Table-topping under-13s hold great hope for Chichester Runners

Chichester under-13s at Crawley
Chichester under-13s at Crawley

Chichester’s new crop of under-13s maintained the club’s proud record of finishing in the top half of the field in every year since the final was first held in 2000.

Fielding what was probably their least experienced team in the 13 years of the final, which features 11 clubs, the club’s fifth place at the K2 stadium at Crawley on Sunday meant they extended their unbroken run at the head of the Sussex all-time rankings.

With over half the 22-athlete squad making their first appearance for Chichester in a competitive fixture, the newcomers exceeded expectations to support the more experienced team members to notch up 249 points and win the battle with Hastings for fifth.

The boys’ throwing trio excelled themselves by gaining 55 out of a possible 66 points. Star of the day was Stanley Mitchell with a win in the shot with a best throw of over 8m, followed by third in the discus.

With each club’s B string as important as their A string competitor, there were good supporting performances from Johnny North and Elliott Eade, the pair going on to gain a third and fourth in the javelin.

On the track, Luke Haddow and Bradley Farmer sprinted well with Haddow following up with a good 4.20m for third in the long jump supported by Matthew Spencer.

Ben Collins and Callum Bergman showed their versatility by running fast times over 1,000m as well as putting in good performances in the high jump, while Sam Holmes and Leo Stallard kept the ball rolling in the 600m.

Without a specialist boy hurdler, Ollie Neame and Alex Austin stepped up to the plate and the 13 points they gathered between them exceeded expectations.

For the girls, fast-improving sprinter Alyssa White set the ball rolling with a fine 75m in 11secs for third place – faster than many of the boys in their final.

Chichester’s other three sprinters all have another year in the age group so it was good to see Caitlin Brown, Lucy Clark and Beth Brown give good accounts of themselves.

White went on to partner Mia Selman in the 70m hurdles and while both scored useful fourth places, Selman was the unluckiest athlete of the day by crashing into the final barrier when vying for the lead with the current Sussex record holder from Horsham.

Showing great bravery, she picked herself up and lost only three places. The fall caused Selman to pull out of the 1,000m leaving Katie Haines to fly the flag, while Emily Guiry and Anna Haines showed good speed in the 600m.

With long jumpers Amelia Freeman and Florence Smith completing the squad, mention must be made of the girls in the throws.

Guiry and Freeman had previous experience in the shot where they notched up a useful 13 points, but Beth Brown and Clark in the discus, with Anna and Katie Haines in the javelin, filled the team’s gaps to score a crucial 20 points and keep Chichester top of the table.

PHIL BAKER