The chance to play at both senior and their own age group drove Kolora-Noorat’s Ned Payne and South Rovers’ Hannah Garner to Warrnambool and District league junior best and fairest victories on Monday night.
Payne, who also won last year’s under 14.5 best and fairest, edged out Panmure’s Bradley Gedye (21) and Old Collegians’ Jacob Brooks (17) to claim the under 17.5 top individual award with 23 votes.
The 15-year-old midfielder, who has featured in nine senior games for the Power (three full games and six as the sub), said the exposure at senior level helped him.
“It’s been really good (playing seniors). I’ve been getting used to the bigger bodies and I can take it back to junior footy,” he said.
“(Senior coach) Danny Finn has been saying to me to just play my role and as long as I play the best in the areas I’m good at.”
Garner (27) was a runaway victor in the 17 and under netball count, finishing nine votes clear of joint runner-up Dennington’s Bonnie Williamson and Old Collegians’ Cassidy Waller (18).
The 16-year-old has also featured in her club’s top grade, playing eight games in the Lions’ A-grade side under Jess Rohan.
The midcourter said she wanted to improve her fitness as she took a step up next year.
“I just want to work on my consistency and be able to stay consistent throughout the whole game,“ she said.
“I want to be able to play out quarters in every game I play next year.”
Henry Kenna completed a Kolora-Noorat football double with a run-away victory in the under 14.5s.
The Power midfielder finished on 38 votes, 15 clear of Timboon Demons’ Ned Deppler (23) with Allansford’s Ethan Boyd (22) 16 votes adrift in third.
The 14-year-old said working on his pressure acts and a relaxed approach to games had helped his stellar season.
Old Collegians’ Chloe McKenzie credited time playing in the Warriors’ A grade side for her strong form in the 15 and under side, which led to her taking out the best and fairest with 35 votes.
The 15-year-old centre, who has played wing defence in the Meagan Forth and Jess Toleman-led top grade side, finished eight votes clear of Merrivale’s Tatum Cassidy (27) and 14 ahead of South Rovers’ Zahra Walker (21).
“I learnt a heap after I joined mid-year and just training with them I learnt so much,” she said.
“Then taking the court I learnt so much more and it was a good position to have. Meagan said to me I just need to back myself and it has given me a lot of confidence.”
Russells Creek defender Charlotte Van Der Starre (32 votes) took out the 13 and under victory by two votes over South Rovers’ Grace Biggs (30) with Merrivale’s Jayde Kent 12 behind in third (20).
The 13-year-old credited a move by her coach Thalia Robertson for her strong form this season.
“I was put in a new position this year after I started in centre,” she said. “Thalia then moved me to goal defence and I enjoyed that.”