Lancing trip makes for sunny end to Chichester’s bright cross-country season

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Chichester finished one of the most successful cross-country league seasons in their 26-year history by scooping a host of individual and team awards after the final match of the season at Lancing.

The juniors, seniors and veterans were all vying for honours and it was not until the final event that the senior men retained their division-one status for another season.

The day started with three out of the four junior teams in medal contention and the under-15 girls were in the tightest position, a single point off gold after three matches and one point in front of bronze.

As the 4,000m race unfolded, Chichester’s Georgina Warner headed the field with Emma Maynard and Hannah Croad also in the top ten at halfway.

Warner increased her lead to claim her first league victory by the impressive margin of 49 seconds and claim individual league silver into the bargain.

With Maynard and Croad eighth and ninth the team total of 18 points looked impressive – but league leaders Worthing saw their first two scorers finish second and third, so it was a tense wait to see if their third scorer could finish 13th or better to equal Chichester’s score on the day and win the overall trophy.

After the first dozen had crossed the line, a Worthing vest appeared into view to give their team 18 points and relegate Chichester to silver by one point.

Fourth Chichester scorer on the day Nicola Mead collected a team medal for her part in the season.

In the boys’ under-15s Chichester knew they had too much ground to make up to catch the leading two teams but a strong showing would ensure bronze medals.

James McKenzie gave his club its second individual win of the day, claiming the gold medal on countback. Harry Leleu had a fine run to finish in a best-ever third place and with George Dempster tenth, the trio were the top team on the day with 14 points for team bronze medals.

The under-13 boys were apprehensive as the season’s top two Ed Gerwat and Harry Lyne were unavailable.

It was left to Casey Keates to lead the way with a good eighth place, followed by Brodie Keates and Ewan Willis in 23rd and 24th respectively with William Kallaway in reserve. With a total of 55 points they were just four points off bronze, which went to Hastings.

The under-13 girls knew they had too much to do to get into medal contention after a poor team performance in the first fixture at Goodwood in October.

But they have more than made up for it since then with bronze medals in the county championships in January, and they went one better with second place on the day, with Rose Ellis leading the way in fifth, Charlotte Reading seventh and Holly Beaton eighth for a team total of 20 points, just behind champions Hastings but in front of Brighton, Crawley and Worthing.

The junior presentations also saw Chichester’s whole squad presented with the Sussex team shield won at the county championships.

While the club’s seniors were not in line for team medals, they needed to give a good account of themselves to maintain their unbroken stay in division one. This they accomplished with comparative ease with James Baker leading the way with a fine second place to ensure individual silver for the season behind Ben Warren from Hailsham, whom Baker had got the better of in the recent Chichester 10k.

Next home in 24th was Ed Porter one of the club’s top improvers this season, well in front of four clubs veterans – Dave Dorning, who secured an over-50 bronze with 45th spot, followed by Rob Wiggins in 52nd, Tom Blaylock 59th and Chris Benham 63rd.

The second team comprised Martin Miller in 79th, Colin Harley 89th, Jan Hill 91st and John Betts 94th while in the senior women’s race,, Fay Cripps had her best run of the season in sixth and Lynn Harley was 74th.

PHIL BAKER