Local Clubs in the Hunt for Success

The NSW Surf Life Saving Age Championships supported by ClubsNSW and staged at Umina and Ocean beaches on the Central Coast over the weekend produced another batch of team and individual state champions, and Hunter athletes took their fair share of the accolades.

Autumn came early to the nipper’s carnival that drew 3,500 competitors from 80 clubs along the eastern seaboard from as far north as the NSW/QLD border to Pambula in the south.

Showers over the three-day competition days made conditions hard-going for athletes and families and cut the day one program short. By Sunday’s finals the best was on offer after the traditional morning March Past; dry and mild conditions coupled with a light onshore breeze.

Heats interspersed with gold medal flag finals ran through to Saturday afternoon when the relay and individual sprint finals drew a large crowd to Ocean Beach’s sand track. On Sunday attention turned to the water for the surf and board events and the carnival highpoint, the Under 14 ironman and woman events.

On the sand Swansea-Belmont’s Sophie Hibberd was a gold medallist in the Under 10 girls sprint event while among the Under 9 boys her clubmates, twins Mitch and Jake Morris, were the young superstars of the water competition.

The double act often goes head-to-head in the same event and this pushes both of them to outdo the other.

“We train with each other and we always try to beat each other,” admitted Mitch. The boys, Year 4 students at Caves Beach Public School, put in three sessions a week in the build up to the state title and worked hard on strength and technique.

Their return on investment was a fair haul of gold and silver medals, the start of a promising surf career. Mitchell took out the surf race and Jake the board race. They each collected gold in the board relay with Blake Cook, and a silver in the surf team event with Cook and Black Gribble.

The twin’s heroes are professional ironmen and brothers Shannon and Caine Eckstein. Swansea-Belmont’s Under 12 boys swim team of Clay Murphy, Cruz Kingston, Zach Morris and Josh Murphy added another gold to Hunter’s tally.

“Last year the boys’ event was washed out,” said Adam Murphy, Josh’s dad and age manager. “In reality these boys have been waiting two years for this win and to finally achieve that is a pretty special moment.”

Zach Morris also won the blue ribbon Under 12 ironman event from a strong field on the last day of the season’s competition closer.

Catherine Hill Bay SLSC’s Kyle Lehmann out-classed his under 12 opponents in the board event, making him a three time NSW champion.

“This is the end of such a good year for me after winning branch, Manly, Wanda and the Catho Challenge. To top it all off with a NSW gold feels great,” acknowledged Lehmann.

Mum, dad and older brother Jye were all there to support him.

“Kyle’s always looked up to Jye and trained so hard to be like his brother. To see him win like this at the State Champs just makes me the proudest mum.”

Swansea Belmont was the best performing Hunter branch club, coming fifth in the overall pointscore for the event.

Starting next Friday Umina and Ocean beaches will again fill with tents and the sound of starting guns and cheering when the Central Coast hosts the third of four consecutive championship weekends, the NSW Open state title, March 7-9, 2014.

Top 10 Overall Point Score:

1.) Manly LSC - 291
2.) Avoca Beach SLSC - 248
3.) Wanda SLSC Inc - 162
4.) Elouera SLSC - 152.5
5.) Swansea Belmont SLSC - 143
6.) Bronte SLSC - 135
7.) North Cronulla SLSC - 120
8.) South Maroubra SLSC - 101.5
9.) Coogee SLSC - 84.5
10.) Terrigal SLSC - 83

For full results please visit the 2014 Age Championships event page and for photos please visit our Flickr or follow us on Facebook

Tue 4 Mar 2014