10 May 2023

Cooktown takes gold at underwater hockey titles

| Sarah Martin
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COOKTOWN’S junior underwater hockey players have again proven they can mingle with the best, taking out the 2023 North Queensland championship.

The team, comprising Jett and Cruze Ryder, Eli Carroll, Yindii and Caleb Kamholtz, Emmett Dukes, Letton Deeral, Jono Coventry and Kristin, Josh and Julian Slykerman, proved too strong for their competition.

“Overall, they dominated the whole competition,” said Cooktown Crocs Underwater Hockey coach Scott Thomason.

“They got the gold medal, playing Cairns in the final and won 7-2.”

Thomason said it was a great learning experience for the younger members of the team playing in a high level competition alongside some of the more experience players.

“It was awesome, we have a whole heap of younger new kids coming through and it was good to have the older guys there to mentor them,” he said.

“We’re also used to a very shallow pool up here, but down there it’s two metres deep and has a fast tile bottom, so it’s a great learning experience.”

The Crocs also fielded a seniors team in the open competition, with Thomason putting on the flippers for a game, alongside children Sienna and Rocco, Natalie James, Hudson Dagge, Tom Logan, Amber Frame, Sam Ryder and Jett Ryder and Eli Carroll, who stepped up from the junior team.

“Each club was also allowed to import two players, and we had Gary Rosewell and Dina Vitorri,” Thomason said.

“Gary is an absolute legend, he’s played in the Australian elite men’s team, played in seven worlds, is an absolute machine, one of the most experienced players in underwater hockey and Dina is the captain of the Queensland elite women’s side.”

Thomason said it was a testament to the Cooktown club’s skills that Gary and Dina “jumped at the chance” to join their team for the titles.

“It was a super close game in the final, we were right in it to the end, but got beaten 1-nil,” he said.

“Last year, Cairns beat us 7-nil, and they have won the NQ Titles seven years’ running. We really played amazingly well.”

The Cooktown juniors will take their gold medal and go back to training, with their eyes set firmly on the 2024 world underwater hockey championships.

The road to worlds begins in July with the try-outs held in Cairns, and the Asia Pacific Cup in September.

“When it comes to competing, we travel all over the place,” Thomason said.

“We’re just lucky we have such a great community to help the kids out, the businesses and organisations like the RSL, hardware store and bowls club are super amazing for getting behind the kids and making all this happen.”

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