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Stratford juniors dominate but are pushed all the way

The boys in the Stratford yellow are Otis Tustin, Josh Roberts and Alex Winnery.
The boys in the Stratford yellow are Otis Tustin, Josh Roberts and Alex Winnery.


STRATFORD AC’s juniors once again dominated the Warwickshire Sportshall Athletics League and emerged as champions – but they didn’t have things all their own way after meeting stronger competition than they’ve had in recent years.

A 117-strong contingent competed for the club over the season, with everyone contributing to the success.

The U11 boys won their age group while the U11 girls finish second.

The U13 boys and girls were run very close, but managed to win their groups.

The U15 girls were runaway winners, but a depleted boys’s team were beaten into second place.

The overall strength in depth across all the age groups was the crucial factor in winning the overall championship.

U15 team manager Mike Sheppard said: “It has been a tougher and more competitive league this year and credit for this success goes to not just all our superb athletes, but the support they get from the volunteer coaches and officials.”

Stratford’s athletes of the year were Alex Winning and Kate Richardson.

Winners of the best performances were: James Verralls (U13 2-lap); Caitlin Buckley (U15 2-lap); Caitlin Boyle (U13 4-lap); Seb Hillard (U13 4-lap); Poppy Fox-Rowe (U15 4-lap); Ethan Winning (U11 chest push and standing triple jump); Lucia Cassidy (U13 shot); Louis Newton (U11 standing long jump); Josh Roberts (U15 standing triple jump); Harry McDonald (U13 vertical jump); Charlie Perry (U11 vertical jump).

INDOOR Sportshall athletics combines a tremendous amount of variable skill sets like speed and mobility within a relatively confined space and a record 27 Stratford AC juniors were selected to provide the lion’s share of the Warwickshire team that performed brilliantly in the U11, U13 and U15 West Midlands Regional finals held in Solihull.

The regional final pits the youngsters against teams from Birmingham, Hereford & Worcestershire and Shropshire.

Apart from winning the regional competition, also at stake for the U13s and U15s was the chance to go to the national finals and the expected strong competition, particularly from long-time rivals Birmingham, didn’t disappoint the packed crowd.

In this type of competition, every point is crucial and the strength of the Warwickshire teams picking up points from the middle finishing positions in the events made a considerable difference to the results.

The U13 girls and both the U15 teams won their respective age groups, defeating their perennial rivals from Birmingham and the U13 boys finished second behind a dominant Birmingham team, which rounded off a hugely successful day with the three teams through to the national finals in Sheffield in April.

Eleanor Clark and Caitlin Buckley.
Eleanor Clark and Caitlin Buckley.

The U15 athletes competed in a three event all-rounder competition and the stand-out performance from a Stratford athlete came from Caitlin Buckley, whose consistency across her three events – 2-lap race (2nd), speed bounce (4th) and the vertical jump (3rd) – earned her the overall silver medal.

Poppy Fox-Rowe finished sixth overall and won the 6-lap race whilst Lucy Lane (4th) and Holly Newton (12th) were the epitome of consistency across their events, with Lane winning the silver in the standing long jump.

Josh Roberts finished fifth overall and won bronze medals in the shot and standing triple jump while Joel Milner finished 13th to add valuable points to what turned out to be a close competition, with only four points separating Warwickshire and Birmingham.

For the U13 boys, Linden Williams (speed bounce), Harry McDonald (vertical jump) and Tom Weaver (shot) won gold medals.

Seb Hillard won bronze in the 4-lap race and James Verralls was just outside the medals in the 2-lap race.

Luca De Freitas Pires was unfortunately injured and couldn’t take his place in the team.

For the U13 girls, Maddie Linfoot won silver in the 6-lap race and also competed in the shot (5th) where she filled in for Lucia Cassidy, who couldn’t make it back from a tennis tournament in Kent in time to compete.

Maria Watkins and Lucy Lane.
Maria Watkins and Lucy Lane.

Both Antonia Leece (4-lap) and Caitlin Boyle finished 5th in the vertical jump.

The U11 event was a knock-out competition with no progression to a national final and the Warwickshire girls competition finished with the girls in second place behind Birmingham and the boys in third position behind Birmingham and a surprisingly strong performance from Shropshire.

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