Talent abounds at Junior State Championships 2022
By Peter Rookas
The first of the finals for this year’s Bowls Queensland Junior State Championships being conducted in Toowoomba were played today (Tuesday 18/1/22) in superb summer weather at North Toowoomba bowls greens.
After a very successful start to the carnival on Sunday (16/1/22), it was down to the business of winning medals for the record 83 junior bowlers who have journeyed the length & breadth of Queensland to the Darling Downs for the third successive year. From Weipa in the far north to Broadbeach & the Tweed, young bowlers and their support ‘crew’ (families) have converged on Toowoomba for a week of championship bowls.
The day got underway in very humid conditions, under laden skies & a gentle breeze from the North East. A somewhat heavy morning dew made the green a little slower, even after a cut & roll. The Under 15 Open 3-Bowl Pairs finals took centre stage to start the day’s proceedings, alongside the semi-finals of the Under 18 Open 3-Bowl Pairs.
The Under 15 Gold Medal match between the Brehmer brothers Thomas & Trent, of the Algester Club in Brisbane, and the Pialba pairing Bryce Jarrett & Brody Carter, lived up to all of the pre-game hype and was a ‘cracker’ of a match. The Brehmer siblings jumped out of the blocks quickly, adjusting to the slightly slower greens, to shoot to a 4 – 0 lead before being reeled back in to 4-all and then trail 5 – 4. The Algester connection hit back quicky to lead 10 – 5 and looked to be cruising but some deadly bowls from Brody Carter locked the scores up again at 10 – all. It was then shot for shot to 13-all before the Brehmer’s looked to have snatched the Gold medal with a 15 – 13 lead on the last end and holding shot. It was down to the last bowl and Carter again rose to the occasion to push the shot off kitty, hold his ground and claim a second shot to tie the match up at 15 – all.
The Brehmer’s won the crucial toss for the mat & sent the kitty long. Thomas put in three very good lead bowls but Carter was not to be denied and edged in close to ensure a measure for the shot. Trent Brehmer then played the shot of the match, trailing the kitty close to the ditch and despite Carter’s valiant attempt, the Brehmer brothers secured the Under 15 Open Pairs Gold medal, much to the delight of the big crowd in attendance.
The play-off for the Under 15 Open Pairs Bronze medal was nearly all one-way traffic. Sunshine Coast Kawana siblings Lacey & Riley Gerick were never headed by Nash Godfrey & Rhys Gillman and ran out comfortable winners 25 – 8.
Meanwhile, it was ‘game on’ with the Under 18 Open Pairs semi-finals and again, the standard of bowls was sublime to say the least. In a ‘nip & tuck’ affair, the all-girl pairing of Olivia Rothwell & Caysee Wilson were always going to be hard to beat, with Rothwell the defending Queensland Under 18 Singles champion. But up against the girls was the Ty Jesberg/Lachlan Moore combination, with Jesberg the defending Under 18 Boys Singles champion. As expected, there was never more than a shot or two in the contest and the girls held their nerve to edge out the boys 18 – 15 over the 18 ends. The other semi-final saw the favoured Oliver Corken & Cody Gerick combination prove more than a handful for Jack Chirgwin and Todd Brain and the former cruised to a 19 – 11 victory.
So, the stage was set for a ‘shoot-out’ with Queensland’s best Under 18 boys and girls to do battle in the Gold medal match. Oliver & Cody were quick to pounce on the first end for 3-shots and an early lead, but the girls were unfazed and hit back with 2-shots on the next end. It then went shot for shot before Olivia & Caysee edged ahead 9 – 7. This seemed to fire the boys up and a change of tactics to long ends saw Oliver & Cody hit back for two consecutive 3-shot ends, to put them 13 – 9 up after 12 ends and now the pressure was on the girls. A mistake by Corken with a ditched kitty on the 13th end opened the door for Rothwell & Wilson to play a short end. They held shot until Gerick played a superb last bowl draw and the moment was gone.
Despite pressing hard to reduce the margin, the girls had the wind taken out of them on end 16 when Cody played two precision bowls for 2-shots and a 17 – 11 lead. On a never-say-die final end, Cody Gerick again displayed why he is one of the best juniors in Queensland and played a superb draw to hold 3 shots after good lead-up bowls by Corken. A Wilson drive reduced the final end to 2-shots, but it was a Gold-medal winning score of 19 – 11 to the boys.
The Bronze Medal Under 18 Pairs match was in the balance until late in the contest when Todd Brain & Jack Chirgwin claimed a rare 5-shots and closed out the contest against Ty Jesberg and Lachlan Moore, winning 20 – 10.
The last medal matches of the day were for the Open Fours Junior Championship. The Gold Medal match was billed as an ‘All Star’ final with siblings Lacey, Riley and Cody Gerick teaming up with Travis Pearce on one side while Sophie Allan, Jonty Millard, Oliver Corken and Hayden Oster completed the opposition. Cody Gerick proved the perfect skip and capitalised on some good team play to open up a handy 13 – 3 lead. Opposition Skip Hayden Oster was doing everything in his power to keep his team in the match but to no avail. His team’s bowls were going agonisingly close over the final ends and even he couldn’t ‘pull a rabbit out of the hat’ with some of his superb play. The final score of 22 – 7 to the Gericks’/Pearce combination belied the closeness of the match however Pearce was a stand-out in the match, with sublime touch and superb weight control.
The Bronze medal Under 18 Fours clash was a contrast, with a nail-biting finish down to the last end. Cooper Sutton, Sam Collier, Dakota Brindle & Wyatt Martin looked to have the match sewn up until a late surge by Charlie Mens, Zac Flood, Jack Chirgwin and Todd Brain tied the contest up at 17-all, after a big 4-shot result on the 15th end. Martin’s team remained calm and came up with their own 4-shot result on the very next end before Brain and his team made them sweat, closing to within two shots and a final score line of 21 – 19.
It was a fitting end to a great day of bowls which served to emphasise just how high the standard of junior bowls is in Queensland and Australia.