Junior State Championships Singles day
By Peter Rookas
After 5 days of superb junior bowls action in the 2022 Bowls Queensland Junior Championships, it all came down to the final day (Friday 21 January) and the staging of the ‘Blue Ribbon’ events; the medal finals in Singles for Under 15 Boys & Girls and Under 18 Boys & Girls.
The day’s play got underway at 8.30am with the Under 15 Girls Gold medal match and the Under 18 Girls Gold/Silver and Bronze medal contest.
The Under 15 Girls Bronze medal was decided on Thursday, when Kawana’s Lacey Gerick proved too strong for Roma’s Mia Haylock, to claim her place in the Gold/Silver final against Gympie’s Tilah Mason.
At 12-years of age, Gerick was always going to find the task daunting. Mason skipped away to an early 8 – 2 lead and extended that lead to 14 – 2 before Gerick settled the nerves and began her fight back. Slowly the gap narrowed but Mason’s start was too much to overcome for young Lacey; the final score line 21 – 13 and a very deserved win to Tilah Mason.
The Under 18 matches were a contrast with Zayah Morgan of Capalaba always in control on the Bronze medal match against Sophie Kiepe. Morgan jumped out of the blocks quickly to establish a commanding 13 shot lead before closing out the match 21 – 7.
Meanwhile, just two rinks away, Chloe Runge (Glasshouse) and Hannah Ogden (Burnett) were locked in an enthralling battle for Gold & Silver. Chloe pounced early for a 4 shot lead before Hannah clawed her way back to level at 6-all. Then it was shot-for-shot until Hannah got a ‘mini break’ of 15 – 12 and then 18 – 15. Runge was not going to be denied and drew level at 18 – all and then held three shots for game & had one hand on the Gold medal.
With her last bowl in hand, Ogden remained calm and played a superb forehand draw to finish just inside two of Runge’s shot bowls and reduce the score to one shot and 19 – 18 in favour of Runge. Another tight end followed which saw Ogden hang on for the shot and the scores were locked at 19 – all.
Ogden then held shot and in what seemed a cruel twist of fate for Runge, Ogden’s last bowl looked destined to be through the head but a fortunate collision with her own short bowl, rolled that bowl up to claim 2 shots and the Gold medal win 21 – 19. It was an enthralling match that could’ve gone either way and each girl was more than deserving of the Gold medal.
It was then time for the Under 15 and Under 18 Boys finals to take centre stage and they didn’t waste time in delivering a spectacular array of shot making. The Bronze medal matches went pretty much to script, with Pialba’s Brody Carter turning on an exhibition class to oust Riley Paterson of Glasshouse 21 – 3 in the Under 15 match. Carter had the ‘touch’ right from the opening end and never gave Paterson a chance to get settled. The Under 18 Bronze was a slightly closer affair between Sam Collier of Broadbeach and Kawana’s Cody Gerick. Collier took a solid 9 – 6 lead but then became a ‘spectator’ as Gerick’s ‘hot hand delivered an emphatic 21 – 11 victory.
The Under 18 Gold medal encounter saw defending champion Ty Jesberg, now a Tweed Osprey, take on Glasshouse ‘surprise packet’ Jack Chirgwin. While Jesberg was favoured to contest the final, Chirgwin left a trail of very good players in his wake to secure his place in ‘the big dance’. And he was on song early, setting up a ‘mini break’ of 10 – 6. This seemed to ‘fire up’ the defending champ and in the blink of an eye, Jesberg powered to 10 – all and then found another gear to career away to a 21 – 12 victory in his final year as a junior.
But it was the Boys Under 15 Gold medal final that was to capture the attention of the huge crowd that had stayed on to watch the Girls & Boys Singles finals. It was a case of ‘David & Goliath’ with the small in stature Ben Harrison of Paradise Point up against the lofty Riley Gerick from Kawana. And it was ‘David’ (Ben) that came out blazing, shooting to a 10 – 2 lead and then 13 – 8 before ‘Goliath’ (Riley) came to life and started to chip away at the lead. Very quickly scores were locked at 15-all before Harrison made another move to 17 – 15. Gerick again stepped up and it was 18-all. It was amazing bowls, with both players taking the kitty back on numerous occasions. Gerick secured the break-through to get to 20 – 18 and despite a last gasp shot by Harrison to get to 19, Gerick was resolute in closing out the match to claim the Gold medal.
Writers Footnote: This is the third consecutive year I’ve had the privilege of covering the Bowls Queensland Junior Championships for The Bowler (2020, ’21 and ’22) and from the very first day in 2020 to the last day in ’22, the standard has gone from strength to strength, and the ‘bar’ has been raised on every occasion. BQ is extremely fortunate to have such talented young people playing the game & they can be assured the games future is in good hands. Congratulations to the clubs and districts for encouraging these young people and coaching them in ‘the game for all ages’.
The following juniors (10 girls & 10 boys) have been invited to attend a training camp in April, when a Junior Squad will be announced to represent Queensland in the U18 QLD vs NSW Test Series (held in August). Congratulations to all!
Stella Palmer (Roma), Chloe Runge (Glasshouse Mountains), Dekota Brindle (Darra Cementco), Sophie Kiepe (Club Helensvale), Sophie Allan (Club Helensvale), Holly Anderson (Cunnamulla), Mia Haylock (Roma), Lacey Gerick (Club Kawana), Corinne Stallan (Cooktown) & Keira Powell (Tweed Heads).
Kane Nelson (Belmont Services), Cody Gerick (Club Kawana), Travis Pearce (Kenilworth), Sam Collier (Broadbeach), Oliver Corken (Thuringowa City), Hayden Oster (Kandanga), Jack Chirgwin (Glasshouse Country), Todd Brain (Cunnamulla), Wyatt Martin (Gayndah) & Corey Marshall (Club Helensvale).