A NEW era for Bendigo Bats starts in Saturday's first round of Athletics Victoria's cross-country series on the Jells Park circuit.
Bats have earned promotion to premier division for the first time in many years.
Athlete and team manager Nigel Preston said Bendigo would field 12 teams in the relays action
"There are a lot of first-time competitors from across Bendigo region who will race the XCR series," Preston said.
"Nathan Stoate, Archie Reid, Brian McGinley and Matt Buckell will all make their Premier division debut," said Preston.
The Bats, who will be captained by Brady Threlfall, will take on Ballarat, Collingwood Harriers, APS United, Doncaster, Geelong, Glenhuntly, Box Hill, Melbourne University, St Stephens Harriers and Western Athletics in men's Premier Division.
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The Bats will compete in men's premier division, men's division four, women's open division four, 50-plus men, 50-plus women, and 40-plus men at Jells Park. Bendigo has also selected two men's teams in division seven, two under-18 boys line-ups, as well as an under-20 girls and under-18 girls squad.
Under the relay format, athletes in open divisions will each race a 6km leg.
The under-20 and under-18 teams race 3km legs.
Bendigo Bats squads:
Premier men - Brady Threlfall (captain), Andy Buchanan, Matt Buckell, Brian McGinley, Archie Reid, Nathan Stoate. Reserve: Stephen van Rees, Jamie Cook.
Div. 4 men: Luke Millard (c), Jordan Buckell, Jamie Cook, Matthew Heislers, Glenn McMillan. Reserve: Matthew Schepisi, Ben Stolz. Div. 4 women: Alice Wilkinson (c), Rebecca Wilkinson, Rhianna Wik-Gamble.
Div. 7 men, team one: Matthew Schepisi (c), Chris Armstrong, Rory Flanagan, Jake Delaney. Div. 7 men, team two: Ben Stolz (c), Aaron Norton, David Lonsdale, Darren Hartland.
40-plus men: Stephen van Rees (c), Mike Bieleny, Nick McDermott. 50-plus men: Jim Russell (c), David Heislers, Antony Langdon. 50-plus women: Anne Buckley (c), Ingrid Woodward, Debbie Kirne. Reserve: Helen Anderson.
Under-20 girls: Phoebe Lonsdale (c), Taryn Furletti, Tullie Rowe. Under-18 boys, team one: Harrison Boyd (c), Jayden Padgham, Logan Tickell. Under-18 boys, team two: Max Rowe (c), Avery McDermid, Mason Woodward. Reserve: Daniel Noden. Under-18 girls: Chelsea Tickell (c), Tully Lang, Ebony Woodward.
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