Thanks to a dominant display by the under-15 boys and under-17 women, Chichester emerged just one point short of the 700 mark to finish a close second behind host club Camberley.
In doing so they managed to overturn most of the deficit over league leaders Bournemouth to make for an exciting final fixture on June 17 at the Mountbatten Centre, Portsmouth.
The most successful part of Chichester’s 45-strong squad were the under-15 boys, who accounted for 181 points of Chichester’s total. With nine points for an A string win and seven in the B string, the club notched up 15 first places from 26 events.
The strongest combination was from Peter Thomas and George McKay in the throws with an A and B string double in the shot and hammer with Thomas adding another win in the discus before McKay made it a clean sweep in the javelin.
Collins Alfred and Max Newton were too good for the opposition in the 100m while James Amos teamed up with Collins in the 200m before going on to win the 300m and long jump, well-supported by Zac Hurst and Newton.
The middle-distance quartet of Casey Keates, Ed Gerwat and Sam and Jake Pillans managed three seconds and a first in the 800m and 1,500m.
Nearly 100 points clear of their nearest rivals were the under-17 women, including no less than five new members of the squad, who accounted for more than half of their 172 points.
The versatility of the nine athletes was the secret of their success. Grace Hooper showed good sprinting speed and gained a second in the javelin while long and triple jumper Megan Adams backed up well in the 100m. Sprinter Libby Swan finished the day with a triple-jump win.
Lucy Ellis teamed up with Nicola Mead in the 1,500m, then with Rea Briggs in the high jump and Kezzie Turner in the 300m hurdles.
Regular thrower Nicola Partridge was joined by Imogen Terry and Portia Wilson-Smith for another four wins between them.
In the under-15 girls’ age group there was another strong showing with the sprint quartet of Sophie Anne Haigh, Jess Breach, Jade Bailey and Abbie Moss ending the match in style by breaking the club record in the 4x100m relay with a fine 54.3-second win, beating a talented Bournemouth squad.
Equally as impressive were the middle distance squad of Tara Bage, Rose Ellis, Saskia Gardam and Holly Beaton in some of the closest races of the day.
With Molly Whatmore and Zoe Nunn picking up good points in the throws, Chichester just broke through the 100-point barrier.
The under-17 men suffered through lack of numbers but the four athletes present still racked up 91 points.
Dan Eeles, primarily a middle-distance runner, managed a high jump and long jump double while James McKenzie supported his 1,500m win with a B string shot putt. Josh James tackled the 3,000m for a personal best but scored well in the javelin and triple jump, while thrower George Humphrey had a commanding shot and discus double.
Chichester’s under-13s gave a good account of themselves against strong competition.
The boys’ middle-distance group were impressive with Josh Eeles, Brodie Keates, Ben Collins and Will Broom all turning in good times in the boys’ races, while Maddie Smith, Abbie Pillans and Anna and Katie Hains matched them in the girls.
Amelia Freeman, Daniel Jonco-Ritchie and Sam Haigh gave depth in the sprints, jumps and relays to aid Chichester’s excellent score.
1 Camberley 754pts
2 Chichester 699
3 Bournemouth 571
4 Portsmouth 469
5 New Forest 379
6 Havant 251