STRATFORD AC juniors have been crowned Heart of England League Division One champions after an extraordinary final meeting in Rugby.
The league returned this year, following a three-year absence due to the Covid-19 pandemic, as Stratford finished top of the pile despite the final event taking place at the home track of their closest challengers.
Stratford held a slender lead over Rugby and Northampton AC heading into the meeting as the latter dominated the track events with Stratford just behind.
However, Stratford’s athletes picked up big points in the field events, which proved a more even contest between the eight clubs, to be crowned Division One champions
Under-15 Age Group Leader Mike Sheppard said: “We didn’t expect that result! With the revised scoring system now being aggregate points across the three age groups it was a great effort all round and like we always say, every single point and place really does count.
“The unavailability of athletes gave the team managers a constant headache at every match trying to fill all the events and it certainly tested the club’s strength in depth, which it passed with flying colours.
“It was touch and go right to the last match and these are occasions when the club pulls together and individual event preferences go out of the window to support the collective effort.
“This has meant the team managers juggled over 80 athletes throughout the season to fill the events and overcome stiff opposition, particularly from close rivals Rugby and Northampton and Solihull and Small Heath but the opposition certainly didn’t make things easy.”
In addition to being named Division One champions, Stratford also topped four individual age groups as their under-13 girls, under-15 boys and under-17 ladies athletes all triumphed whilst also claiming the overall female title.
The club’s under-13 boys finished second as did the under-15 girls and under-17 men whilst Stratford were second male club overall. The under-11 boys finished fifth and and under-11 girls third in their respective age groups.
The best individual performances across the season were: Billy Sheppard under-11 long jump (3.89m), Scarlett Dawson under-13 100m (13:68 seconds) and 200m (28:46 secs), Arran Cooper under-13 1500m (5:03:1), Jake Richardson under-15 high jump (1.51m), Nikola Wodzisz under-15 shot put (8.68m), Joel Masters under-15 100m (11:4 secs) and 200m (23:5 secs), Issy Newton under-17 shot put (9.18m) and Lucy Lane under-17 high jump (1.6m).
Elsewhere, Elaine Ledden and Dave Wilson joined competitors from the police and civil service across the United Kingdom to compete at the Police Services UK Athletics Championships.
And Ledden impressed at The Pingles Stadium in Nuneaton to finish second in the 100m (15.42 secs) and third in the 400m with Dave Wilson fourth in the veteran’s 100m, second in the 400m (60:58) and third in the long jump (4.47m).