BENDIGO is reaping the rewards of its strong junior orienteering program, with seven members of the local club selected in Victoria's schools team.
The young navigators will fly to Perth in September with the 20-strong Team Vic squad for the week-long Australian championship carnival.
This includes two days of School Sport Australia competition featuring individual races and team relays for junior and senior boys and girls.
After recent trials, Bendigo Senior Secondary College year 11 pupils Leisha Maggs and Louis Cameron have been named in Victoria's senior squad.
They will be joined by Lachlan Cherry, from Creek Street Christian College, who will travel with the team and compete as a senior reserve.
It is the third consecutive year the trio have taken part in the national schools event, with previous trips to Tasmania and the ACT.
Bendigo dominates Team Vic's junior boys group, with three of the four athletes hailing from the local club.
Jimmy Cameron (Bendigo South East College) and Michael Loughnan (Girton Grammar) make their state debut, as will Glenn James, from the Woodleigh School.
Though Glenn now lives in Melbourne, he started orienteering in Bendigo, remains a member of the club here, and returns regularly for events in the region.
Crusoe College year seven student Caitlyn Steer will also represent Victoria for the first time at the carnival in WA, in the junior girls division. She is from a strong orienteering family - cousins Lanita and Asha Steer are in the Australian team heading to the world junior titles in Bulgaria in July.
Bendigo Orienteers president Jim Russell said the club often had two or three members in the Victorian schools squad over the past decade, but seven in the one year was outstanding.
“It's an incredible effort from all involved in achieving this milestone,” he said.
“We have a very good junior program - starting from Space Racing for primary student and working up - and we are now seeing the results of our efforts."
Russell said orienteering was a fantastic sport for juniors and their parents.
"It's one of the few sports where daughters and sons can compete against mum or dad, on a level playing field.
"It's a sport for all ages. You are never too young – or old – to read a map and enjoy the local bush.”
Orienteering involves navigating around a course marked on a contour map, where the fastest to all checkpoint in order wins.
Victoria is the reigning Australian schools champion.