Fraser Coast's top 18 junior stars of tomorrow
YOUNG STARS: The Fraser Coast is home to some of Queensland's most exciting junior talents. Here's 18 of our best athletes with huge futures.
This list is not ranking the absolute best 18 junior athletes on the Fraser Coast; it is just a glimpse of the talents in our region.
Last week, we looked back at the top 18 moments of 2018.
Today, we look forward to 18 young athletes who have the potential to go all the way.
Inclusion on this list is not a guarantee they will make the highest stage, and exclusion does not mean they won't.
Every single young athlete has the chance to make it, but it is the dedication, motivation, drive and commitment to training and the improvement of their skills that will decide how far they go.
Keith Ashcroft, Swimming
DUBBED the "Superfish", Ashcroft is already being pursued by some of south-east Queensland's best colleges eager to sign him up to a scholarship.
Born in Saipan, he spent short stints at the Philippines and Gold Coast before his family moved to Hervey Bay.
Coached by Caleb Ryan, the Hervey Bay Swimming Club member had a year to remember. He returned from the School Sport Australia Swimming Championships with eight medals - five gold, three silver - and was Queensland's swimmer of the meet, and recently added more gold to his growing collection at the Swimming Queensland Championships.
He was also named the male athlete of the year at the first Fraser Coast Sport Awards.
Isabelle Baumanis, Netball
SELECTION for Queensland Country could just be the latest in a string of representative honours for this young netball prodigy.
One of the brightest talents on a Fraser Coast netball court, Baumanis has spent the past several seasons under the watchful eye of elite coach Kerrianne Farrelly.
Bullets' goal shooter in their Hervey Bay Netball Association premiership-winning side, Boscia, Baumanis was clearly best on court as her team won the title. Baumanis was also part of the under-19s Sunshine Coast Lynx team, and is a member of Hervey Bay's Queensland Premier League team.
Netball Queensland's new Ruby and Sapphire Series will provide a clear pathway for our local netballers, and don't be surprised if Baumanis is among those players to get an opportunity in one of the first seasons of the new leagues.
Alec Braund, Tennis
THE next decade's tennis circuit could be dominated by a Heritage City product if Alec Braund continues to develop.
It sounds like a prediction made far too early, but Tennis Australia coaches have described the Maryborough ace as a young gun with limitless potential, and a big future.
Braund, who trains under Bruce Rayner, is known for his lethal serve and blistering forehand, and in 2018 he had the chance to showcase those skills in the green and gold.
He represented Australia at the ITF World Junior Finals, and while he didn't return with a championship win, Braund brought home plenty of experience from which he can develop his career.
Domestically, he added more titles to his growing junior resume, including the Australian Claycourt Championships in Canberra as well as his third straight Eddie Machin Medal at the Tennis Queensland awards.
Diarmid Chappell, Hockey
THE four Chappell children have earned countless state and national selections across several sports, but its the youngest who may have the best opportunity to reach the top.
Tarack played for Australia's under-21 country team last month, Aniston toured South- East Asia with Queensland's volleyball team, and Carter has played and umpired at national championships several times.
The youngest, Diarmid, is a rare talent who can excel at almost any sport.
The Maryborough youngster has proved his sporting ability in several sports already, having excelled in touch football and represented his region in golf, and this year he played for Queensland in both hockey and volleyball, to great success.
He still has a few years before he has to choose which sport he wants to follow.
He already plays against men in Division 1 hockey competitions, so a future as a Kookaburras rep may not be totally out of the question.
Grace Collins, Cricket
FRASER Coast's spin princess Grace Collins "doesn't want to aim too high", but her dreams of playing for Brisbane Heat and Australia could be realised sooner than she realises if she maintains her focus.
At 11, Collins is one of the youngest on this list, but you would be hard-pressed finding any other 11-year-old in the state with more commitment to Australia's favourite summer sport than her.
Collins is a two-time state cricket representative, winning one national title for Queensland and finishing second last year, and has worked on her batting to complement her advanced skill as a leg-spinner.
Even in winter, when she is more likely to compete in football, Aussie rules, touch footy, athletics and Oztag - she is a jill of many trades - Collins will not be far from the cricket nets.
Col Curry, Cycling
ONCE a national triathlon champion, Col Curry could very well replicate Fraser Coast cycling stars' Jay McCarthy, Dylan Newbery and Mal Rudolph's success on two wheels.
Curry won the Australian Youth B Triathlon Championship as a 13-year-old in 2016/17, icing the series with a dominant victory at Perth's Way Out West Triathlon.
While a regular Wide Bay representative since then, it is on the bike he has made some of his biggest moves.
Last year he earned a place in Queensland's team for the National Road Race Championships. He was not among the leaders, but the experience has him in good stead to follow our established stars.
Piper Dower, Gymnastics
ONE of the youngest athletes to be included in Gymnastics Queensland's High Performance training program, Piper Dower's future will be as big as she makes it.
Judging by her dedication and commitment to training as an eight-year-old today, Piper is making the right moves to be among those in contention for a future Olympics berth.
So much can happen between now and then, but enough people in the right places believe the youngest member of this list has the potential to be an international, and she has the backing of parents who are willing to make huge sacrifices so she can reach her goals.
All Piper needs is to stay committed, and history says that won't be a problem.
Now invited to the high-performance training program, three years ago she tried to convince coaches she deserved the chance to train alongside established state and international gymnasts.
Paige Hatherell, Cricket
CRICKET has already taken Paige Hatherell on adventures she could never have predicted, but this is the just the start if the talented Maryborough bowler gets her way.
Hatherell is a product of Brothers Shamrocks, and while she still plays for the side in the Fraser Coast reserve grade competitions she has represented her state and made history.
She was part of the Coastal Burners team which went through the under-15s female state challenge undefeated in December 2018, and will soon play for Queensland's Indigenous women's team for the second time.
Hatherell played for Queensland in her first National Indigenous Cricket Championship at Alice Springs last year, and will do so again next month. Experience in those competitions, which has featured the Twenty20 stars Ashleigh Gardner and D'Arcy Short, will keep her on the right track to the top.
Isaac Kelsey, Cricket/Football
HERVEY Bay teenager Issac Kelsey is rapidly approaching the age where he will have to choose which sport he wants to follow, but for now he ranks as one of our best junior cricketers and goalkeepers.
Kelsey has several Wide Bay cricket caps to his name, and was also the primary goalkeeper for Wide Bay Buccaneers' under-15s team.
The under-15 Buccaneers made history to be the club's first team to make the finals, but he saved his biggest performance for the Joeys Mini World Cup in Hervey Bay.
It was there he was judged by former Socceroos coach Rale Rasic as one of the best pure goalkeeping talents the coaching legend had seen.
Kelsey earned a place in the Joeys team for a tour of Germany later this year, and his success in both sports has him in the enviable spot of being able to choose which he wants to pursue.
Harry King, Triathlon
RAW talent, drive, and a dedication to be the absolute best earned Harry King a place in this list of exciting juniors.
King, coached by Lars Olsen at B Mee Multisports Club, had a breakout year in triathlon.
He was the only Fraser Coast athlete to earn direct entry to the state team after he finished fourth at the Queensland School Sport Triathlon Championships in Hervey Bay (other locals were reserves), and he repeated his fourth-placed finish at nationals.
On both occasions he battled injury in the lead-up, which means his full potential is yet to be realised.
Should he avoid injury and focus again on those competitions, King could very well become the next name on a growing list of triathlon talents to achieve at the highest level.
Layla Martiensen, Surf life saving
A LEAFLET dropped in the letterbox of the Martiensen home could have delivered our next great surf life saver.
Layla Martiensen won Hervey Bay Surf Life Saving Club's first medal at the SLSQ Youth Championships last year when she won bronze in the under-12 female beach flags.
One of many talents who test their talents at the beach, Martiensen is just as at home in the swimming pool as she is on sand. A member of both HBSLSC and Hervey Bay Swimming Club, Martiensen is a junior lifesaver to watch.
Ashleigh Moller, Speedway
JUNIOR sport success is equal parts self-motivation, drive and dedication and unwavering support from those closest.
Those ingredients are what earns junior speedway gun Ashleigh Moller a place in this list of our stars of tomorrow.
Moller is one of a growing base of talented drivers at Maryborough Speedway, and while a fair argument could be made for many local drivers it is her commitment to driving at the highest competitions and achieving top results across several classes that sets her apart.
She is regularly one of Maryborough Speedway's top performers in the junior sedans races, whether they are at Wide Bay level or one of many Queensland and Australian titles at which she has raced, and a move to karts has made her even better behind the wheel.
Moller's time in the juniors is limited, though her development in both sedans and karts - as well her fantastic support crew - could set her up for a long career in motorsport.
Bailey Paxton, Football
HE IS one of the growing crop of gun goalscorers unearthed by the Wide Bay Buccaneers, but Bailey Paxton could easily wind up plying his talents at one of the world's elite clubs.
A prolific striker who counts Manchester City's all-time highest goal-scorer Sergio Aguero as his favourite player, Paxton found the net 31 times in just 24 games for the under-15 Buccaneers last year.
In the previous year, he scored 38 goals from 22 games for KSS Jets Spitfires on their way to the under-15 Fraser Coast League title and scored 44 goals in 20 Inter City Challenge games.
He has already been offered opportunities to trial for academy teams both at home and abroad, and it seems just a matter of time before Paxton is playing at an even higher level.
Teya Rufus, BMX
THERE is a very good reason why Maryborough BMX Club's Teya Rufus was named Fraser Coast Sport Awards' junior female athlete of the year.
It is not just because of her success on the BMX track.
Yes, she is a seriously good rider with bucketloads of potential, dual state titles and world championship experience, but it is her attitude towards the sport and competition that will put her in the fast lane to the top of the BMX world.
A defending dual champion when she lined up for the state titles last year, Rufus crashed and finished her last moto at the back of the pack.
But rather than fold, like so many others would and do, Rufus dusted herself off, got back in the saddle, and blitzed the field. She won the finals, winning the state title in both the 20-inch and cruisers, and asserting her place as the state's best junior BMX rider.
Savannah Ritter, Softball
THE only Queenslander to tour Japan as part of an under-age Australian Diamonds team, Hervey Bay softballer Savannah Ritter (pictured, top right) has the talent to excel.
The New York Yankees fan was one of 90 to nominate interest in the tour, which doubled as a development tour for the 2020 junior world championships in Japan.
A long-time Wide Bay and Queensland representative who has played as pitcher and catcher and can hit a dinger, Ritter has the talent and ability to follow fellow Hervey Bay product Jade Wall's footsteps to the Aussie Spirit side.
With softball's re-entry to the Olympic Games in 2020, there's no telling how far Ritter could go in the diamond sport.
Keira Stephens, Swimming
POWERED by a five-word mantra, "I can, and I will", Keira Stephens has developed into a world-class swimmer on the right track to the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.
You would expect to struggle the first time you competed against recognised Olympic or Paralympic athletes, but Keira Stephens had none of that.
While many dream of the opportunity to represent their country, the Fraser Coast swim sensation lived it last year when she earned a place in Australia's team for the Pan Pacific Para Swimming Championships in Cairns.
The chance to swim alongside and against recognised global athletes and be fully immersed in the Australian team means she knows what she has to do to get there.
Continual improvements on her times under local coach Marcus Elder and her desire to succeed will get her there.
Jhairah Taylor, Football/Athletics
JHAIRAH Taylor does his best talking when he's on the football field or near an athletics track.
Already a promising football player, Taylor was one of the leading goalscorers in Wide Bay Buccaneers' inaugural Queensland Premier League season. He is locked in for another season in our highest competition, but his performance on another surface turned heads last year.
Taylor was the first Wide Bay athlete to complete the 100m-200m gold medal double at a state championships, despite being only able to train on either a 55m-long strip of synthetic track used as a long jump run-up or on grass.
His national title campaign ended early through injury.
Matthew Taylor, Athletics
INJURY cruelled Matthew Taylor's All Schools Athletics Championships at Cairns late last year but the Urangan State High School student is certainly one to watch on the track.
The young gun set 10 state records at the end of the year, and is committed to representing Australia in long distance running events.
He has dreamed of wearing the green and gold, and has the 2022 Commonwealth Games or 2024 Olympic Games circled as a potential highlight.
He could even jag a start at the Tokyo Olympics in 2020 if the stars align, with Australia's athletics hierarchy watching his times and development.