THE depth of Bendigo’s junior orienteering program was evident at the recent Victorian primary schools western zone championships in Melbourne.
Local children won four of the eight individual races in division A, as well as claiming several other podium placings.
In his final year of primary school, Girton Grammar student Michael Loughnan blitzed his course to take out the top prize in the grade six boys’ A event.
Fellow Girton pupil Serryn Eenjes was victorious in the grade three girls’ A race, while Lockwood Primary School’s Caitlin Steer finished equal first in the grade five girls’ A division.
All three are members of the Bendigo Orienteers junior development program, known as the J-Squad, and have competed at club and state-level events in 2012.
Serryn was a placegetter in the national 10-and-under sprint orienteering championship earlier this year.
About 650 primary students took part in the event at Hawkestowe Park in South Morang, navigating around courses between 1.5km and 3km long.
Competitors had to find controls marked by orange and white flags that were scattered around the 15-hectare park.
There were B-class courses for relative beginners, where all controls were along roads and pathways, A-class events that required runners to leave the paths to locate the controls, and pairs races for those who preferred to compete with a friend.
Although not a regular orienteer, Eaglehawk North Primary student Meg Bramley showed great navigation skills at the carnival to run out a winner in the grade four girls’ A event.
Other Bendigo competitors to finish in the top three were Erin Varker of Eaglehawk North, who was second in grade six girls’ A; Brodie James and Connor Filcock of Eaglehawk North, who were second in the grade four boys’ pairs race; and Jack Wigney of Maiden Gully Primary, who was third in grade four A.
Wigney, another J-squad member, was second a week earlier at the Victorian eastern zone primary orienteering carnival.
Inter-school orienteering started in 1979 in Victoria, with a dedicated primary event held for the first time soon after.
Five junior club members from Bendigo represented Victoria at the Australian secondary schools carnival in Tasmania in October.
Tavish Eenjes and Lachlan Cherry were part of the bronze medal-winning junior boys team, Leisha Maggs was an emergency for the Australian junior schools squad, and Louis Cameron and John-Joe Wilson were travelling reserves.
Victorian Primary Schools Western Zone Orienteering:
Boys: Michael Loughnan, GGS: 1st, 6A; Will Noden, ENPS: 6th, 6A; Jordan Anderson, ENPS: 7th, 6A; Zac Giddings/Cooper Saunders, MGPS: 9th, 6 pairs; Thomas Wigney/Darcy Poulter, MGPS: 19th, 6 pairs; Macklin Wellard, ENPS: 4th, 5A; Jack Cripps, GGS: 8th 5A; Jack Wigney, MGPS: 3rd, 4A; Brodie James/Connor Filcock, ENPS: 2nd, 4 pairs.
Girls: Erin Varker, ENPS: 2nd, 6A; Katie Wilson, MGPS: 4th, 6A; Chloe Green, GGS: 5th 6A; Chelsea Kenworthy/Bridgitt Bailey, ENPS: 6th, 6 pairs; Caitlin Steer, LPS: 1st, 5A; Lain Jackson, ENPS: 4th, 5A; Jemma Holmberg, ENPS: 6th, 5A; Sarah Maggs, ENPS: 9th, 5A; Emily Earl, GGS: 11th, 5A; Meg Bramley, ENPS: 1st 4A; Georgia Hall/Amber Storie-Stott, ENPS: 4th, 4 pairs; Serryn Eenjes, GGS: 1st, 3A.