State selections herald dawn of new era for Hunter

THREE Hunter competitors have gained state selection but that number is set to rise in coming years going on results from the NSW Interbranch Championships on the weekend.

Justin McMorland, Karly Falzon and Jessica Collins were picked following the titles at Black Head, near Forster.

McMorland, from Caves Beach, won the under-15 ironman and Falzon (Catherine Hill Bay) took out the under-15 female board and was third in the ironwoman as Hunter finished fourth in the overall branch pointscore. Redhead talent Collins is on a European holiday but was selected on her performances for the Australian under-20 team at the world titles in Adelaide last month.

The trio will represent NSW at the national interbranch titles in Sydney on January 21-22.

Collins was part of the team last year but clubmate Isak Costello, Swansea-Belmont's Sam Earp and Cooks Hill sprinter Hamish Lorang are not returning to the side.

Earp, who captained the national under-20 squad at worlds, withdrew from the Hunter team. Costello failed to fire at Black Head but Hunter water coach Craig Coates said Lorang was an unlucky omission after coming second to different competitors in the under-17 sprint and flags events.

Hunter finished 143 points behind traditional rivals Central Coast at Black Head despite their best performance in beach competitions at the annual event.

Coates said every Hunter athlete performed well but mistakes and bad luck in tough conditions played their part.

"The seas became a big factor towards the end of the carnival," Coates said.

"There were some big nor'east winds and if you were in the wrong line trying to get out past the break, you got smashed."

Most of Hunter's best results came in the under 14 and younger age groups, pointing to strong NSW representation in the next few years.

The state team's youngest age group is under 15s.

Catherine Hill Bay's Lily Costello was the standout for Hunter, winning the under-14 female board and swim as well as finishing second in the board rescue with clubmate Jessica McPeak.

Another Catherine Hill Bay product, Jye Lehman, won the under-14 male board, was second in the ironman and third in the board rescue with Hayden Copping.

Hunter's other gold came in the under 13 cameron relay with Joel Nicholson, Maya Stewart, Lachlan Stanford and Chelsey Kolokolow.

■ Caves Beach white under-23s men are the only undefeated crew in the Peters Surf Boat Series after scraping through round four at Soldiers Beach on Sunday.

Caves finished equal first with Stockton and head to MacMasters Beach for round five on Sunday.

Tea Gardens/Hawks Nest masters men were unbeaten but but finished equal second with Soldiers behind Terrigal on Sunday.

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