SQUAD GOALDS: Under 13s dominate their netball division
NETBALL: They had their backs against the wall from the outset, but Gladstone's under-13 netball team have returned from the recent State Age Championship as Division 5 winners.
A record 233 teams, comprising more than 2330 players, competed at the State Age which was held at the Pine Rivers Netball Association on Brisbane's northside from July 5-9.
The carnival is a competition for under-12 to U15 age groups.
The Gladstone girls were randomly placed in Pool H for the carnival.
It turned out to be a very difficult pool, but there was a silver lining of success as U13 coach Corinne Wright explained.
"We were placed in a pool where we finished fifth and those teams who beat us ended up going on to win Division 1, 2, 3, 4 and we won Division 5," Wright said.
"We got put in a really difficult pool but I think that worked well for us."
Gladstone started their Pool H campaign with a win over Redcliffe, but then lost three in a row against sides who would eventually win their respective play-off pools.
Victory against Bundaberg and a draw against top Brisbane outfit Metropolitan Districts saw Gladstone finish fifth in Pool H.
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The girls then joined the 33rd-39th play-off division to determine their overall position and came out on top to claim 33rd place and winners of the fifth division.
"I think regional teams do well in that second part of the carnival - once we get put into a pool where we're ranked accordingly," Wright added.
She said the feat was made even more special considering the small pool of player talent available in Gladstone.
"The (Downey Park) coach saw us and she put things into perspective - 'how many girls did you have trial for you in Gladstone?' - 16 girls came to our trials for the final 10," she said.
"They had 273 girls turn up for two teams of 10 so, when you put it into perspective like that, I think Gladstone did so well."
Wright also credited the extra fitness work, including CrossFit, the girls had been doing prior to the championships.