STRATFORD Athletic Club juniors have again dominated the indoor Warwickshire Sportshall Athletics League to emerge as champions, but they did not have things all their own way after meeting stronger competition than they have had in recent years.
Some 117 young athletes competed for the club over the season, with each one contributing to the success.
The under 11 boys won their age group and it took a combined Leamington and Coventry team to push the girls into second place. The under 13 girls and boys were run very close but clung on to win their age groups.
The under 15 girls were runaway winners but a depleted boys’ team were beaten into second place by a very strong Leamington Athletics Academy team.
The overall strength in depth across all the age groups was the crucial factor in winning the overall championship and under 15 team manager Mike Sheppard said afterwards: “It has been a tougher and more competitive league this year and credit for this success goes to not just all our superb athletes but the support they get from the volunteer coaches and officials. It has been a real team effort.”
Stratford athletes of the year were Alex Winning and Kate Richardson and winners of best performances were: James Verralls (U13 2-Lap Race); Caitlin Buckley (U15 2-Lap Race); Caitlin Boyle (U13 4-Lap Race); Seb Hillard (U13 4-Lap Race); Poppy Fox-Rowe (U15 4-Lap Race); Ethan Winning (U11 Chest Push and Standing Triple Jump); Lucia Cassidy (U13 Shot); Louis Newton (U11 Standing Long Jump); Josh Roberts (U15 Standing Triple Jump); Harry McDonald (U13 Vertical Jump); Charlie Perry (U11 Vertical Jump).
Fine display at Regional Sportshall finals
INDOOR Sportshall athletics combines a tremendous amount of variable skill sets like speed and mobility within a relatively confined space and a record 27 Stratford AC juniors were selected to display their talents when they formed the lion’s share of the Warwickshire team for the under 11, 13 and 15 West Midlands Regional Sportshall finals.
Alongside athletes from Rugby, Coventry and Leamington, the Stratford aces were keen to impress for Warwickshire in the Solihull finals against teams from Birmingham, Hereford & Worcestershire and Shropshire.
Apart from winning the regional competition, also at stake for the under 13s and 15s is the chance to go to the national finals and the expected strong competition – particularly from long-time rivals Birmingham – did not disappoint the packed crowd.
In this type of competition, every point is crucial and the strength of the Warwickshire teams picking up points from the middle finishing positions in the events made a considerable difference to the results.
The U13 girls and both the U15 teams won their respective age groups, defeating their rivals from Birmingham, and the U13 boys finished second behind a dominant Birmingham team, which rounded off a hugely successful day with the three teams through to the national finals in Sheffield in April.
The under 15 athletes compete in a three-event all-rounder competition and the outstanding performance from a Stratford athlete came from Caitlin Buckley whose consistency across her three events – 2-Lap race ((2nd), Speed Bounce (4th) and the Vertical Jump (3rd) earned her the overall silver medal.
Poppy Fox-Rowe finished sixth overall and won the 6-Lap race, whilst Lucy Lane (4th) and Holly Newton (12th) were the epitome of consistency across their events, with Lane winning the silver in the Standing Long Jump.
Josh Roberts finished fifth overall and won bronze medals in the Shot and Standing Triple Jump and Joel Milner finished 13th, adding valuable points to what turned out to be a close competition with only four points separating Warwickshire and Birmingham.
Linden Williams (Speed Bounce), Harry McDonald (Vertical Jump) and Tom Weaver (Shot) won gold medals. Seb Hillard won bronze in the 4-Lap race and James Verralls was just outside the medals in the 2-lap race. Luca De Freitas Pires was unfortunately injured and could not take his place in the team.
Maddie Linfoot won silver in the 6-lap race and also competed in the Shot (5th) when filling in for Lucia Cassidy who could not make it back from a tennis tournament in Kent in time.
Both Antonia Leece (4-Lap) and Caitlin Boyle finished fifth in the Vertical Jump.
The Under 11 event is a knock out competition with no progression to a national final and the Warwickshire girls competition finished with the girls in second place behind Birmingham and the boys in third position behind Birmingham and a surprisingly strong performance from Shropshire.