Stratford AC retain Warwick Vase for third year in succession

Charlotte Gravelsons, Ellie Clarke and Maddie Clark on the podium after their success in the under-17 women's shot.

STRATFORD AC retained the Warwick Vase for the third year running at the Warwickshire County Championships in Nuneaton.

With Stratford’s track and field facilities unavailable to train on for nearly two months due to it being refurbished, the performance of 100 club juniors and four seniors made the success all the more remarkable.

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 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 medal haul was an astonishing 74 (33 gold, 21 silver and 20 bronze), but it was the fourth to eighth positions for athletes reaching the finals that massively helped the club to what was ultimately a comprehensive win.

With so many athletes covering dozens of events, it meant that there was a constant swarm of busy athletes in their yellow club vests competing in all parts of the track virtually non-stop over the 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 Cresswell on the line to take the gold medal as both athletes clocked PBs, 14.13 to 14.17.

The duo are now fifth and sixth respectively in this year’s British U20 rankings for the event. 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.

Stratford AC duo Jack Sumners and Ollie Cresswell in action during the 110m hurdles at Nuneaton.

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 to 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 U13G Holly Newton (22.37m), U15B Ollie Wear (44.75m), senior Paula Williams (34.88m) and U20M Daniel Hague (37.20m) all made it to the top of the podium.

U13B 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 U15B discus with 23.97m, while Tulah Searle won the U13G discus with a throw of 13.65m.

U17M Aran Woodger (7.78m) and U20M Isaac Sergeant (7.15m) won gold in their respective shot put competitions. Ellie Clarke took top spot in the U17W shot and was joined on the podium by Maddie Clarke and Charlotte Gravelsons for a Stratford 1-2-3.

In the jumping events, another strong area for Stratford AC, U13B Charlie Whorrod (4.72m) and U15B Freddie Clemons (5.15m) took long jump titles, while U13B Zach McKenzie (1.45m) and U15B Adam Farrow (1.65m) won gold medals in the high jump. Emily Madden Forman won U20W high jump gold and produced a championship record-equalling leap of 1.65m.

Millie Leighton broke her own championship record to win the U15G triple jump with 10.66m. U17W Charlotte Gravelsons and U20M 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, winning the U17M 200m in 23.46.

Jess Sheppard moved down to the 400m to win in 58.8, while U13G 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 U17W 1500m from gun to tape to win in 4.47.76. U17W Imogen Sheppard won the 800m in 2.19.66 followed by older sister U20W Jess in 2.25.

Emma Bexson and U15B Louis Kendrick both won in the 3000m, as did the club’s newest British international Paul Hawkins in the vets 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 coach Paul Bearman.

“Not just for winning the Warwick Vase again, but also the huge points tally accumulated across the championships by so many athletes that contributed to the club’s success.”