Finley High School sporting stars Sascha Jones and Ben Ashley-Cooper have received prestigious Riverina Blue awards for outstanding performance in sport.
The secondary school athletes were presented with the accolades at a presentation in Wagga Wagga on Friday.
These special awards are presented by the Riverina School Sports Association to students who have represented their region in a state team and are role models to fellow students.
Sascha received her 2017 NSW Blue for swimming, after winning gold at state level.
‘‘I’m really excited and privileged to win this award,’’ she said.
‘‘I grew up hearing about the Blue awards as my Pop won two for AFL and athletics. It was always a goal to try and get one.
‘‘To say I was excited when I found out I was receiving a Blue is an understatement. I couldn’t wait to go tell my Pop ... he was delighted.
‘‘There were some amazing athletes at the presentation and it was wonderful to hear of the successes of so many other young athletes from our area.
‘‘It just goes to show that country kids can achieve anything they set their minds to.
‘‘It was great to share the experience with another Finley High student in Ben.’’
Sascha is in Adelaide competing in the Pacific School Games this week.
She completed her 4x50m medley team relay on Monday, with the talented swimmer also preparing for the 50m backstroke this Friday and the 4x50m freestyle relay and 10x50m freestyle relay on Saturday.
‘‘I have had a big year in the pool and feel incredibly privileged to enjoy the experiences that I’ve been presented with in the last 12 months,’’ Sascha said.
‘‘My highlights would include making the 100m backstroke finals at Age Nationals, winning the Victorian State 100m backstroke title and receiving gold in 50m backstroke at NSW All Schools to qualify for the Pacific School Games.
‘‘I’ve already qualified for Age Nationals in Sydney for two events ... the 50m freestyle and 100m backstroke.
‘‘My preparation over the summer is focused on this event (Nationals) and seeing if I can make any more qualification times.’’
Ben Ashley-Cooper received his 2017 NSW Blue for AFL, after representing NSW at the Under 15s National Carnival.
Ben’s citation for receiving the award read as follows:
‘‘In recognition of his ongoing success in AFL, Ben Ashley-Cooper is awarded a Riverina Blue for 2017.
‘‘A dedicated and passionate sportsman, Ben has continued to represent Finley High School across a range of sporting disciplines. His representation of the school and Riverina in both swimming and athletics for the previous three years is indicative of his commitment, positive approach to learning and exceptional sporting conduct.
‘‘Playing for Riverina Murray at the State Carnival in Albury, Ben was elected captain of the squad, proving the difference in some close matches. Demonstrating his adaptability, Ben played in a variety of positions, showing great skills in each and was the major ball winner for the team.
‘‘On the back of this performance, Ben was selected for the NSW side for the National Carnival in Perth. Adopting all team practices without hesitation, he competed to the best of his ability at this elite level.
‘‘A positive role model, Ben is a likeable and mature young man who has deservedly earned the praise and respect of his coaches.
‘‘For both his achievements on the field, and conduct off it, Ben is a worthy recipient of a Riverina Blue and is to be congratulated on the praise and accolades directed his way.’’