Chichester emerged as the dominant force at under-15 level as the junior races got the Sussex Cross-Country League meeting under way at Goodwood.
Having won the relay championships three weeks earlier, the boys were confident and placed their three A team scorers in the top nine, Harry Leleu leading them home in fourth ahead of Dan Eeles (seventh) and Josh James (ninth).
Their total of 20 points was just enough to win by a single point from an improving Brighton & Hove.
George Dempster led the B team home in 11th and was well supported by Toby Hindmarsh (21st) and Casey Keates (23rd) for fifth place with 55 points. Harry Lyne (27th) and Harry Pink (42nd) were reserves for an incomplete C team.
In the girls’ event Chichester had two teams in the top five. With incredible team packing, just five seconds separated the A team of Rose Ellis in sixth, Emma Maynard seventh and Hannah Croad eighth.
Charlotte Reading and Nicola Mead were less than 15 seconds farther back for the B team in tenth and 11th with Lucy Ellis in 24th their 3rd scorer and Sophie Wright reserve in 26th.
The under-13s couldn’t quite match the under-15s but there were encouraging signs for the season.
Josh Eeles led the boys home in eighth closely followed by Ben Collins (12th) and Sam Pink (14th) for an A team total of 34 points and a comfortable third. Brodie Keates in 18th was well supported in the B team by Adam Croad (28th) and Sam Reading (34th) for ninth place on 80 points with reserve Finn Mason 42nd.
For the girls, Saskia Gardam was ninth and with Maddie Smith in 20th, Amber Westron 31st and reserve Katie Wright 39th, the team came fifth.
It was good to see James McKenzie back from injury for the under-17s in sixth place but with Greg Smith the only other Chichester athlete in 26th, they did not feature in the team rankings.
But with the return of Callum Adams and Ollie Pickersgill for the next match, the squad have a bright future.
It was no surprise to see Chichester’s women steal the headlines from the men in the senior races.
At one time fielding five runners in the top 15 of the 100-strong field, Chichester were the only club to see three runners in the top ten.
Under-17 star Beth Garland got the better of veteran Jane Harrop by one second at the end of the 5,000m course as they finished seventh and eighth. Fay Cripps came in ninth, just four seconds back.
Their team total of 24 was twice as good as their nearest rivals to put them at the head of division two – but with Sarah Fenmor Collins leading the B team in 15th their four-runner total of 39 points would have been better than every single division-one team too.
With under-17 Lucy Thraves 21st and veteran Persephone Hagan 32nd, the B team’s 68 points places them third in their division. The women’s C team also shone – coming eighth with Anneleise Dziubak 45th, Maria Wright 56th and Amanda Godfrey 57th. The D team finished 14th with Tracy Jayant 68th, Sue Baker 78th and Lois Jerrey 82nd with reserves Rachel Austin 92nd and Alex Fryday 96th.
Jo Corbett led home the men in a fine seventh place followed by Martin Barwood in 27th and veteran Paul Bleach 34th. Two more over-40s, Jim Garland in 60th and Shaun Hodges 70th, were followed home by Dave Dorning, 74th overall and sixth in the over-50s. But with a points tally of 273 the club are just outside the two relegation slots in division one.
With a Sussex League record of 162 finishers in the senior men field Chichester were able to field four more teams of four to score in the third division finishing 5th, 15th, 19th and 24th respectively.
Other Chichester scorers: Dan Turner 81st, Chris Tucker 97th, Tom Blaylock 99th, Nialls Davies 101st, Tony Hewitt 128th, Mike Moorcroft 132nd, Justin Figgins 135th, Don Faircloth 138th, Andrew Shaw 139th, Martin Miller 143rd, Terry Slade 144th, Mark Hazlewood 145th, Graham Lyne 147th, Kevin Batt 152nd, Keith Ackermann 153rd, Peter Shaw 162nd.