Chichester’s under-17s and under-20s took to the track at Portsmouth for their opening fixture in the upper age group of the National Youth Development League knowing they would be in for a hard battle.
That’s because all their five opponents were of recognised national standard.
In addition to Winchester and Bournemouth, who were in the division last year, the league has seen the addition of City of Portsmouth and Southampton AC as well as Brighton & Hove to make it the strongest league in the south outside London.
In this company a squad of 25 Chichester athletes did well to keep in touch with the rest of the teams with only winners Portsmouth and second-placed Brighton and Southampton able to pull clear by the end of the match.
Chichester were just a few points adrift of Winchester.
1 Portsmouth 469
2 Brighton & Hove 443
3 Southampton City 391
4 Winchester & District 309
5 Chichester 297
6 Bournemouth & New Forest 192
The 15 athletes in the men’s squad showed their strength on the track with a number of outright victories. In the middle-distance events Chichester were the dominant team.
Will Broom and Brodie Keates continued their fine early-season form over 800 and 1,500m although much of the racing was tactical as strong winds blowing into the faces of the runners in the home straight ruled out fast times.
With the help of Ben Morton and Charalie Benson, this combined quartet of under-17s and under-20s notched a good proportion of the club’s points between them.
Three of last year’s under-15s made their first marks in the older age group with Jack Dean, Alex Mani and Harry Sage in action between them over 800, 1,500 and 3,000m.
There was a similar show of strength from the sprinters with Isaac Kilroy, Brandon Bell and Lewis Hall continuing their good form of recent weeks ably assisted by Cellan Robinson, Dean Young, Dominic Easton and Max Lambkin.
Chichester’s weakness was in the field events but Robinson in the shot and Lambkin and Alex Ioan in the long jump picked up useful points, as did Lambkin in the hurdles.
Chichester’s sprinters dominated the women’s track programme with Alyssa White shaking off the effects of a recent niggling injury to be a clear winner of both the 100m and 200m.
Rachel Laurie and Rosie Compton proved useful back-up but all three had to contend with a strength-sapping headwind in the home straight.
Laurie also tackled the 300m to good effect and was not put off by having to face UK No1 Amber Anning from Brighton in her race.
A good middle-distance quartet of Grace Wills, Caitlin Brown, Chloe Benson and Amber Dodd battled well against strong opposition from other clubs.
Amelia Freeman was fluent over the hurdles and recorded a solid long jump with Dodd equally effective in the triple jump.
Lauren Cooper joined with Lucie Munday in the discus and javelin to give the squad a well-balanced look over all the whole programme.
The next occasion when the under-17s and under-20s will be in action will be when they compete with the seniors at Poole on Sunday week (May 21) in the second round of the Southern Athletics League.
One of the longest-running evening races in the south has been saved from lapsing thanks to co-operation between Chichester Runners and the Goodwood motor circuit.
The Midsummer 5 will go ahead on Wednesday, June 21, to mark 30 years since the event was first held around the country lanes near Lavant and Goodwood.
In the early years the route used to run through the Goodwood estate with competitors able to admire the imposing Goodwood House halfway round the course.
Since the advent of the Festival of Speed the race now follows an equally-iconic route with runners able to enjoy a lap of the motor circuit from the start and finish point at Lavant Village Hall.
Entry forms are available from the Chichester Runners website, www.chichester-runners.org.uk
Entries will be limited to a relatively-modest 400 so runners are encouraged to get in early to avoid disappointment. The main five-mile race will start at 7.30pm with a junior race over a one-mile course staring at 7pm for under-15s so an exciting evening’s racing is expected for all competitors.
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