The best moments of 2013.
The best moments of 2013.

The best moments of a fantastic year in local sport

JANUARY

Former Hervey Bay junior cricketer Nathan Hauritz played a leading role in Brisbane Heat's memorable victory over Perth Scorchers in the Big Bash League grand final. Despite not taking a wicket, the off-spinner had a huge impact on the result with his tight bowling and three stunning catches.

January started with a bang, but ended in despair as floodwater tore through Maryborough, leaving many clubs in ruins. Bowls, golf, rugby league and swimming were among the sports to have facilities inundated.

Other highlights:

SAILING: About 60 boats set sail at Hervey Bay for the 34th Nacra National Championships. TRIATHLON: Up-and-coming star Christian Wilson continued his long return from a serious hamstring injury to claim a silver medal in the triathlon mixed relay at the Australian Youth Olympic Festival in Sydney. Maryborough's Kate Law realised her dream of representing her country at the same event in golf.

RUGBY LEAGUE: Maryborough Brothers announced it would be competing in the Bundaberg Rugby League competition for the first time, nominating for reserve grade.

FEBRUARY

SPORTING clubs impacted by the flood moved swiftly into recovery mode as bands of volunteers rolled up their sleeves to lend a hand. Among them were players, officials and coaches from various clubs, who showed their support by filling sandbags, removing rubbish and raising money. The community spirit was also alive and well in Bundaberg - considered the worst-hit in the Queensland flood crisis of 2013 - where Australian rules players from the Fraser Coast made the trip up to help with the massive recovery efforts.

February 7 was known as Australia's "darkest day in sport" after the Crime Commission revealed there had been widespread use of banned drugs by multiple athletes across a number of sports in its report. Two weeks after the doping allegations, retired NRL legend Petero Civoniceva said a ground-up approach was needed to effectively eradicate drugs in sport during his visit to the Fraser Coast. Civoniceva said the focus on the issue highlighted the need for more education about drugs and supplements at a grassroots level before the problem started to filter down to regional competitions.

Other highlights:

HOCKEY: Hervey Bay youngster Lauren Scholl flew out of Australia to begin her tour of New Zealand and Argentine with the Australian schoolgirls' hockey team.

SOFTBALL: Promising Hervey Bay softballer Josh Hartwig was named in a 30-man Australian U19 men's squad.

CRICKET: The Chronicle's team of scribes and sales staff smashed the council's 11 wise men in a charity cricket match under lights at Maryborough Cricket Club. The Chronicle took great pleasure in humiliating the councillors after being on the receiving end of some trash talk from Mayor Gerard O'Connell in the lead-up to the match. More importantly, the match raised $1000 for the McGrath Foundation.

MARCH

ONE of the major highlights of the year was the Queensland Junior Surf Life Saving Championships, with the young stars of the sand and surf sweating it out at Hervey Bay. Despite wild weather threatening to derail preparations, the three-day carnival went off without a hitch as more than 1300 of the state's best junior surf lifesavers took over Torquay beach.

Due to the success of the carnival, Hervey Bay Surf Life Saving Club is in negotiations with Surf Life Saving Queensland to bring the championships back to the Fraser Coast in the coming years.

Australian middleweight boxing champion Jarrod Fletcher was crowned Fraser Coast's Sports Star of the Decade as voted by Chronicle readers. Known as "Left Jab" by his fans, Fletcher, who was raised in Hervey Bay, tallied 32% of the votes to beat cyclists Jay McCarthy and Jordan Kerby and cricketers Beth Mooney and Nathan Hauritz.

Other highlights:

FOOTBALL: Fraser Coast's most talented junior footballers lined up for Wide Bay Revolution in the opening week of the inaugural National Premier League Queensland competition.

AUSSIE RULES: Maryborough Bears withdraws from AFL Wide Bay after their senior squad was decimated by player unavailability.

CRICKET: Cavaliers Gold pulled off the biggest upset of the season to defeat Past Grammars by eight runs in the Fraser Coast A-grade grand final.

APRIL

PARALYMPIC champion and amputee swimmer Brenden Hall had Pier to Pub Ocean Swim Classic onlookers in awe when he nearly outsprinted Jack Burnham to the finish line.

Neck-and-neck with Burnham coming out of the water, Hall, who had to run on sand with the aid of crutches, earned admiration for his trademark never-say-die attitude despite coming within a whisker of second place.

Maryborough swimmer Luke Scott finished less than a second ahead of his good friend Cameron Preval to become the first member of Fraser Coast Swim Club to win a medal at the Australian Age Swimming Championships. The 16-year-old touched the wall in a personal best time of 2min 04.36sec to finish third in the 16 years 200m butterfly final.

Other highlights:

TRIATHLON: Xavier Catholic College students Brooke Willis and Matt Hauser were crowned Australian champions after winning their respective races at the School Sport Australia Triathlon Championships.

FOOTBALL: The new Four Cities League kicked off in style with teams from Hervey Bay and Maryborough taking on the best Bundaberg and Gympie had to offer.

AUSSIE RULES: N.E McLean Oval hosted a historic double-header on Anzac Day with the Hervey Bay Bombers and Bay Power facing off for the first time on Australia's great national day.

MAY

HE WAS the last to enter, but Brad Kahlefeldt beat a field of more than 600 triathletes to win the Hervey Bay Triathlon. The two-time Olympian and 2006 Commonwealth Games gold medallist only made his mind up to race less than 24 hours before it started. Despite trailing at the final transition, the 33-year-old showed he was still one of the country's best performers over the Olympic-distance triathlon, using a blistering run leg to edge out last year's winner Joseph Lampe.

Seafront Oval was party central as some of the country's best beach volleyball players headed to Hervey Bay for the inaugural Fraser Coast Regional Beach Volleyball Invitational. Huge crowds flocked to see the likes of three-time Olympian Joshua Slack and glamour sisters Jordan and Justine Mowen serve up plenty of entertaining professional volleyball. But the day belonged to Townsville mums Natasha Chaplin and Rebecca Matheson, who celebrated Mother's Day with victory over the Mowen sisters in the women's grand final.

Other highlights:

NETBALL: Netball fever hit Hervey Bay as more than 700 people poured into Hervey Bay PCYC to watch Wide Bay Thundercats do battle in the Queensland State Netball League.

RUGBY LEAGUE: In one of the feel-good stories of the year, a bunch of rugby league juniors from the Maryborough Brothers club held a sports gala day for students at Hervey Bay Special School.

JUNE

WE FIRST found out about Tristan Prendergast, a former Doon Villa junior who was hand-picked by former AC Milan goalkeeper Zeljko Kalac to join A-league club Sydney FC on a Youth League contract. Later in the year the 18-year-old, who grew up in Maryborough, won the Best Goalkeeper Award at the U21 International Nien Thien Newspaper Cup in Vietnam.

Syenne Young was another youngster who realised her dream by becoming the youngest competitor to tame the Great Barrier Reef Ocean Challenge. Despite her fear of the open water, the 16-year-old helped Hervey Bay Outriggers' mixed open team claim silver place in the OC6 race.

Other highlights:

MOTORSPORT: The Fraser Coast Sprints were cancelled due to the "below acceptable standard" of the track at Maryborough Showgrounds.

RUGBY LEAGUE: The state's best under-12-year-old rugby league players converged on Hervey Bay's Stafford Park for the Queensland School Sport rugby league carnival.

JULY

THE new financial year saw plenty of local businesses cash in on the Junior State Cup attracting more than 3500 people to the region. This was the third year Hervey Bay hosted the popular touch football carnival, with a record-equalling 180 teams taking part in this year's event.

Wheelchair marathon champion and inspirational athlete Kurt Fearnley captivated everyone in the Brolga Theatre as he spoke about his remarkable life journey during the Chronicle Better Business Lunches. From crawling the Kokoda Trail to being a winning crew member of the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race, the three-time Paralympic gold medallist wowed and amazed the audience with his stories of courage and adventure.

Other highlights:

MOTOCROSS: Thousands of motocross-mad fans watched the flying Scotsman, Billy Mackenzie, take out Round 7 of the MX Nationals at Hervey Bay's Dundowran Park.

HOCKEY: Uniteds (women's) and Granville Tigers (men's) were crowned this year's Intercity Premier League champions after prevailing in tough grand finals.

AUGUST

IN AUGUST we discovered that not all great sporting achievements are attained by the young, fit and superiorly talented. Hervey Bay great grandmother Jean Simmons showed age was just a number by obtaining her blue belt aged 83 after passing a gruelling 75-minute grading. The blue belt capped off a remarkable turnaround for Jean, who was given only days to live after a bad fall six years ago caused massive pressure to the brain.

Monster truck madness hit Maryborough Speedway as a sellout crowd of more than 6200 speed fans packed the hills for some car-crushing fun. It was the first time in 55 years organisers were forced to shut the gate.

Other highlights:

GOLF: South Korean Jun Seok Lee scored three birdies on the back nine to secure the Maryborough Golf Club Pro-Am, while Hugh Dolan beat a strong field that contained Ossie Moore, Rodger Davis and Michael Harwood to win the Fraser Coast Legends Classic.

BMX: Five young riders from the Maryborough BMX Club travelled to Auckland for the UCI BMX World Championship. Harrison Browning, Alyssa Cherrie and Teya Rufus all gained world plates, which is given to the top eight riders in each age division.

SEPTEMBER

HERVEY Bay Bombers went back-to-back in the AFL Wide Bay competition after smashing Across The Waves by 79 points in the grand final. The victory was even sweeter for 45-year-old Dean Stanley, who ended his premiership drought after playing in 10 grand finals without tasting success. The scene of him pumping the air while hugging with his wife Linda after the full-time siren will be remembered as one of the greatest moments in league's history.

It was rugby league, but like you had never seen it before, as more than 200 spirited girls took to Hervey Bay's Stafford Park for the inaugural Queensland Primary School Girls Rugby League Championship. Fourteen teams, including four regional sides, battled it out over three days, with Wide Bay - which included nine Hervey Bay girls - falling one game short of a grand final berth. But the loss did little to take the shine off the tournament, with players getting a surprise visit from Australia Jillaroos player Jo Barrett, who brought along the women's World Cup trophy.

Other highlights:

ATHLETICS: 86-year-old Maryborough woman, Von Fischer, created history by becoming the first female athlete in the 85-89 years category to finish the 10km walk at the Gold Coast Marathon. She finished in just under one hour and 27 minutes.

HOCKEY: Uniteds made it a double, winning the Maryborough and District women's premiership to go with the Intercity Premier League title, while Granville Tigers made it 15 straight premierships with a 7-6 extra time victory over the Wallaroos. The Hervey Bay Hockey premierships went to the Fraser Flames, who upset Magpies to make it back-to-back grand final wins, while a Tracey Moore goal was enough to give the Magpies victory over the Fraser Flames in the women's decider.

OCTOBER

LARRY Sengstock, arguably the greatest sport star Maryborough has produced, returned home as a guest of honour at Maryborough Basketball's 50th anniversary. The four-time Olympian and former Basketball Australia chief executive spoke fondly of his childhood and growing up playing sport in Maryborough while speaking at the association's anniversary dinner.

Despite a dip in numbers, the Maryborough Masters Games was a success, with 400 athletes in eight sports taking part in this year's event. Football attracted the highest number of registrations, with about 200 players from 16 teams lacing up the boots for the three-day tournament.

Other highlights:

SWIMMING: Twelve years after opening its doors in Hervey Bay, Elders Swim Centre was voted AUSTSWIM's best swim centre in Australia.

CRICKET: 40-year-old Bushrangers medium paceman Jason Riley showed he's still got it, taking a career-best 8-17 in a devastating spell against Brothers in a Sugar Cities fixture.

SOFTBALL: Hervey Bay's softball diamonds had never shone as brightly as the state's most talented softballers contested the U19 men's state softball championship. Hervey Bay finished a disappointing sixth after making a promising start to the tournament.

NOVEMBER

THEY promised they would be back and they promised it would be bigger - they delivered on both counts. For the second straight year Hervey Bay hosted the final round of the Offshore Superboat Championships, with 25,000 fans believed to have flocked to the beach to catch a view of the powerful vessels as they roared past. With more activities, entertainment and advantage points to watch the action, the superboats have become more than just a sporting event, with plans already under way to make next year's event even bigger.

On the same day Gai Waterhouse became the first Australian female trainer to win the Melbourne Cup, Maryborough jockey Tamara Tincknell landed a major milestone of her own. On the first anniversary of her racing debut, the 25-year-old rode three winners at Mount Isa. It was not only the apprentice jockey's first victory on Melbourne Cup day, but her first treble on a race card.

Other highlights:

BOWLS: Hervey Bay bowlers Kiani Andersen and John Walker finished runner-up in their respective singles events at the State Champion of Champions.

TRIATHLON: Toowoomba amateur Daniel Macpherson wins the Hervey Bay 100, while Kym Jaenke backed up her age group triumph at the 70.3 World Championships by taking out the women's crown.

JET BOATS: Hervey Bay husband and wife team Brett and Linda Thornton were crowned the new Australian Formula Jet Sprint Association V8 Superboats 350-class champions after the final round in Temora.

DECEMBER

TWENTY years after first entering the ring, Hervey Bay's champion boxer Jarrod Fletcher gets his first shot at a world title. The 30-year-old will take on England's No.1 Martin Murray for the World Boxing Association middleweight crown in Monte Carlo on February 1.

Married hockey couple Lisa and Nathan Eglington held a special skills clinic for some of the local players during their Christmas break back home in Maryborough. The two-dozen participants were put through a series of drills by Lisa, a former Granville player, and Nathan, an ex-Kookaburra and Olympic gold medallist.

Other highlights:

CRICKET: Past Grammars' dominance in the Sugar Cities Club Challenge came to an end as Across The Waves scored a 96-run victory in the grand final.

MUAY THAI: Five young Muay Thai fighters from the Street Smart Thai Boxing Centre booked a spot at next year's world championships in Malaysia after tasting glory at the Australian Junior Muay Thai Titles.

BOWLS: A history of 120 years was celebrated as Doon Villa Bowls Club - the oldest surviving bowls club in Queensland - marked the major milestone with an anniversary luncheon and, of course, some bowls.



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