Youth to guide IGS resurgence
THREE year 11 students are striving to take Ipswich Grammar School back to the top of the prestigious GPS competition in their respective sports this autumn.
GPS cross country champion Allen Dennis, emerging tennis ace Louis Baker and aspiring professional football player Cooper Nichols have been enlisted to lead the red and white resurgence.
Director of Sport and Activities Nigel Greive said a thorough process had been undertaken, which assessed the candidates according to merit. It was a case of if you were ready and you were good enough, then you were the best man for the job.
As proven individual performers, the accomplished trio bear the responsibility of uniting their teammates and restoring IGS to the halcyon years after lacklustre results in recent times.
Dennis took out the hotly contested Open Division while still only in year 10.
After IGS finished eighth in Cross Country last year, he is looking for improved outcomes across the board.
The defending titleholder will accept nothing less than a top three finish when he traverses the Limestone Park course on May 29.
For the team, he considers fourth or fifth to be a realistic target.
"This year the team is looking a lot stronger," he said.
"The younger age groups are starting to pull through. Jack Partrige should do really well in the under 16s and Cooper Bell could win or finish top three in the under 15s."
Competing since the age of 12, the endurance merchant said the experienced coaches at IGS had spurred him on to reach new heights. They introduced him to specialist mentor Jayden Russ and the pair formed a dynamic combination, with Dennis simply getting better and better.
"Before I came to IGS, I finished 11th at states and I had never been to nationals," he said.
"In under 14s, I finished 7th at states and made my first nationals team. This year, I came third at nationals for my age."
Nervous but ready for the challenge, Dennis said it was a privilege to be selected to lead his school in his chosen sport.
As did Baker, who shares a similar story of accelerated progression after linking with IGS in year eight and catching the eye of school head coach and old boy Lincoln Remar.
"They took me from being a recreational player to being competitive at state and national tournaments," he said.
"I wouldn't be here without (IGS coach) Dave Glinster."
Taking on the position of tennis captain, he steps into the shoes of the likes of 12-time grand slam winner Roy Emerson and rising Australian Blake Ellis.
Typically a tennis stronghold in an extremely difficult league stacked with the cream from Australia and overseas, Baker hopes to keep those traditions alive.
"We have a proud history in tennis and it is a real honour to be able to lead the team for the next two years," he said. "We are in a rebuilding phase.''
Last year, the 1st IV came eighth but with Baker at the helm and promising athletes in the line-up like Queensland's number one 14-year-old, Kaito Nelson, expect it to shock some of its more fancied opponents in seasons ahead.
Reaching the firsts represents the pinnacle of many budding sportsmen's careers to date.
Though proud of these students and their achievements Greive said IGS placed a greater emphasis on participation than winning.
"We do a lot of work around participation," he said. "Ninety-six per cent do one sport and 69 per cent do two or more. We are one of the smallest schools numerically, so many of our boys back up across a large number of sports. It's a big part of our culture."
Greive said the young men were encouraged to find and pursue their passions, whatever they may be.
"It is not all about the apex teams and firsts," he said.
"It really is about every boy finding a place in his chosen sport. We have a huge participation rate. It doesn't matter what background they come from, the boys just want to compete for their mates."
He said the extensive sporting and extra-curricular program was a point of difference for the school, and a source of pride for staff and students.