STRATFORD AC sensationally retained the Warwick Vase following a highly successful Warwickshire County Championships in Nuneaton.
This remarkable feat of winning the Vase two years in succession at the championships has established them as the best overall club within the old county boundary, taking in teams from the likes of Birmingham, Solihull and Coventry.
Stratford had almost 100 juniors and two seniors taking part, ensuring there were yellow club vests competing in all parts of the track over the two days.
The medal haul was an incredible 75, but it was the fourth to eighth positions that helped the club to what in the end proved a comprehensive win.
In addition, the club had four junior athletes competing in both the Gloucestershire and Worcestershire champs and their success bought the total medal haul to 81.
Warwickshire AA president, Ray Morgan, said: “I am pleased to say that Stratford-upon-Avon AC has retained the Warwick Vase for a second year with a huge total of 797 points, so a massive well done to them.
“What a terrific performance scoring 250 more points than Coventry Godiva Harriers and 350 more than Birchfield.”
There were a huge amount of outstanding performances across so many variable events, none more than that of club chairman Paul Hawkins, who was cheered resoundingly throughout his 3,000m walk by all the team as he won gold in a time of 19.23.27.
First year under-15 multi-eventer Adam Farrow was busy across the weekend and came home with five medals, winning gold in the high jump, silver in the triple jump and bronze in the javelin, long jump and shot.
The Sheppard sisters, Jess and Imogen, also had a very successful weekend. Under-20 Jess won gold in both the gruelling 400m and 800m and silver in the unfamiliar 200m.
Under-17 Imogen emulated her sister in the 300m and 800m, before rounding her weekend off with silver in the shot and bronze in the triple jump.
Under-20 Emily Madden Forman went into the championships with a degree of trepidation after a relatively low key start to the season, but she astounded herself by winning gold in the 100m hurdles in a new PB, another gold in the long jump, just outside her PB and finished off with silver in the triple jump.
The middle distance runners are really stepping up this year in competition and for the first time the under-15 girls had the opportunity to run 3,000m, with Georgie Campbell and Ellen Taylor claiming gold and silver.
Campbell returned the next day to win silver in the 1500m and Olivia Hall took the journey to Worcester to win the bronze medal in the under-17 800m.
Under-17 Owain Jones was another to do the double, winning gold in the 800m and 1500m and under-20 Fergus Allison won bronze in the 1500m and Oscar Barbour won silver in the 3,000m.
Under-15 Millie Leighton took advantage of being able to triple jump in a big event and she won gold with 10.43m in a new championship record and Alex Powell won bronze in the under-15 boys.
The club has a deserved reputation at producing very good hurdlers and the athletes showed their class by dominating the age groups.
Under-17s Jack Sumners and Ollie Cresswell had the expected one-two in the 100m race, as did Georgia Clark and Tazmin Chape with Lucy Smith just outside the medals in fourth.
The under-13s are only just starting to learn the skill of sprint hurdling at full speed, but Freddie Clemons won silver in the 75m hurdles with Taylor Holton just missing a medal in fourth.
Lucy Lane won silver in the 70m hurdles and Holly Newton was another outside the medals in fifth. George Fox Rowe won bronze in the under-15 boys’ hurdles.
Long jump was another consistently successful event for Stratford athletes with Jack Sumners and under-20 Dan Boyd striking gold. Barunka Lowe won silver in the under-17 girls and Grace Fairweather also won silver in the under-15s. Charlie Whorrod was the silver medallist in the under-13 boys’ long jump.
The throwers were all in good form with under-17 Lewis Byng winning a hat-trick of medals (shot gold, javelin silver and hammer bronze) in the Worcester Championships.
Freddie Clemons had a busy weekend and went home with gold in the under-13 javelin and silver in the shot.
Under-15s Maddie Clark and Sarah Evans were silver medallists in the shot and discus respectively and their success was replicated by Aran Wooger in the javelin and Finlay Hutchinson in the discus. Issy Newton won bronze in the under-13 girls’ shot.
In a rare success for a Stratford athlete in the event, Dion Love won gold in the under-17 pole vault.
Slightly disappointing were the numbers of under-11 athletes competing in the four-event Quadkids competition, but Fred Williams won silver in the boys’ event, closely followed by Alex McMillan winning bronze. Tom Whorrad was fifth.
The female high jumpers probably had to contend with the most unfavourable conditions, with a strong swirling wind messing up the run up rhythm of the athletes.
However, despite only achieving relatively modest heights, under-17s Ollie Cresswell and Jodie Watson won gold and Rowan Love won silver and Will Wren an unexpected bronze.
Under-20s Issy Cain Daley and James Gionis both won gold and Taylor Holton was the silver medallist in the under-13 boys.
Wherever the spectators looked it seemed that one of the Williams family of senior Paula and under-15 twins Jasmine and Cole were competing over the weekend.
Cole had the edge on his sister in their respective hurdles, with Cole winning silver in a new PB of 11.92 and Jasmine winning bronze again in a new PB of 12.27.
Although they both won medals in other events, mum Paula had the edge on her progeny by winning gold in the triple jump and silver in the shot and javelin.
The sprinters had a good weekend with the highlight being a hat-trick of medals and PBs for under-15 Beth Cate in the 100m (gold), and 200m and 300m (silver).
Dani Horton won the bronze medal in the under-17 girls’ 100m in a new PB of 12.68 and Grace Fairweather followed Cate home in the 100m and 200m winning silver and bronze.
Under-17 Anna Gionis and under-15 Gabriella Porter finished their 300m races with bronze medals and under-17 Adam Bayliss chose the tough 400m in the variable wind and came home in 55.5 with a bronze medal.
Stratford AC coach, Paul Bearman, said: “We are incredibly proud of the club, not just winning the Warwick Vase again, which is a big deal for the whole club and the incredible amount of “bling” that the athletes won but also the huge points tally accumulated across the championships by so many athletes that contributed to the club’s success.”
He added: “But this isn’t an overnight success. It’s taken many years of hard graft to build the club to this level by so many volunteers and whilst it’s the athletes who perform on the track and in the field who get the plaudits, it’s the brilliant support they get week in and week out from all our wonderful volunteers across the club, particularly the coaches, who make this happen.”