Chichester juniors put to test in new athletics division

Chichester Runners juniors at Crawley / Picture by Lee Hollyer
Chichester Runners juniors at Crawley / Picture by Lee Hollyer

Newly-promoted Chichester battled against talented opposition to make an encouraging start to their division-one campaign in their opening Youth Development League match at Crawley.

A squad of nearly 40 put in some fine performances and although the team as a whole lost out to four of the other five teams in the match, there were some very encouraging signs for the rest of the season.

With over half of the title-winning division-two champions from 2017 having moved into the higher age group, the squad had a new look, especially in the under-13s where all but three of the 15 athletes were newcomers.

With the next fixture at Horsham on May 19, team managers are confident a mid-table placing is well within their capabilities.

Under-15 boys

The best performances of the day came from the under-15 boys where throwers Oliver Beach and Vinnie Conte-Smith went through the day unbeaten as a pairing.

Conte-Smith had just the better of things in the hammer, while Beach took the initiative in both discus and shot, a 10.67 best in the shot the highlight.

Showing the importance of having two strong competitors in each event, the pair successfully won the B strings in all three events to go with the A strings, the first time a club pair has achieved a clean sweep at this standard.

Elsewhere in the field events Archie Sadler cleared two metres in the pole vault while Jack Wadham, in his first competition for the club, produced good high and long jumps. Zach Entiknapp was on form in the javelin.

Last year’s club record holder in the under-13 age group, Joe McLarnon, was not put off by move into the under-15s and led from the front in the 1,500m on the opening laps. He held off all his chasers bar one for a well-deserved second place in a time of 4.42, just outside his personal best.

To complete the squad, three athletes who originally planned to gain experience as reserves ended up by playing an important part in the points total. Gabryel White, Kyle Chaplin and Bradley Holder were all newcomers to the track team but finished with eight events between them.

Under-15 girls

A pair of under-15 girls shone throughout the afternoon and finished with the second highest points score.

Millie Grant started with a win in the hammer with a 20m-plus effort with Maya Solly runner-up in the B string. The pair gained a couple of close second places in the shot with Solly also in action in the discus.

On the track there was a well-balanced look to the squad with Fleur Hollyer setting a new personal best in the 100m with Sophie Dudman in support while Grant and Dudman looked after the 200m.

Dudman was on good form in the hurdles with Georgia Colston while the middle-distance events were well covered by the club’s four scorers and a host of reserves.

Nicole Boltwood and Nina Moranne led the club home in the 800m and 1,500m respectively with support from Cerys Dickinson and Tamsin Anelay plus non-scorers Emily Weymouth, Hannah Carmichael, Maddie Byers and Skye Sadler.

Maisie Sadler and a quartet of Chichester girls gained experience in the non-scoring 100m while twin sister Syke earned useful points in the pole vault after regular winter training.

Hollyer showed her versatility in javelin and high jump, two events which are part of the heptathlon if she decides to go in that direction as an under-17.

Under-13 boys and girls

There was really only one seasoned athlete in the under-13 squad with Fionn O’Murchu leading from the front. After a close third place in the 800m, his primary event, O’Murchu showed the importance of all-round ability by winning the shot with a throw of 7.86, a new personal best, as well as a reasonable mark in the javelin.

After a successful cross-country season and Corporate Challenge series, Chichester knew they were going to be strong in the middle-distance events with Harvey McGuiness and Hal Edgar forming a good partnership in the 1,500m while Barney McLarnon, Joshua Dunne and Tom Williams all showed good speed over 800m, all three setting personal bests.

Arthur Dearlove and Marcus Bone showed good team spirit by lining up for a first attempt at the hurdles and the rest of the squad ensured all events were covered.

It was much the same for the under-13 girls and the six athletes in action showed a variety of talents to cover the 18 events.

Tilly Russell-Stoneham and Amelie McGurk led the middle-distance events and showed their versatility by teaming up in the high jump.

Gabi Styles and Lucy Hollyer proved a good pairing in the 75m and long jump while Ruby Chandler tackled the shot and javelin.

Grace Bishop was one of the few primary-school pupils involved but played her part in full with three events requiring different skills: the 1,200m, 150m and the shot, epitomising the positive attitude of the whole team.

Match score

1 Horsham 541

2 Guildford & Godalming 529

3 Winchester & District 446

4 Kingston 440

5 Chichester 415

6 Team Dorset 391