SOUTHAMPTON AC’s Southern Athletics League team propelled themselves up the Division One table with an unexpected win at Chelmsford on Saturday.

Pitched against three higher-placed teams, this encounter was potentially the toughest of the summer due to a clash with the English Schools’ Championships and athletes resting ahead of British League and UK Women's fixtures.

However, consistency, commitment and class won through despite a few gaps on the team sheet.

Sam Bass-Cooper won the pole vault by a massive margin with 4.60 metres and rising U17 star Dan Hoiles made it a one-two with a 3.40 B clearance. Laura Edwards dominated the female vault, soaring over 3.60m.

Fit-again Sarah Ellis won the A javelin (41.90) and former international sprint hurdler Katie Odell took a break from coaching to head the B (29.53).

Southampton's women carried almost all before them in the heavy throws.

Sophie Merritt was a massive six metres clear when heaving a shot put personal best (pb) of 14.59 and made it a double in the discus with 43.42.

Making her senior debut, U17 Emma Hunter was an equally clear B winner (30.80), and later came second in the B 100m (13.4 seconds).

The male throwers found life tougher, but Southampton’s cause was boosted by a classy discus win by former international Chris Scott (53.19).

U17 Max Satterley achieved thirds in the 400m hurdles, 800m and 3000m steeplechase on his debut.

European Junior cross-country bronze medallist Mahamed Mahamed continued his comeback from injury with a blistering finish to win the A 1500m, while SAL debutant Ollie Smith provided strong back-up with B second.

Emily Jenkinson wrapped up an encouraging 400/800m double after an illness-ravaged 2016. She romped away with the A 800m (2.16.5), ground out a close 400m victory (59.4) and returned some 25 minutes later to finish B 200m runner-up.

To cap an outstanding day's work, Jenkinson ran a storming second leg in the sprint relay and anchored the 4x400m team to victory.

Georgina Russell, also back from illness, hit form with a 2.19.8 B 800m win.

Ellie Monks won the 5000m by a whopping 59 seconds and B stringer Claire McEarlean was equally dominant, (19.31.4).

Emma Froome was a class apart in the sprints, winning the A 100m (12.8 pb) and the 200m by a full second in 26.3.

Dan Offiah led the men’s A 100m (10.9 pb), while stablemate Ryan Coles cruised the B race (11.2). The pair then completed a 200m double, both in 23.0, and - along with Sam Jones and Sean Foord - led the 4x100m relay from start to finish.

Hunter, Jenkinson, Froome and anchor Sophie Feist won the women's sprint relay by two seconds, leaving the victorious 4x400m team of Russell, Rachel Ayerst, Sarah Kingston and Jenkinson to set the seal on a very satisfactory day.

After leapfrogging Chelmsford, Colchester and Bedford in the overall standings, the red and white army host the final fixture at Southampton Sports Centre on August 19.

*SOUTHAMPTON AC’s British Athletics League team head to Bedford on Saturday (July 15) for the 'BAL Big Saturday'.

The competition is a new concept with all divisions of the BAL competing at the same match - albeit against clubs in their own division. There will be 38 teams on show.

Aside from Southampton, fighting to maintain their place in the Premiership, local rivals Basingstoke & Mid Hants are seeking to avoid the drop to Division 2 after a poor start in the first two matches and City of Portsmouth are enjoying a solid season in Division 4.

“Southampton are by no means out of their depth, but our true strength at the moment is probably Division 1 and a half,” admitted team manager Gary MacDonald-Gray.

“At full strength we are a match for anyone, especially on the track, but a few key gaps, especially in the throws and jumps, can cost us dearly.

“Whatever the result on Saturday and ultimately whether, after the last match on August 20, we have to settle for Division 1 competition in 2018, the team are getting stronger all the time and I'm very confident that we'll bounce straight back up.”