Two Wimmera teenagers represented the region at last week’s Victorian Junior State Championships in Melbourne.
Horsham Hurricanes player Tom Roberts and Sandon Schultz of the Warrack Hoops competed in the under 17 boys division, representing the North West Lightning zone, taking in players from Bendigo to Horsham and north to Mildura.
Roberts, given the honour of captaining the team, played in defence while Schultz spent his time on the forward line. Both played in all six of the team’s games.
Teams from six metropolitan and four regional zones fielded teams in boys and girls divisions for under 13, 15 and 17 age groups. In the under 17 Boys division, the Lightning was drawn to play in Pool A against the Central Metro Flames, Eastern Metro Hotshots and Southern Metro Sharks.
In their opening game, the Sharks started strongly with two goals in the first five minutes, before the Lightning regrouped with a field goal at the 14-minute mark and a converted short corner in the dying minutes of the first half to have the teams even at the break. In a more composed second half, three goals went to the Lightning while keeping the Sharks scoreless, securing a 5-2 victory to open the tournament.
In the next game, two early goals put the Lightning ahead, but by half-time the Flames had replied twice to even the scores. A goal to each team in the second half meant the game ended as 3-3 draw.
The final first round game was a 2-2 draw against the Hotshots. The Lightning finished in second place and progressed to Pool C, which included the top two teams from both preliminary pools and provided the opportunity to play for a place in the final.
The team experienced its first loss when it went down by two goals to the Red Devils. After a scoreless first half in the final pool game against the Wildcats, Sandon Schultz opened the scoring for the Lightning with the first of his team’s three goals to get the win.
With the other game between Red Devils and Flames ending in a draw, the Lightning were relegated to third place and a match-up with the Wildcats for the bronze medal. The playoff game was a close encounter, with the lead changing several times before the Wildcats finished with three goals to two, leaving the Lightning in fourth place as the highest-ranked country team in the under 17 boys division.
The Wimmera Hockey Association competition will resume after a week off.