|Four Wimmera hockey players spent last week in Melbourne participating in the Junior State Championships, which is the pinnacle underage hockey competition in Victoria and involves teams representing four country and six metropolitan zones in both boys and girls divisions over three age groups.
The Wimmera Hockey Association falls within the North West Lightning’s zone, but there is also the opportunity for players who do not gain selection in this team to be available to represent other zones if a vacancy exists.
Kai Dodson was selected as one of two goalkeepers in the Under 13 North West Lightning squad, and in the Under 18 age group Tom Roberts represented the Lightning, Cade Dodson played for the South West Eagles and Stuart Hallett, who has been training in Melbourne, joined the metropolitan Southern Sharks. All four play locally with the Horsham club.
Above (from left) - Cade Dodson, Tom Roberts, Stuart Hallett and (front) Dai Dodson.
Each team played seven games over four days, commencing with pool games and culminating with a final or playoff game to determine final placings.
The Under 13 North West Lightning team finished in a credible fourth place, after winning four of their first six games which qualified them for the play-off for third place, although they narrowly lost this game to the North East Country Knights by two goals.
Team mates at the Horsham Hurricanes, Stuart Hallett and Cade Dodson became opponents for their opening game of this tournament when the Metro Sharks and South West Eagles clashed. Dodson’s Eagles finished ahead with a two goals to one win.
The Eagles won a further two of their first six games, qualifying for the fifth place play-off game. They played out a three-all draw in this encounter with the Central Metro Flames who claiming fifth place courtesy of a better record earlier in the tournament.
The Metro Sharks only victory for the week came in their play-off game for ninth and tenth places where they defeated the Gippsland Bulls by six goals.
Tom Roberts’ Lightning team finished the competition as the eighth ranked team after they lost the seventh place play-off to the North East Country Knights by three goals to one.
Roberts played in all seven games, and converted a penalty corner in their six goal win over the Gippsland Bulls to finish the tournament with one goal.
One of the Wimmera’s leading umpires, Caleb Baldock from Dimboola, officiated in a number of games over the week, and Hallett also took up the opportunity to umpire around his playing commitments, both gaining valuable experience at a higher level and receiving feedback from more senior umpires.