TALENT ON SHOW: Some of the greatest sporting stories from over the years.
TALENT ON SHOW: Some of the greatest sporting stories from over the years.

BEST OF SPORT: 18 stand out sports stories

CQ News journalists have reported on a range of sport stories over the years and have helped shine a light on outstanding athletes across the region.

Take a ride down memory lane and look back on some of these outstanding sports stories.


We have followed the journey of Emerald based powerlifter Cass Pickard since 2013. Less than a year after starting the sport she was representing Australia at the Oceania and Commonwealth Powerlifting Championships in New Zealand. In 2017 she was named a world champion. In June Pickard returned to Emerald with gold in the dead lift, silver in the squat and bronze in the bench to claim gold overall in the M1 under 63kg ladies’ division at the World Championships in Belarus.

“That’s what I was wanting, I wasn’t going to lose so I was hoping for that,” she said. Pickard also came second in the masters overall, across all weight divisions.

Emerald Powerlifting World Champion Cass Pickard.
Emerald Powerlifting World Champion Cass Pickard.

Rugby league, 2016

IT IS the tale of two Cowboys who have come a long way from their junior football days. Ex-Cowboys players Dan Russell and Andrew Davey recently faced off on the football field in the Intrust Super Cup game between the South Logan Magpies and the Mackay Cutters. For Emerald Cowboys president James Verzeletti, he could not be more proud of the boys who played for the club at different stages during their football days. Though they played for the same club, the Intrust Super Cup game was their first time on the field together and the game ended in a draw.

“That’s what I like as a president and a fan, is seeing blokes come through the system,” Verzeletti said.

Soccer, 2011

GOAL keeper is a pressure cooker position at the best of times but try combining it with one of the most important games of your relatively short football career and the nerves take a beating. Emerald keeper Maddie Edmonds, 11, knows more than most what that feeling is like after undergoing a rigorous Capricornia selection trial at Boyne Island late last month. After playing six competition games over three days from which the Central Highlands representatives won three, lost two and drew one – Maddie was selected in her final match in the possible versus probable game. Or so she thought. Even after the final whistle was blown, the Capricornia coaches couldn’t separate the final three goal keeping candidates, forcing the final few into a makeorbreak goal keeper shootout. It will be Maddie’s first appearance for Capricornia when she lines up with teammates for the State Titles in Brisbane on Saturday, July 23.

Brad West.
Brad West.

Motocross, 2013

BRAD West returned from the Australian Junior Motocross Championships victorious, winning all five of his races and jumping all over the competition.

The nine-year-old from Blackwater dominated the 65cc seven to nine class, finishing 25 points in front of his closest rival, to stand on top of the podium.

Brad was stoked about his victory.

He said it was all the sweeter because last year he came second.

“We’ve got the number one trophy, which is probably a metre tall, it’s just about as big as him,” Brad’s dad Sean West said.

The championships were held in Horsham, Victoria.

Brad had a tough job as he competed against 24 other riders. Brad has been racing since he was three and has been hooked ever since.

Cricket, 2013

IT WAS fast, freakish and a real game changer.

That catch by Emerald Brothers paceman Jamie Iker was instrumental in the brethren’s 12-run win over the Clermont Bulls in last weekend’s Central Highlands Cricket clash in Emerald.

On the brink of victory, the Bulls looked set to surpass Brothers’ modest 152 first-innings total until a sensational caught and bowled by Iker in the game’s dying stages swung the momentum in the Brothers’ favour.

By all accounts, Iker even had time to execute a class-A tumble roll to finish it off. The win puts Brothers two points clear of Clermont at the top of the table with three rounds remaining.

Rugby Union Grand Final on Saturday, August 4 between Emerald Rams and Clermont Bushpigs. The Emerald Rams took out their 5th Premiership.
Rugby Union Grand Final on Saturday, August 4 between Emerald Rams and Clermont Bushpigs. The Emerald Rams took out their 5th Premiership.

Rugby Union, 2018

EMERALD Rams won their fifth premiership in a row in 2018. CQ News spoke to the team in the lead up to the game.

THE Central Highlands Rugby Union grand final will be contested in Emerald this weekend, with the Emerald Rams going for their fifth premiership in a row.

Emerald Rams coach Jim Fabish said, for the second year in a row, they had made the finals undefeated and were hoping to continue their winning streak.

“We’ve had a great season,” he said.

“Last year, that was our fourth premiership in a row, which was a record for Central Highlands, so this year there’s even more pressure on us.”

Reigning victors will take on Clermont Bushpigs tomorrow, the third year in a row the two teams have gone head to head in the grand final.

“If you go back in history, the last 40 years, the battles between the Bushpigs and the Rams goes all the way back to the beginning,” Fabish said.

“We’re always coming up against them and every time we play them, it’s a tough encounter.”

Equestrian, 2018

IN August, Springsure’s Kelly Coyne will travel to the United Kingdom to represent Australia in the 2018 Mounted Games.

He has been a Springsure Pony Club member since he was two years old, and now at 15 he will compete as part of the five-person Australian team.

“I’m very proud to be able to represent my town, district, state and country,” he said.

“This is my first time wearing the green and gold.”

The Mounted Games is a branch of equestrian sport and consists of a series of very fast races. It’s a team sport, which heavily relies on agility, speed, technique, endurance, good riding skills and hand to eye co-ordination.

This will be his first trip overseas with the Australian team, who he will only meet days before the competition.

2018 Australian Champion Aaron Kleier.
2018 Australian Champion Aaron Kleier.

Bull riding, 2018

HE’S been sitting in the number one spot throughout the year, but on the weekend Clermont bull rider Aaron Kleier bucked the stiff competition from around the country and rode his way to victory to be named Australia’s new Professional Bull Riding (PBR) champion. A first-time winner of the prestigious title and $15,000 in prizemoney, Kleier, 20, was previously the 2017 PBR Australia Rookie of the Year.

However, he said the weekend’s championship was the “biggest” title he had taken home, and the competition had been “tough”.

“It was pretty close between a few of us.”

In a battle for the Australian title, Kleier – dubbed ‘Mr Consistency’ due to having ridden more bulls than anyone else on the PBR Australia Tour this year – topped the Australian roster at the Grand Finals, finishing just behind Brazil’s Rubens Barbosa and event winner Lucas Divino.

Horse racing, 2019

CLERMONT apprentice Emma Bell rubbed shoulders with the who’s who of racing on the September 22 at the Queensland racing awards night which was hosted at the Sofitel in Brisbane.

Bell was announced from a statewide pool of apprentice jockeys as the Queensland country apprentice of the year.

Bell only started race riding in 2017 as a mature age apprentice and indentured to her mother Jenny Bell in Clermont.

Clermont jockey Emma Bell.
Clermont jockey Emma Bell.

Rugby Union, 2017

The season may be over for the men’s competition, but the ladies are just warming up. In big news for the rugby fans in the region, Central Highlands Rugby Union has announced the creation of a women’s competition. Scheduled to start November 18, the competition features three rounds of matches plus a grand final game. The chance of being crowned the inaugural Central Highlands Women’s Rugby Union Champion is enticing to the Rolleston Flyers who already boast a strong side.

Swimming, 2012

BLACKWATER’S Adrienne Geary already has almost every age champion trophy on offer in the region, but ever the competitor, she still yearns for more.

Adrienne will take on some of the state’s best this week at the 13-19 years Queensland Swimming Championships in Brisbane.

The youngster will represent the Capricornia team in the 15 years 50m freestyle, 50m breaststroke, 50m butterfly and the 4 x 50m freestyle relay and the 4 x 50m medley relay.

If that wasn’t enough, she was also hoping to be in line for the 100m freestyle and the 100m breaststroke, with qualification still yet to be finalised.

The Blackwater Barracudas club swimmer and Marist College student smashed not one but three longstanding school records in her last start at the Marist Swim Carnival in Capella.

Ashley Herwin. Photo Contributed
Ashley Herwin. Photo Contributed

Waterskiing, 2016

BORN into a family with a love of waterskiing, Ashley Herwin would spend hours on end at the Emerald Ski Club as a young boy before taking up the sport himself.

After a 13-year lay-off, Herwin’s amphibious instincts brought him back to the sport two-and-a-half years ago, and earlier this month he achieved greatness in his fifth race since being back.

He took out firstplace in the 40–50 men’s age group at the Australian Waterski Racing Titles in Bundaberg earlier this year.

“It still doesn’t feel quite right, and I keep pinching myself,” the 41-year-old explained.

Herwin won his first Queensland title in 1983 as a nine-year-old, and counts nine other titles along the way. This, however, tops them all.

“This is the top. The best I had done before on the nationals was second in the 20–30 men’s in 1996,” he said.

Golf, 2015

EMERALD golfer Grant Morgan thought his masterful day on the greens was over when bunkered on the 17th – he was wrong.

When he holed out of the bunker and shot a birdie on the 18th and final hole, history was made at the Emerald Golf Club.

Morgan’s score of 59 is unheard of in golf terms and certainly a first for the club.

“We had two holes to play and I joked with the boys that I needed to birdie the last two for 59. We had a laugh about it,” 42-year-old Morgan recalled.

“I hit my tee shot into the bunker and thought it was all over, but I got out and then birdied the 18th.

“It’s an amazing feeling. It’s my best day on the greens ever.”

Club professional Dave Delahunty said it was a truly amazing feat.

“Fifty-nine is a dream and aspiration of all top players. Professionals look at that type of number and aim for it,” Delahunty said.

“For the greatest players in the world, it is something they all try and achieve. It would definitely be a first for the club.”

Morgan began playing when he was 12 and almost turned pro in 1999. He came to Emerald in early 2014 and joined the club immediately.

Grant Morgan stares down the fairway at the Emerald Golf Club. Photo Matty Holdsworth
Grant Morgan stares down the fairway at the Emerald Golf Club. Photo Matty Holdsworth

Campdraft, 2013

TRENT Challacombe had a double dose of luck competing in the JBS Australia Swift Premium Maiden Draft at Paradise Lagoons.

After tying with Todd Hammond for first place, Challacombe on Sinful Destiny won the second nailbiting run-off to claim victory.

He also took out equal third on his other mare Lenas Sonita.

For Challacombe, who has competed at Paradise Lagoons for the past six to seven years, it was a special achievement.

“I’ve picked up a couple of places here and there but never won,” he said.

Challacombe won on eight-year-old mare Sinful Destiny, owned by Peter Morris of Middlemount, which has previously won three Reining Futurities as a three-year-old.

Motocross, 2019

TWO young Central Queensland sisters are making their mark in motocross, riding for their country before they’ve reached their teenage years.

Hayley Ball, 12, and her younger sister Brooke, 9, are two of six Australian riders who have been selected to compete as part of the Go Girl Racing Australia Motocross Team for next year.

The young Emerald siblings will travel to New Zealand in January to compete against international riders at the King of the Mountain in the Taranaki and Woodville GP Oceania Challenge.

Both girls were riding before they were three-years-old, racing from four-years-old and have both held numerous titles winning consecutive female championships in Queensland.

Emerald sisters Hayley and Brooke Ball.
Emerald sisters Hayley and Brooke Ball.

Rugby Union, 2018

LOCAL teams travelled to Darwin last weekend and finished high on the ladder in an international competition. The Coca-Cola Hottest 7s in the World was held over January 20 and 21. The CQ Dingoes sent three teams, two men’s teams who played four games each and a women’s team which played six games. The Dingoes were part of 40 registered teams from Europe, Malaysia, New Zealand and Australia.

CQ Dingoes coach and manager Teran McCasker said the team competed at the event last year, and the improvements were very noticeable.

“It’s the best results we’ve had since going there,” he said.

“Our women’s team made the cup final where they played France Development.

“Our first men’s team made the bowl semi-final where they were knocked out by a local invitational team. Our development team made the cup semis in the second division.”

Mariah Storch from Blackwater was presented with the player of the tournament for the CQ Dingoes after leading the women to victory.

Rugby league, 2019

AT ONLY 17 years old, Emerald’s Cass Marks has a bright career ahead of her in rugby league.

Earlier this year, Marks competed in the Central Highlands Rugby League Hit Out where she was chosen as Player of the Carnival.

She then competed at the 2019 47th Battalion Carnival on the Sunshine Coast, where she was selected for the Central Crows’ Emerging Women’s team.

However, the sweetest treat for Marks so far came at last week’s Queensland Country Women’s trials in Mackay.

There, the Central Crows’ Emerging and A-Grade Women’s teams battled it out against the Northern Marlins for a coveted Queensland Country Jersey and a chance to play at this year’s National Women’s Championships.

After a hard-fought 22-8 victory over the Emerging Marlins, Marks was selected for the Crows’ A-Grade side. Marks said playing for A-Grade Women’s team was going to be lots of fun.

School sport, 2010

EMERALD State School’s rugby league and netball teams made it through to the finals in the Education Queensland’s State Primary Schools Regional Shield in Rockhampton at the weekend.

Coach Corey Hand said all the students played well during the three days of competition.

“Both teams made it to the finals games,” Hand said.

Sam Barsby was Emerald State School’s rugby league Player of the Carnival.

Hand said Byron Jones, Jacob Weatherley and Soine Tuuholaki also put in strong performances for the Emerald State School rugby league team.

Hayley Sullivan was named Emerald State School’s netball Player of the Carnival.

“There were some close games played during the shield,” Hand said.

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