By MITCHELL DALE
SAWTELL Surf Life Saving Club has once again ranked among the outstanding country clubs in the State with a string of impressive results at the senior and junior NSW titles this month.
At the senior titles, the small Sawtell team came home with a medal haul of two golds, a silver and two bronze.
A week earlier, the junior squad walked away with two golds, two silvers and a bronze.
"It was a very good effort from a little country club," Sawtell coach Terry de Carle said.
At the junior titles at Umina, Sawtell finished third of all country clubs and 12th overall with only a dozen competitors.
Putting their result into perspective, winning club, Cronulla, had around 190 competitors.
Kayla Russell again proved her class in her final junior state championships before heading to the senior ranks, winning the female board, finishing second in the Under-14 ironperson and third in the board relay.
Amazingly, it was Kayla's fourth successive State board title.
"Kayla has finished her junior career now and to win four straight board titles is a fantastic effort," de Carle said.
Capping off a successful junior State titles, Sawtell finished fourth in the marchpast.
Sawtell's haul from the senior titles one week later was good enough to rank the club the fourth-best country club.
"For a team of eight, it was a very good result," de Carle said.
"But I expected them to do well, they have trained very hard since the end of July.
"They have been training four days a week on the board and ironperson and at least three pool session a week."
Sisters Courtney and Bonnie Hancock were again the star performers for Sawtell.
Courtney, the current Australian Under-16 female ironperson champion, led the way with gold in the Under-17 ironperson and gold in the Under-17 surf swim.
"I was really excited with that," she said.
"Winning the national title last year gave me a lot of confidence, but all the other girls were a lot fitter this year."
Bonnie could count herself unlucky not to come home with a gold in the Under-15 board, leading the final to the beach, before stumbling and being overtaken on the sand.
This weekend, Courtney, Bonnie and Kayla will fly Sawtell's flag at the National titles at Kurrowah.
"Any gold medals will be a fantastic result," de Carle said.
"Courtney has done well at Aussies and proven herself before, and Bonnie is certainly a big chance in the board and ironperson.
"Kayla is going up for her first nationals, but her and Bonnie are expected to do well in the board rescue together."
For Courtney, her main goal will be to make the finals.
"I just want to get to the finals in my three events (board, ironperson and surf swim)," she said.
"Anything else will be a bonus."