THE DOMESTIC indoor athletics season reached another successful conclusion for Stratford Athletic Club as their juniors completed a terrific indoor campaign by comprehensively retaining the Warwickshire Sportshall League title.
Much of the credit for their success goes to the team managers, who also make sure the youngsters are coached properly during the year and enjoy their athletics during the long dark nights of winter.
Team managers Carolyne Johnston, Michelle Bartlett, Elaine Ledden, Jenny Sheppard and Mike Sheppard stretched their people-juggling skills this season to give as many youngsters a chance to be part of the club’s success.
More than 130 of the club’s U11, U13 and U15 athletes competed in the monthly matches against teams from Rugby, Coventry, Leamington and Leamington Academy.
The talented Stratford U11 and U13 youngsters were pushed by the other teams throughout the season but the U15s completely dominated their age group.
After the deciding match and another compelling evening of competitive athletics, it was announced every Stratford team had won in each age group. With every point contributing to the results, this again gave the Stratford team the overall title.
Stratford athletes dominated the season’s-best performance medals, with some of the more outstanding contributions athletes across the age groups and events.
Ellie Clark and Aran Woodger were named athletes of the year.
After the domestic success of the Stratford athletes in the league and then providing more than 50 per cent of the Warwickshire team so successful in the West Midlands regional competition, the U13 boys and the U15 boys and girls Warwickshire teams rolled into Sportcity in Manchester for the national finals.
Once again the backbone of the Warwickshire team came from Stratford – who made up two thirds of the U15 boys team and half of the girls team. They provided the basis for a great team spirit along with the other talented athletes from the Warwickshire league.
With teams from across the UK vying for medals, the Warwickshire teams rose to the occasion. Without doubt, the stars of the whole competition were Warwickshire’s U15 boys.
Stratford’s Nic Butler, Harry Sugden, Cole Williams and Alex Powell were joined by team-mates Cameron William-Stein and Gabriel Ball from Leamington and were crowned the 2018 UK final champions, with Williams as the individual star by comprehensively winning the coveted 2018 U15 boys all-round championship.
The U15s compete in a multi-event running, throwing and jumping competition. In a field of 74 athletes from ten other regions, Williams showed his all-round consistency by finishing third in the two-lap and standing triple jump and second in the speed bounce.
The Warwickshire team was pushed all the way by Berkshire, who had some quick runners, but the Warwickshire boys had greater breadth across the team, performing strongly in all disciplines, epitomised by Butler winning the triple jump with 8.51m.
Williams was backed up by Powell (eighth), Butler (18th), William-Stein (20th), Sugden (21st) and Ball (23rd) to win the title by a massive 70 points.
“I’m feeling absolutely amazing,” said Williams “and really happy that all the training and hard work has paid off”.
In the girls competition, which was dominated by strong teams from Surrey and Norfolk, Warwickshire were in another hugely fiercely-fought competition, finishing seventh of the 11 teams.
The three Stratford girls – Millie Leighton (ninth), Maddie Clark (31st) and Grace Fairweather (37th) – joined forces with Megan Burge (46th), Mica Quinn (48th) and Zoe Gardner (58th) to battle against some outstanding young athletes.
The U13 boys team had an equally tough competition but Stratford’s Oscar Albanese, Freddie Clemons, Louis Kendrick, Matthew Bexson, Henry Madden Forman and Josh Roberts showed their competitive spirit by finishing sixth overall, with Bexson winning gold in the speed bounce.
“It’s been the most successful sportshall season for a few years for Stratford,” said Mike Sheppard, Stratford’s U15 group leader.
“Although we dominated the league again, the number of athletes representing Warwickshire and doing so well regionally and nationally – and then the U15 boys and Cole winning in Manchester – has been amazing.
“Hopefully it sets us up for another successful outdoor track and field season.”