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Junior Report for AGM by Phil Baker

Overview

It is difficult to know where to start a report for the club’s junior section over the last year as so much has happened over cross country, sports hall, indoor athletics, road running and track & field.

 

What encapsulates the importance of the juniors to the club can be demonstrated in what has happened in the last couple of months at the start of the cross-country season. At the Goodwood Relays at the end of September our senior men’s team finished a fine second behind Lewes in the Sussex Championship race, just failing to become Chichester’s first ever men’s champions by less than half a minute.  Apart from James Baker, now in the veteran ranks, the team was Harry Leleu (running on the day of his 21st birthday, Will Boutwood also 21 and Conrad Meagher 22. Then two weeks later in the first Sussex league the senior women won Division 1 with a team of Olivia Wiseman 16, Imogen Matthews 16, Alice Wright 19 and Tara Sallaba 15, all four athletes finishing in the top 15 in the race. Not far behind the club’s “B” team were Alice Cox-Rusbridge 17, Bo Sansom 16 and Florence Smith 16 placing 3rd in Division 2. So, the juniors and recent juniors are not only the club’s future but a vital part of the present as well.

 

January 2017

At the Sussex cross country championships at Bexhill there were team medals in both under 17 races with Grace Wills, Imogen Matthews and Alice Cox Rusbridge 6th, 7th and 8th in the girls race just losing out to Brighton Phoenix while Will Broom 2nd, Leo Stallard 5th and Luke Campbell 6th snatched gold from Hastings by a single point thanks to their good packing. In the same month Will and Grace won Sussex Schools titles as did Bishop Luffa in the intermediate girls’ race.

 

February

There were some fine performances on the indoor circuit, especially from Sophie-Anne Haigh who won the 60 metres under 20 championships as well as Rachel Laurie and Rosie Compton in the under 17’s, Fleur Hollyer and Emily Russell in the under 15’s and Sophie Dudman in the under 13’s.

 

The Sussex cross country league had its final meeting over shortened course at Hickstead but that did not put off the all-conquering under 17’s with both girls’ and boys’ teams keeping the challenge of Brighton & Hove at bay, their nearest challengers. Whereas the boys squad of Will, Leo, Luke plus Brodie Keates and Ben Collins had a 26-point winning margin, the girls had to pull out all the stops and were just 4 points clear after 4 hard fought races.

 

The indoor Sussex Sports Hall league came to an end and it is fair to say that this was not one of the club’s best seasons due to lack of numbers competing.

 

March

March was Corporate Challenge month with record fields especially in the secondary schools’ races – as well as fast times from Chichester athletes, the races once again had other club runners from across Hampshire Sussex and into Surrey to add to the competition. For many runners it is their first taste of competitive running and it has been good to follow the progress of many runners into their teens and twenties. In an interview in Athletics Weekly with Adelle Tracey, one of the athletes chosen by Kelly Holmes to light the Olympic flame in 2012, Adelle mentioned that it was running in the “Chichester evening races” for her Primary School, which first got her enthusiastic about running. She has gone on to become national 800 metres UK champion indoors and represented GB at the London World Championships this summer.

 

April

At the Christs Hospital Road Relays on April 1st, the senior men’s team finished just outside the medals with seniors Chris Bird, Will Boutwood and Conrad Meagher joined by first year under 17’s Will Broom, Leo Stallard and Ben Collins. The under 15 boys team of Alex Mani, Liam Dunne and Ned Potter finished 2nd while under 17 Grace Wills helped seniors Rebecca and Emily Moore to a senior bronze medal.

 

There were also early starts for all three age groups on the track many of the under 17’s and under 20’s in action for the senior Southern Athletics league team at Andover as well as competing for their own youth development league.

 

May

By May the track season was in full swing with the county championships the main-focus, with double wins for Sophie-Anne Haigh over 100 and 200 metres as well as Grace Wills over 800 and 1500 metres, both girls in the under 20 age group. Second claimers Alyssa White and Olivia Wiseman won gold in the under 17’s while there were also medals for Rachel Laurie, Will Broom, Leo Stallard and Brodie Keates.

 

Meanwhile in the Youth Development League younger age group Chichester having won the first match at Portsmouth, found things a bit tougher with a slightly weaker team to come only 5th out of the 6 strong clubs in round 2 at Bournemouth and knew that their aim to finish as league champions for the second season in a row was in jeopardy.

 

June

June saw Alyssa White, Sophie-Anne Haigh and Olivia Wiseman selected for the English Schools championships as well as Liam Dunne for Hampshire.

 

There was league action as well for both the senior team with the under 17’s and 20’s in action on the Saturday with the under 13’s and under 15’s on the Sunday. Both matches happened to be on the Winchester track which has no covered stand, so teams were searching for any shade available on what proved to be the hottest weekend of the year. Both teams acquitted themselves well with a special mention to the under 13’s and 15’s on the Sunday. In scorching heat, they pulled themselves back into contention losing narrowly to the home club by convincingly beating rivals Bournemouth, Woking and Walton, all highly rated clubs in the south. While all the squad of 50 played their part, one race still stands out, the under 13 boys race with Joe McLarnon battling head to head with his rival down the home straight to lose by the thickness of a vest with both the leading two completed exhausted at the finish. The surprise which followed was that the pair had run inside the top 20 times in the UK and Joe had smashed the under 13 club record with a fine 4.41.5.

 

July

The English Schools championships saw the Chichester quartet acquit themselves well and team wise all eyes were on the final lower age group match at Woking on the 15th. Chichester knew they had to win the match to stand any chance of another league title and the 48 did the club proud by storming to victory by a clear 70 points with Walton in second and crucially Winchester below hosts Woking in 4th and slipping to 3rd overall; the top three positions were Chichester 18 league points (1901 match points); Walton 18 (1835); Winchester 17 (1855). Having become league champions again, Chichester has decided to accept promotion into Division 1 for 2018 so will be up against some of the top 20 junior clubs in the South of England.

 

August

Open meetings only so the coaches had a well-reserved rest. One very sad occasion at the end of the month as we said goodbye to Phil Kearney who returned to Ireland after 8 years in West Sussex and 4 very important ones with the club where he not only spearheaded the jumps and sprints groups but also competed for the seniors and was a valuable member of the officials’ teams at junior matches. Phil, you will be greatly missed but we wish you and your wife Pauline every happiness on your return to Ireland.

 

September

September is usually a recovery period after a hard season of track and field competition, but first Chichester’s juniors had to get to grips with the two important Sussex finals. The under 15’s were in action on Friday 1st September and against all odds finished an excellent 2nd out of the 10 team with only National Premier side Crawley ahead at the end of 30 events across three hectic hours of competition. Such was the standard of competition that only Oliver Beach scored a “A” string win in the boys’ discus with Dylan Giles runner-up in the “B” string for 19 points out of 20 and the clubs best event score of the match.

For the girls the best was nearly as good, 18 points in the shot from Millie Grant and Holly Trinder. It was a testament of consistent scoring from the 30 athletes that the scores finished as follows: Crawley 439; Chichester 367; Brighton 356; Horsham 322; Worthing 259; Lewes 253; Eastbourne 187; East Grinstead 178; Phoenix 95; Haywards Heath 69.

 

A postscript to the match and a Phil Kearney legacy. Phil had just started to introduce pole vault coaching during August and Zach Entiknapp and Archie Sadler both decided to have a go in the final and cleared 2 metres and 1.60 respectively for 15 points to the total. Without their contribution Brighton & Hove would have pipped Chichester into 2nd place.

 

Two days later the Under 13 Final took place at Crawley on Sunday 3rd September and Chichester, fielding probably their least experienced team ever, did fantastically well to finish 4th out of the 10 clubs and keep the club at the top of the Sussex rankings over the 18-year that the final has been held on level points with Crawley.

 

Again, as with the under 15’s this was largely a team effort with new club high jump record holder Sophie Dudman gaining top three placings in both the 150 metres and hurdles while for the boys there was a near maximum from sprinters Callum Hale and Luke Darwen while throwers Milo Nutt, Joe Fuller and Fionn O’Murchu gained a fine 38 points out of a possible 40 in the shot and discus. Once again, the most eye-catching performance was from Joe Mclarnon who was up against UK 1500 metres number 1 in the 1000 metres. He matched his rival Ethan Scott stride for stride and it was only over the final straight that the East Grinstead runner pulled-away, but it needed a new league record of 2.56.6 to beat the Chichester man who in turn set a new club record of 3.01.5.

 

Which brings us full circle to this autumn season where we started.

 

Final thanks:

None of the above would have been possible without the many coaches who put in so much time and effort over the year. Phil Kearney we have mentioned earlier and has been tower of strength in his time at the club; Helen Dean the other Phil’s help on a Monday for a mainly running interval session. On Wednesdays, Lorna and husband Joe, assisted by Lucy and Kerrie have done wonders with the under 11’s who are going from strength to strength. Anne Sydenham helps Phil B with the main middle-distance group, which can number up to 40 athletes on occasion while Conrad Meagher takes the group of under 17 and under 20 boys / men.

 

Andy Hall, helped by Renae Brown has taken over the mantle of the sprints and jumps conditioning training with Tim Brown helping the throwers at Bishop Luffa in the summer. Dave Churcher completes the picture with his sprinting group both in the outdoor and in the winter indoor season.

 

There have been again well over 4000 athletes at training nights over the year with a record of 110 athletes of various ages attending a Wednesday in May.

 

Final thanks to the athletes and their supportive parents making the club such a rewarding place.

 

Roll on 2018

 

Phil Baker, November 2017.

 

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