WITH Stratford AC’s track and field facilities unavailable to train on for nearly two months due to it being refurbished, the performance of 100 Stratford juniors and four seniors at the Warwickshire County Championships in Nuneaton was all the more remarkable as they won the Warwick Vase for the third year running.
The trophy is awarded to the best overall club within the old Warwickshire county boundary, taking in Birmingham, Solihull and Coventry, which includes the traditional ‘big’ clubs such as Birchfield Harriers and Coventry Godiva.
Points are allocated to performances – eight for a win, seven for second, etc – to find the best overall club which then receives the Warwick Vase. The Stratford medal haul was a superb 74 (33 gold, 21 silver and 20 bronze) but it was the fourth to eighth positions for athletes reaching the finals that really helped the club to what was ultimately a comprehensive win.
With so many athletes covering dozens of events, it meant there was a constant swarm of busy athletes in their yellow club vests competing in all parts of the track virtually non-stop over two days.
The club’s strong hurdling pedigree was once again on show as Commonwealth youth silver medallist Jack Sumners and Ollie Cresswell ran neck-and-neck for much of the U20M 110m hurdles.
In an exhilarating – and almost synchronised – race, Sumners edged out Cresswell on the line to take the gold medal as both athletes clocked personal bests of 14.13 and 14.17 respectively.
The duo are now fifth and sixth respectively in this year’s British U20 rankings.
Sumners picked up another gold medal in the U20m long jump, leaping 6.65m, while Cresswell had earlier won the 400m hurdles in 56.93.
Cole Williams, meanwhile, added to the club’s hurdling success by winning the U17M 100m hurdles in 14.95.
Alex Adams was another of the club’s star performers at the championships. He produced a stunning run of 4:49.64 to win the 1500m and followed it with a gutsy display in the 800m to hold off his long-time rival from Solihull in the home straight and win in 2:21.59.
All of Stratford AC’s gold medallists were spread right across the age groups, none more so than in the javelin as U13 girl Holly Newton (22.37m), U15 boy Ollie Wear (44.75m), senior Paula Williams (34.88m) and U20 man Daniel Hague (37.20m) all made it to the top of the podium.
U13 boy Josh Roberts also earned javelin gold in his age category and broke the championship record with his throw of 35.37m. Wear also won the U15 boys’ discus with 23.97m, while Tulah Searle won the U13 girls’ discus with a throw of 13.65m.
U17 man Aran Woodger (7.78m) and U20 man Isaac Sergeant (7.15m) won gold in their respective shot put competitions, whilst Ellie Clarke took top spot in the U17 women’s shot put and was joined on the podium by Maddie Clark and Charlotte Gravelsons for a Stratford 1-2-3.
In the jumping events – another strong area for Stratford AC – U13 boy Charlie Whorrod (4.72m) and U15 boy Freddie Clemons (5.15m) took long jump titles, while U13 boy Zach McKenzie (1.45m) and U15 boy Adam Farrow (1.65m) won gold medals in the high jump.
Emily Madden Forman won U20 women’s high jump gold and produced a championship record-equalling leap of 1.65m.
Millie Leighton broke her own championship record to win the U15 girls’ triple jump with 10.66m and U17 woman Charlotte Gravelsons and U20 man Isaac Sergeant also topped the podium in their respective triple jump competitions.
Mathew Millward-Brookes produced one of the best performances in a flat sprint event to win the U17 men’s 200m in 23.46 and Jess Sheppard moved down to the 400m to win in 58.8, while U13 girl Lucy Lane had a great run in the 100m, holding off the field to win in 13.65.
In the middle-distance events, Georgie Campbell controlled the U17 women’s 1,500m from gun to tape to win in 4:47.76, U17 woman Imogen Sheppard won the 800m in 2:19.66 and older sister Jess won the U20 women’s race in 2:25.72.
Emma Bexson and U15 boy Louis Kendrick both won in the 3,000m, as did the club’s newest British international Paul Hawkins in the senior 3,000m race walk.
Lewis Byng competed at the Worcestershire Championships and won three medals in the throws, bringing Stratford AC’s county championships medal haul to 77.
“We are incredibly proud of the club’s athletes, officials and coaches,” said Paul Bearman.
“Not just for winning the Warwick Vase again, but also for the huge points tally accumulated across the championships by so many athletes who contributed to the club’s success.”