Fraser Coast's best 18 sports moments of 2018

It was another huge year for local sport, and Fraser Coast Chronicle sports editor Matthew McInerney has relived - and ranked - the 18 biggest sports moments of 2018.

Let us know what you think of the list - what should be there, and in what order you'd put them - via email: sport@frasercoastchronicle.com.au.

18. Hervey Bay hosts Queensland's State of Origin stars

HERVEY Bay became the centre of the national rugby league universe when the Queensland Maroons came to town.

Thousands of people lined the streets - and stood in the autograph queue - for hours as Queensland stars Daly Cherry-Evans and Billy Slater, along with coach Kevin Walters, painted Seafront Oval maroon.

The Maroons fan day is annual event which takes Queensland's State of Origin team to a regional area before a game each season, and injects much-needed money into the local economy and its rugby league clubs.

It was the first of three major league events, as both Maryborough and Hervey Bay later hosted an Intrust Super Cup game each.

 

Maroons Fraser Coast Fan Day - Billy Slater was all smiles as he arrived on the Frasr Caost.
Maroons Fraser Coast Fan Day - Billy Slater was all smiles as he arrived on the Frasr Caost. Alistair Brightman

17. The relaunch of Wide Bay Rowing Club in Maryborough

ROWING has a long and storied history in the Heritage City, and for years the oars have remained still and locked in the shed.

A dedicated committee, and partnerships with local businesses and Maryborough State High School has led the rebirth of Wide Bay Rowing Club.

The club is still small and growing, but the return of their boats to the Mary River was a huge step forward for the sport.

Club members are keeping realistic in their view of growth, but for keen Fraser Coast rowers who prefer to row on the river rather than open ocean, the proud club is back and ready to paddle.

16. Greg "The Tarantula" Atzori spins his final web

HE HAS held several national titles during his mixed martial arts career, but it is due to his attitude outside the cage Greg Atzori has so much respect.

The Hervey Bay grappler fought his last fight at Southport Sharks, and while his quick loss to Ben Wall was not the fairytale finish for which so many had hoped, it marked the final chapter of his professional career in the cage.

Fighters heaped praise on the man dubbed the Tarantula (due to his reach and stance), who not only treats every opponent with respect and avoids trash talk, but has very strong firm views against excessive weight-cutting.

His influence won't end. He coaches locally, will compete in several grappling competitions this year and has already circled several triathlons and marathons to keep himself fit.

 

Greg Atzori prepares backstage ahead of his final MMA bout at Eternal MMA 39 At Southport Sharks on Saturday, November 24.
Greg Atzori prepares backstage ahead of his final MMA bout at Eternal MMA 39 At Southport Sharks on Saturday, November 24. Matthew McInerney

15. Our Premier League club, the Buccaneers, is launched

THE results may not have been there for the seniors but the launch of the Wide Bay Buccaneers is an enormous step forward for local football.

Nothing can hide the fact our region is a black hole of elite sport. The Fraser Coast, and by extension Wide Bay, is one of the only regions in Queensland to lack state-level teams in most sports.

Netball's Thundercats and the Buccaneers were all that remained in 2018, and those two sports - our most popular by participation - will continue to fly the flag at state level.

The Buccaneers enjoyed success in the under-13s and under-15s, reaching the finals in the latter, but all other grades struggled for any positive results.

The senior teams did not win a game last year, but their pain in the formative years will eventually allow for young players to access a pathway to the top.

For this team, and the pathway, to succeed, it needs support from the entire Wide Bay sporting community.

14. New clubs provide for huge softball comp

LEGAL issues threatened its start but Hervey Bay Softball's first Intercity Softball season provided the blueprint for how regional sports competitions should be run.

Three clubs based in Bundaberg - Waves, Bargara and Brothers United - chose to affiliate with Hervey Bay Softball ahead of the 2017-18 season, producing the first fully-fledged cross-town softball competition in years.

Terrors, Misfits and Goolas faced their Bundaberg-based counterparts from junior to seniors divisions in that season, and plans to add Maryborough Softball Association clubs are still a work in progress.

They were to join this season, but Aztecs, Sparx and Incas are playing their own competition at least for now.

The ideal model could be similar to football, Aussie rules and league, which include teams from Hervey Bay, Maryborough and Bundaberg - and a greater variety of opposition.

13. Success shared across Hervey Bay netball clubs

IT WAS a big year for netball, but nothing showed the city's growing strength more than representation on grand final day.

Every club fielded at least one team across Hervey Bay Netball Association's nine divisions on grand final day, which was capped by the Division 1 triumph of an enthusiastic and young Bullets Boscia against Breakaways Titans.

The debut of Netball Queensland's Premier League allowed senior netball players the chance to represent Hervey Bay and Maryborough against teams from Bundaberg and the Sunshine Coast, and the Wide Bay Thundercats bowed out of the Queensland State Netball League.

NQ's newly-launched Ruby and Sapphire Leagues will provide a new pathway to Suncorp Super Netball and the Australian Diamonds, while talented coaches like Hervey Bay's Kerrianne Farrelly and Maryborough's Tracey Riley, who coached Brothers to the Bundaberg Netball's Division 1 title, will guide the players.

 

Div 1 premiers Bullets Boscia. Bullets Boscia v Breakaway Titans in the Hervey Bay Netball Association Division 1 Grand Final.
Div 1 premiers Bullets Boscia. Bullets Boscia v Breakaway Titans in the Hervey Bay Netball Association Division 1 Grand Final. Matthew McInerney

12. Young stars turn heads at state athletics titles

THE region's longest stretch of tartan track may lead to the long jump pit and we may be some way from Brisbane's top-class facilities but Fraser Coast is home to some of the state's best up-and-coming athletes.

Multi-class athletes like Matthew Taylor, who set 10 state running records, and Vanessa Wilson, continue to improve, while Maryborough's Kellie Davies, who competes in the throwing events, is another who can match it with the best.

Hervey Bay's Jhairah Taylor made history when he became the first Wide Bay athlete to win the 100m-200m double at the Queensland School Sport Athletics Championships.

Taylor, Wilson, Davies and Taylor all competed at the Australian All Schools Championships in Cairns, and all four have the talent and ability to get there again.

With top-quality coaches and unmatched motivation and dedication among other junior athletes, they certainly won't be the last.

 

Star junior athlete Matthew Taylor, who has broken 10 state T20 records in athletics.
Star junior athlete Matthew Taylor, who has broken 10 state T20 records in athletics. Matthew McInerney

11. Hockey groups launch first Fraser Coast League

A LACK of teams could have produced the future format of local hockey competition.

Both Hervey Bay Hockey and Maryborough District Hockey Association's senior men's competitions had only three teams entered this year.

Rather than face each other repeatedly for months on end, the teams from each division agreed to face off in a mid-local season league that included all senior Fraser Coast teams.

For the first time since the Premier League, teams from Hervey Bay and Maryborough faced off in senior men's competition, and it was a success. It was so successful talks were underway for the women's teams to replicate the comp.

Granville won the first title, defeating rivals Wallaroos in the final, but expect the blue and white army to return even stronger this year.

Wallaroos won both men's and women's MDHA titles, Magpies produced both teams in the Hervey Bay Hockey decider and Brothers won the men's title.

 

Fraser Coast League: Granville v Wallaroos at Maryborough Hockey Fields.
Fraser Coast League: Granville v Wallaroos at Maryborough Hockey Fields. Matthew McInerney

10. Seagulls crash to long-time low, saved by QRL

HERVEY Bay's only rugby league club found itself on death's doorstep before the Queensland Rugby League saved the Seagulls.

The Seagulls won three straight Bundaberg Rugby League minor premierships from 2015 to 2017, but won just once in a shocking on-field slump. A mass player exodus and front office struggles, which included a massive, six-figure debt, left the club in crisis come December.

The QRL has stepped in, promising to satisfy local creditors and work with the club so the Seagulls can soar in future.

 

Hervey Bay's Tiko Hooper. Bundaberg Rugby League: Hervey Bay Seagulls v Wests Panthers at Stafford Park, Hervey Bay.
Hervey Bay's Tiko Hooper. Bundaberg Rugby League: Hervey Bay Seagulls v Wests Panthers at Stafford Park, Hervey Bay. Matthew McInerney

9. Region's best athletes honoured at awards debut

THE first Fraser Coast Sports Awards was so popular organisers had to find more tables just an hour before the inaugural event kicked off.

The Fraser Coast has lacked a showpiece event to honour its sporting stars, but this year that changed with this new event at the Brolga Theatre.

The best junior, senior, masters and multi-class athletes were rewarded for their efforts, and volunteers and coaches were praised and recognised, as the spotlight shone brightly on this dedicated and motivated part of the community.

Gun young swimmer Keith Ashcroft was named male athlete of the year while superb volleyball star Hannah Karrasch capped her final year at Aldridge State High School by winning the female athlete of the year award.

The event is destined to return this year so be sure to keep a close eye on your local sporting arena of choice.

 

2018 Fraser Coast Sports Awards - (L) Boxer Brittany Roll (Runner-up Female Sports Athlete of the Year) and volleyball player Hannah Karrasch (Female Sports Athlete of the Year).
2018 Fraser Coast Sports Awards - (L) Boxer Brittany Roll (Runner-up Female Sports Athlete of the Year) and volleyball player Hannah Karrasch (Female Sports Athlete of the Year). Alistair Brightman

8. AFL Wide Bay launches its first female competition

A SURGE in popularity started by the AFLW finally found its way to local footy fields, as AFL Wide Bay launched its first fully-fledged women's competition at the start of 2018.

It included six teams - at the time one more than the men's competition - and was played during the men's pre-season to avoid it being overshadowed by the more established competition, as well as attract athletes from other sports.

Hervey Bay Bombers won the inaugural flag on home soil, going through undefeated, while Bay power showed immense improvement.

 

The Bombers celebrate. AFL Wide Bay Women's Grand Final: Hervey Bay Bombers v The Waves at Norm McLean Oval.
The Bombers celebrate. AFL Wide Bay Women's Grand Final: Hervey Bay Bombers v The Waves at Norm McLean Oval. Matthew McInerney

7. History-making Hervey Bay 100 gets even bigger

THERE are now more ways to "Suffer in Paradise" after an historic Beach House Hotel Hervey Bay 100.

The annual 100km triathlon already attracts hundreds of multisport athletes from across the state and country, while the addition of the Barge2Beach ocean swim in 2017 has provided another element to the popular weekend.

This year saw the launch of the half-distance, Hervey Bay 50, as well as a number of record-breaking performances.

The 2017 world long distance champion Sarah Crowley smashed the women's record by 15 minutes to finish in 3hrs 44min 38sec, while men's winner Simon Hearn produced the third-fastest men's time.

Hervey Bay triathlon legend Steven Schofield, who won the first Hervey Bay 100 in 2011, is now the only person to own the fastest time in three different age groups.

He added the 45-49yrs record to his already-owned 40-44yrs and 30-39yrs marks.

 

Hervey Bay 100 - Winner of the Hervey Bay 100 female division Sarah Crowley.
Hervey Bay 100 - Winner of the Hervey Bay 100 female division Sarah Crowley. Cody Fox

6. Aldridge cements place as volleyball powerhouse

A MARYBOROUGH school has one of the best volleyball programs in not just Queensland, but Australia, and Ald-ridge State High School proved it again.

The school has developed into a juggernaut for the popular indoor sport, and it proved it again with superb returns from some of the biggest competitions on the calendar.

The school's under-15s boys and girls teams both won state titles again, before the under-17s won its third straight Australian Volleyball Schools Cup in December.

Gun volleyball player Hannah Karrasch has spoken of her desire to pursue a college berth, Tom Roberts has accepted a scholarship in Brisbane, Paige Wieland captained her state and duo Anniston Chappell and Nick Bennetts toured south east Asia with a Queensland rep team - and that is just a taste of the athletes this school has developed.

 

Aldridge High volleyball players - (L) Tom Roberts, Dalton Morrison, Anniston Chappell, Declan Burns, Paige Wieland, Charlee Hopper, Travis Kerr and Nick Bennetts.
Aldridge High volleyball players - (L) Tom Roberts, Dalton Morrison, Anniston Chappell, Declan Burns, Paige Wieland, Charlee Hopper, Travis Kerr and Nick Bennetts. Alistair Brightman

5. Fraser Coast Sports Precinct nears completion

THE multi-million dollar development which will lead to even greater opportunity for sport-loving locals is so close to its official opening you can smell the Deep Heat.

The Fraser Coast Sport Precinct is a divisive development among local residents, but the new netball courts and football fields present an awesome opportunity for our athletes.

Hervey Bay Netball players will have true ownership over its courts, with more courts and better lighting allowing for more flexibility in its schedule, while the high-quality football fields will give World Game aficionados an even better surface on which they can hone their skills.

The venue will open in the next few months, but the significant steps taken in its development during 2018 - and the opportunity it provides Hervey Bay athletes in the long term - warrants its inclusion.

 

The two main football fields and netball courts at the Fraser Coast Sport Precinct, from the air on October 18, 2018.
The two main football fields and netball courts at the Fraser Coast Sport Precinct, from the air on October 18, 2018. Matthew McInerney

4. Wide Bay, Brisbane Roar, signs historic deal

IT WAS touted as the most significant deal in the history of football in the Wide Bay.

The finalisation and signing of Football Queensland Wide Bay's co-operative agreement with A-League club Brisbane Roar was one of a string of major football developments.

Maryborough State High School became the first regionally-based School of Football, which will mean the Roar hosting training and development courses with with students at the college and the club's training centre in Brisbane.

Both deals, open to junior football players from across the Wide Bay, will allow for greater access to top coaching for our young stars and an even better chance to succeed at the highest possible level.

 

FOOTY SCHOOL: Brisbane Roar academy director Drew Sherman, Wide Bay Buccaneers U13 player Jhairah Taylor and Roar managing director David Pourre. Maryborough State High School signed a three year deal with the A League club to establish a School of Football in the region.
FOOTY SCHOOL: Brisbane Roar academy director Drew Sherman, Wide Bay Buccaneers U13 player Jhairah Taylor and Roar managing director David Pourre. Maryborough State High School signed a three year deal with the A League club to establish a School of Football in the region. Blake Antrobus

3. Maryborough Speedway celebrates 60 years

A DINNER, fireworks, historic vehicle displays, the last chapter in the Wingless Sprintcars' Easter trail and a huge Queensland title showdown marked the Heritage City venue's 60th anniversary at Easter.

The major milestone year was a huge one for Maryborough Speedway, with 13 major events which included an array of state and national title races.

Add to that the club's growing number of junior drivers, the development and revival of the Burra Burnouts and the explosion of talented karts drivers, and Maryborough Speedway may have just celebrated its storied history with one of its biggest years.

The new season is well in swing, and spectator attendance and the quality of entries - this week's national junior sedans title is one of the biggest in its history - show the club is not slowing down.

 

Maryborough Speedway 60th Anniversary Race Meeting, Vintage Demonstration.
Maryborough Speedway 60th Anniversary Race Meeting, Vintage Demonstration. Valerie Horton

2. Golden debuts at the Commonwealth Games for trio

FOUR Fraser Coast exports entered the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games, three on debut, and all four returned with a gold medal.

The Gold Coast Games welcomed some of the world's premier athletes, but the Fraser Coast's attention was squarely on three sports: triathlon, cycling and hockey.

Former world champion Jordan Kerby struck gold first in the men's team pursuit, before Matt Hauser captured the triathlon world's attention with a fourth in the individual event and gold in the mixed relay.

Maryborough export Grace O'Hanlon and former Kookaburras star Mark Hager combined for our Trans Tasman rivals in the hockey.

O'Hanlon provided the Black Sticks' Games highlight by pulling off vital saves in the semi finals, before the Hager-coached team won the country's first hockey gold.

 

Commonwealth Games gold medal winning triathlete Matt Hauser has just returned to training following a collision with a car a few months ago whilst on a training ride. Picture: Jerad Williams
Commonwealth Games gold medal winning triathlete Matt Hauser has just returned to training following a collision with a car a few months ago whilst on a training ride. Picture: Jerad Williams Jerad Williams

1. Hervey Bay hosts World A-Catamaran championships

YEARS of preparation was finally put into practice as Hervey Bay welcomed the world's best A-Class Catamaran sailors for two titles in November.

America's Cup-winning skipper Glenn Ashby and Australian sailing icon and former Olympic medallist Andrew Landenberger dominated the Australian and World A-Class Catamaran Championships.

Ashby claimed his 10th world title in the opens division while Landenberger won the first classics division's first world championships.

The dual triumph came just a week after both men won their respective classes' Australian titles.

The event put a global spotlight on Hervey Bay, and despite bad weather's interruption of a few days it proved why the Fraser Coast should be a regular stop for world sailing titles across many more classes.

 

CLOCKWISE FROM FAR LEFT: Sarah Crowley sets a new record at the Hervey Bay 100, Billy Slater at the Fraser Coast Maroons Fan Day, Bullets celebrate its Hervey Bay Netball Div 1 title, sailor Andrew Landenberger at the start of a world title race, the Bombers win the AFL Wide Bay Women's flag, Granville wins the Fraser Coast League title, Greg Atzori before his last fight, and Brittany Roll and Hannah Karrasch at the Fraser Coast Sports Awards.
CLOCKWISE FROM FAR LEFT: Sarah Crowley sets a new record at the Hervey Bay 100, Billy Slater at the Fraser Coast Maroons Fan Day, Bullets celebrate its Hervey Bay Netball Div 1 title, sailor Andrew Landenberger at the start of a world title race, the Bombers win the AFL Wide Bay Women's flag, Granville wins the Fraser Coast League title, Greg Atzori before his last fight, and Brittany Roll and Hannah Karrasch at the Fraser Coast Sports Awards. Alistair Brightman

The moments that just missed the cut

WHEN ranking just 18 moments for 2018, there were definitely a few events that didn't quite make the cut.

Here's five from of the extensive list.

The launch of Hervey Bay's own Triple Crown ocean swim series.

The launch of the Central Queensland Basketball League, which led to Maryborough's senior rep team's return.

Fraser Coast's under-15 girls hockey team wins the state title on home soil.

The launch of our first youth girls football league.

Maryborough earns hosting rights of junior league grand finals for the first time.



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