made a good team in the high jump with Blackman setting a new best of 4.72 in the long jump, Collins in support.
To cap a fine day for the under-15s, the 4x300m relay team of Collins, Blackman, Stallard and Bell lowered the club record for the third match in a row to leave it at an impressive 2.52.1.
The under-13 boys were not to be outdone and emerged as top under-13 boys team of the day with 144 points, five ahead of Guildford with Portsmouth back on 122.
Cellan Robinson set the ball rolling with A-string wins in 100m and 200m, with new bests of 13.3sec and 27.2sec respectively. And with Jack Dean offering good B-string support, a fine total of 33 points was achieved over two events.
As with their under-15 counterparts, Chichester’s quartet of middle-distance runners battled well against tough opposition with Jeremy Sharp and Harry Sage both just outside 2.30 in the 800m.
Ned Potter and Ryan Darwin were less than a second apart either side of the 5.10 mark in the 1,500m, with all four athletes setting personal bests.
Multi-eventer Sam Price was first just edged into second place in the hurdles, with Ethan Brown taking the runners-up spot in the B string.
Another second place for Price came in the long jump, with Sage in support, before he achieved a well-deserved win in the high jump.
B string JJ Staples unluckily had to withdraw during the competition after landing awkwardly.
Also in the under-13 boys’ squad, Brown and Dean combined well in the javelin while Robinson and Harry Talbot scored good points in the shot. Talbot was edged out of a B string win by a single centimetre.
The relay quartet of Price, Dean, Brown and Robinson set a season’s best of 56.5 in second place.
While finding places in the top two difficult to come by in individual events, the girls stuck to their task and contributed a very useful 224 points to the total, ensuring a top-three finish for Chichester for the second match in a row.
The overall standard in the girls under-15s in this league has been of the highest quality. Portsmouth, Guildford, Aldershot, Bournemouth and Horsham are all known for their strength in the women’s side of their clubs while Lewes and Havant have also had impressive athletes on view.
The match started with the under-15 girls’ hammer and Natalie Gzik and Kerrie Pafford were both over 16m for a fourth A string and second B string, which resulted in a 14-point total.
The pair then notched a number of third and fourth places in shot and discus for a combined total of 40 points from three events.
Catherine Scott was on good form in the high and long jumps with Alyssa White and Grace Wills offering strong support.
On the track Rachel Laurie and Imogen Deacon stuck to their task in the sprints to record times close to their best while White and Scott teamed up well in the 300m. Wills was backed up by Amelia Freeman in the 800m and set a new best time of 2.36.5. White and Freeman both ran well over the hurdles.
The standard in the under-13 girls’ match was no less competitive but Chichester s were set on their way by fine sprinting from Holly Heffron and Lily Bradley over 75m and 150m.
In the middle-distance events, a new combination of Coco Smythe and Caitlin Brown in the 800m saw the two runners separated by less than a second, while Charlotte Bullard was joined by Emma Farquhar for the 1,200m.
There was good hurdling from Amber Dodd while Smythe showed her all-round ability with a good javelin throw before teaming up with Heffron in the high jump for Chichester’s best result of the day in the age group. There was a third place for Smythe in the A string and a second for Heffron in the B string.
Final match score
1 Portsmouth 731pts
2 Guildford & Godalming 612
3 Chichester 582
4 Lewes 508
5 Bournemouth & Poole 503
6 Horsham Blue Star 453
7 Aldershot & Farnham 279
8 Havant 205
Chichester under-15s go to the same venue tomorrow. On Sunday the under-17s and under-20s travel to Winchester for the final fixture in the National Youth Development League.