IN THEIR 25 years of competing in the Heart of England League, Stratford Athletic Club juniors have won the Division One championship several times, but never in such convincing style as this year.
Despite winning the three highly competitive matches, the unavailability of athletes on occasions gave team managers a constant headache at every match trying to fill all the events and it certainly tested the club’s strength in depth, which it passed with flying colours.
These are occasions when the club pulls together and individual event preferences go out of the window to support the collective effort. This meant the team managers juggled 99 athletes throughout the season to fill the events and overcome stiff opposition, particularly from close rivals Coventry Godiva, Amber Valley, Rugby & Northampton and Solihull & Small Heath.
After starting the final match at Rugby in pole positon, literally every point in every age group counted towards winning the championship and the opposition certainly did not make things easy.
Individual Stratford wins were a rarity but, with so many top four places, it meant the heavy point-scoring throughout the various age groups ensured the juniors’ trophy cabinet is going to be overflowing as the club dominated the various age and gender categories.
Stratford’s U15 team manager Mike Sheppard said: “We are very happy to retain the league championship against some top teams. It’s been difficult at times when we couldn’t put our strongest team out but what has really pleased us as team managers and coaches is the willingness of our 99 athletes to try their best and pick points up throughout the team.
“It’s them who have made the difference for our club, doing so well against some very determined opposition.
“We really are all thrilled with the effort across the board from everyone involved, including our officials who make a difference because they too score points and without them the matches couldn’t take place.”
Stratford duo win medals at Home Nationals Schools Track & Field International
AFTER their success at the English Schools’ Championships, Stratford AC U17 athletes Lewis Byng and Ollie Cresswell packed their England schools vest in with their kit and flew into Dublin ready to compete in the home international against Scotland, Ireland and Wales, full of excitement after their silver medal-winning performances in the national championships.
Cresswell went to Dublin to enjoy the occasion but was also determined to beat English counterpart Josh Zeller, the victor in the ESAA Championships.
In a thrilling race they were neck and neck from gun to tape but disappointingly the photo finish and electronic timing failed during the race and, in what looked like a dead heat, Zeller was adjudged to have crossed the line first by what can only have been the thickness of a vest.
Nevertheless, Cresswell said: “I am really pleased with my silver medal and it was such a great experience representing my country.”
Equally pleased was Byng who, at the beginning of the season, could not have imagined by this time he would have been throwing 5m more than he had done previously, let alone be winning a silver medal at the national schools championships and representing England schools in the home international.
Such is his consistency, he again peppered the mid-14m mark with all his throws and finished in the bronze medal position with a solid 14.64m.
Byng said: “I’ve had a great year so far and I’m really looking forward to the rest of the season and, as this is my first year in my age group, trying to do even better in 2018.”
Report compiled by Paul Bearman.