STRATFORD Athletic Club’s juniors agonisingly failed to defend their Heart of England League championship title which slipped through their fingers after a nail-biting finish to the last match of the season in Redditch.
The complicated way the results are compiled meant the Stratford team just had their noses in front of the very strong combined Rugby & Northampton squad going into the last match.
Stratford’s dominant under 15 and 17 teams continued their march towards their respective age group titles but a weakened under 13 squad could not quite amass enough points, despite a good team effort, to contribute the points needed to retain the title and Stratford had to settle for second place.
The blustery conditions played havoc all afternoon but consistent performances throughout the age groups – picking up points and excelling on the day by producing personal bests – is one of the strengths of Stratford athletes.
The under 15 middle distance runners proved the point, with Owain Jones (4.41.7) and Dylan Williams (5.00.1) in the boys’ events and Georgie Campbell (5.07.6) in the girls’ winning their races.
They were followed by a double win in the 800m by Adam Bayliss (2.13.6) and Rhys Mahon (2.23.3).
Another double win for the U15s came in the long jump thanks to Barunka Lowe (4.58m) and Grace Fairweather (4.15m).
Daniel Boyd has been the epitome of constituency this season and he claimed a treble win in the U17 100m (11.6), 200m (24.00) and B long jump (5.78m).
The club is well known for its prowess in high jump and under 13s Adam Farrow (1.50m, PB) and Evie Lowe (1.42m, PB), U15 Rowan Love (1.54m) and U17s Oliver Cresswell (1.80m) and Issy Cain (1.65m) all bettered the windy conditions to record wins.
Elaine Ledden, the joint Stratford under 13 team manager, said: “All the respective age group team managers couldn’t be happier with the effort and quality of the overall team’s performance over the season but the final result showed that, with late withdrawals and the unavailability of key athletes, we just couldn’t do enough to get over the final hurdle.”
Mike Sheppard the under 15 team manager, added: “The result was a fantastic effort from the whole team and the results really reward consistent performances across every event, so it makes a huge difference to the overall outcome when our athletes are all so willing to support the team by competing in events that are not necessarily their first choice.
“Although missing retaining the title by the narrowest of margins is a bit disappointing, this in no way detracts from what has been a great campaign and our mission for next year is clear!”