By Mark Heenan
Ocean Grove Surf Life Saving Club has the best Nippers in the state and that’s official.
The club took overall honours at the Junior State Championships at Warrnambool over the weekend.
The 2017/18 Life Saving Victoria Nipper competitor season drew to a close with the two-day carnival in Victoria’s southwest on 10 and 11 March.
Ocean Grove SLSC Nippers dominated in Saturday’s individual competition on the opening day in warm and ideal conditions with many locals winning gold.
Ocean Grove SLSC Junior Activities Manager Darren Ball said it was a thrill for the young Nippers to win their first gold and back up two days in a row at the state season finale.
Around 94 Ocean Grove Nippers competed at the two-day event.
“Results are terrific – so proud of the kids and the little ones get pump out of it,” Ball told the Voice.
“It is the first time a lot of these kids have done a two-day carnival – so it is a big two days.
“The endurance training that we do helps these kids over the two days and it comes out in the results – it is a very intense two days.”
Ball said the competition side was a bonus with the goal to train Nippers as future lifesavers.
“We are training our kids to be lifesavers – the competition is a byproduct,” he said.
Highlights included Under 14 star local Marcus Bird’s three individual gold medals in the Iron, Tube Race and Board Race.
Bird took the overall Nipper of the Year honour and Water Competitor award.
Local female competitor Jemima Asher won gold in the Under 14 Swim.
Jemima’s brother Campbell Asher won Boys Under 12 Surf Board gold.
Campbell Asher teamed up with James Leahy and Remy Roberts to win gold in the Under 12 Boys Surf Board Relay.
Shani Paranavitana took out overall honours in the Under 12 Beach Flags over club compatriot Pippi McIntyre who claimed silver.
McIntrye went one better in the Under 12 Beach Sprint to take out gold.
Ocean Grove competitors had strong performances on day two and performed well in team events.
The Under 9 quartet of Ned Allan, William Goldstraw, Tobias Hallam and Lucian Joyce won gold in the Boys Surf Team race.
Lucian Joyce won the Under 9 Boys Wade Race gold, while Tobias Hallam took silver.
Holly Confoy, Chelsea Hanks, Georgie McIntrye and Emma Pounder came away with victory in the Under 9 Girls Wade Relay.
Ball thanked parents, family members and club officials for their tireless work and support across the two-day state titles and junior carnivals during the summer.