Day 4 – State Champions Week
High-level sport is always about performance. Sometimes it’s as much about emotion.
Day 4 of State Champions Week was such a day.
It was about a heavily pregnant mum-to-be becoming a State champion.
About one of the world’s best bowlers realising – at his own State titles – the reward you get for hard work and what your family means and breaking down in tears once he realised it.
About one of the nicest people in Victorian bowls becoming a triple State champion.
And about the host club – including probably the busiest man at State Champions Week so far – winning their own State Championship.
Let’s start with Lilydale Bowling Club’s Jess Wallace. For her, it’s been a huge month which is about to get bigger and busier.
Jess is 33 weeks pregnant with her first child. With husband Tim and an excited cheer squad watching on, she took on dual world champion and defending State champion Carla Krizanic in the women’s Champion of Champions singles final at Bendigo East Bowling Club.
For much of the match, she trailed the current Australian No.1. Jess fought her way back into the contest, and eventually tied things up at 18-all. Then Carla put her nose in front and led 22-20.
Krizanic’s ability to close out close contests is near legendary. But Wallace kept finding, eventually running out a 25-23 winner.
As Jess Cuffe, she was one of the State’s most promising Under 18s, and the victory caps off a great month in which her club Lilydale won their Saturday Metropolitan Pennant final and promotion to Taylor Bowls Premier Division.
Elsewhere on Day 4, Wodonga bowler Kylie Whitehead wrapped up her third 2017 gold medal of State Champions Week, and Australian representative Barrie Lester his second.
Whitehead, who won the women’s State Singles title earlier in the tournament. was part of the Ovens & Murray outfit (Claire Sanders, Shirley Hummel and skip Anne Miles) which beat the Sandra McColgan-skipped Peninsula Casey 18-14 in the women’s fours final.
Then she followed that up with a big 25-11 win over Tiffany Brodie to win the State Under 25 women’s singles title – reversing the result from the Under 25 final last year. Carrying a huge cheer squad with her around the green – spearheaded by her grandmother and Ovens & Murray teammates, indigenous bowler Whitehead’s victories have been among the most popular you’d see anywhere.
“Couldn’t happen to a nicer person – one of the nicest people you’ll meet,” was the comment by pretty much everyone who’s had anything to do with Whitehead, as news of her third victory spread around Bendigo East.
Lester added the men’s State Singles title to his Champion of Champions singles title won earlier in the tournament. He defeated Brett Mahoney (Webbcona) 25-17 in the final, continuing an extraordinary four days of play from the world championship silver medallist.
At times, Lester has produced a clinic on the Bendigo East greens such has been the quality and consistency of his play.
And the emotion of winning two State titles in 2017 was on show for a big crowd to see as he went down on bended knee near tears following his win over Mahoney, then broke down on wife Miranda’s shoulder immediately post-match.
Lester’s winning speech was also a most gracious one – paying special tribute to the support from his club Mulgrave Country Club. “It’s such a special club,” Lester said, voice trailing off and high on emotion.
In the other final of the day, host club Bendigo East scored a popular win in the men’s fours final to become State champions for the second time in three years.
The Beasties (Darren Burgess, Gary Ryan, Chris Randell and skip Aaron Tomkins) worked their home green too well for the Ian Brimblecombe-skipped Ovens & Murray, winning by a single shot.
The Ovens & Murray team picked up three on the final end, but it wasn’t enough to get them home.
For Tomkins, it was a remarkable triumph as he is also the Bendigo East BC greenkeeper. He worked double-overtime on Day 2 of the tournament ahead of his round of 16 match, mopping up the greens flooded by torrential rain and getting them ready for play.
Both fours teams, Wallace and Lester will represent Victoria in the national championships to be held later this year at Club Sapphire, Merimbula, NSW.
Results, men’s State Singles
Results, women’s Champion of Champion Singles
Results, men’s fours
Results, women’s fours
Fixtures, mixed pairs
Results, mixed pairs