NEARLY 100 Stratford Athletic Club members, mostly juniors, descended on the Pingles track in Nuneaton for the Warwickshire County Championships and the club was once again crowned best overall within the county.
Points are allocated to performances in finals – eight for a win, seven for second and so on – to find the best overall club which then receives the Warwick Vase which Stratford won for the first time in 2016 and have retained since then.
This year the club scored 875.5 to win by more than 300 points from nearest rivals Birchfield Harriers.
In addition to the record medal haul of 83 – featuring 32 gold, 27 silver and 24 bronze – all athletes who reached finals massively helped the club to a comprehensive win.
“Wherever I looked, there were bodies in yellow Stratford vests competing,” observed John Turner, one of SAC’s officials who worked as a timekeeper at the championships.
“One of the other timekeepers asked me if we were cloning our athletes!”
All the Stratford medallists and finalists were spread right across the age groups and were involved in almost every event.
Two athletes – shot-putters Lewis Byng and Thomas Weaver – set championship records. Byng launched his shot out to 17.07m to add more than two metres to the previous U20 championship best, while Weaver won the U13 boys’ title with 7.01m.
Weaver also took silver in the discus (17.81m) and led a Stratford 1-2-3 in the javelin (32.10m) from Freddie Williams (23.15m) and Jake Richardson (18.68m).
Stratford dominated many of the hurdling events with Jack Sumners winning the U20 title in 14.29, just 0.39 shy of the championship record.
The club secured a sweep of the medals in the U13 boys’ 75m hurdles as Linden Williams won gold (14.21), James Verralls silver (15.60) and Freddie Williams bronze (15.72).
Freddie Clemons was a clear winner of the U15 boys’ 80m hurdles in 11.47. In his first competitive hurdles race, Joshua Roberts took bronze (12.96). Cole Williams dominated the U17 men’s 100m hurdles in 13.32, with Harry Sugden picking up bronze (14.74).
In the senior men’s 110m hurdles, Nacho Fernandez won his seventh consecutive county title in 22.84.
After winning the county schools intermediate girls’ combined events over two days, Millie Leighton stepped up to the 300m hurdles for U17 women for the first time and won gold in 49.45 from team-mate Charlotte Gravelsons (50.62).
George Fox-Rowe, the combined events silver medallist, contested the U17 men’s 400m hurdles and took silver in 63.38.
The middle and longer distance races proved to be another rich source of success and several of them started the track and field season where they left off in the winter.
Georgie Campbell controlled the U17 women’s 1,500m from gun to tape, finishing in 4:53.46. Alex Adams ran two impressive races, dominating the U15 boys’ 3,000m in 9:53.91 and picking up silver in the 1,500m in 4:30.13. Adam Taylor took bronze in the 3,000m in 10:53.82.
Niamh Hillard ran a superbly judged race to win the U13 girls’ 1,500m in 5:14.50. Poppy Fox-Rowe took bronze with a gutsy run in the U15 girls’ 800m (2:27.45) and Imogen Sheppard won gold in the U20 800m in 2:20.36, followed home by bronze medallist Daisy Musk (2:25.47).
In a good weekend for the endurance group, coach Paul Hawkins weighed in with a silver medal in the veterans 3,000m race walk.
Stratford’s sprinters also produced some good medal-winning performances. Cole Williams (11.67) won silver in the U17 men’s 100m and Oscar Albanese (12.67) and Mathew Millward-Brookes (11.64) won bronze in the U15 and U20 100m respectively.
Jess Sheppard got some speed work in by winning bronze in the U20 women’s 100m (12.86) and followed that up with 200m silver in 26.11. Maisie-Joy Spriggs was a bronze medallist in the U13 girls’ 200m in 30.8.
Imogen Sheppard won gold in the U20 women’s 400m in 59.10 and Daisy Musk the silver in 63.58.
Adam Bayliss won bronze in the U20 men’s 400m in 55.18 and Dave Battersby took silver in the senior men’s race (57.50).
Over the past few years field events have become a rich source of success for Stratford and this was epitomised by the medal haul across every event. The hammer is not traditionally a strong event for Stratford but two U13 girls – Martha Peters and Olivia Hawkyard – entered.
The problem was they thought they had entered the lightweight howler throw, so some quick tuition and coaching was necessary and meant they were able to compete and won gold and silver with 5.96m and 4.75m respectively.
In the U13 discus, Emilie Ross (13.48m) won silver and U17 Ollie Wear (34.93m) won gold.
Under coach Sandy Green’s tutelage, the javelin proved to be one of Stratford’s most successful events. Ollie Wear led a Stratford 1-2-3 in the U17 boys’ javelin with 50.37m, followed by Adam Farrow (41.55m) and Acelin Smith (36.77m). Joshua Roberts won the U15 boys’ title (40.90m) and Nacho Fernandez took senior gold (29.32m).
In the U13 girls’ event Maddie Linfoot (20.05m) won silver and Nikola Wodzisz (15.54m) bronze. There were also bronze medals in the shot put for U17s Adam Farrow (9.49m) and Maddie Clark (8.42m) and U13 Antonia Leece (5.10m).
Podium clean sweep
Freddie Clemons (5.94m), Oscar Albanese (5.13m) and Zach McKenzie (5.01m) all jumped personal bests to take the three podium places in the U15 boys’ long jump.
Alex Powell (5.84) won the U17 men’s long jump title, closely followed by George Fox-Rowe (5.53m) in the silver medal position. James Verralls (4.05m) won silver and Eric Spencer (3.98m) the bronze in the u13 boys.
U20s Jack Sumners (6.91m) and Mathew Millward-Brookes (5.96m) won gold and bronze respectively and Nacho Fernandez (4.13m) silver in the senior men.
Not to be outdone, the girls weighed in with two gold medals with Kaili Woodward (5.24m) winning the U20s and Lucy Lane (4.68m) the U15s.
In the triple jump U15s, Sofia Wood (8.70m) won gold and Zach McKenzie (10.17m) and Callum West (8.55m) silver and bronze in the boys.
A delighted U17 Nick Butler broke 13 metres for the first time with 13.10m to win gold and Ollie Wear won silver with a PB jump of 11.63m and Millie Leighton (10.18m) won silver in the girls’ event.
The high jump was one success after the other with Stratford again dominating the age groups. U13s Freddie Williams (1.20m), Oliver Battersby (1.15m) and Alex McMillan (1.15m) were all on the podium along with Emily Grant who won silver with 1.05m.
U15 Freddie Clemons (1.67m) won gold and with a PB Zach McKenzie (1.58m) won bronze. After a shaky start Lucy Lane went on to equal her PB to win with 1.51m.
Emily Madden Forman is still carrying an ankle injury but one jump of 1.55m in the senior women’s competition was good enough for gold and in the senior men Nacho Fernandez won with 1.40m.
A steady series of jumps meant U17 Faye Gourlay won with 1.50m in the U17 women’s. In the men’s event George Fox-Rowe (1.65m) won silver and Harry Gravelsons took bronze with 1.35m.
In the final event U20 Kaili Woodward (1.55m) won gold and on her return to competition Jodie Watson (1.50m) won silver.
“We are thrilled to win the Warwick Vase again for the fourth year running,” said Paul Bearman. “The coaching team is incredibly proud of the club’s athletes in the championship who have all contributed to the club’s success, but it’s a team effort and, without the unstinting support from the volunteer coaches and officials, this sort of success simply wouldn’t happen.”
Report produced by Jon Mulkeen.