Has Wesley sport ever been any stronger than it is right now? This year we rewrote APS record books in a remarkable series of dual Premiership victories, with both our boys’ and girls’ teams taking out the Premiership Cups in Athletics, in Cross Country, and in Tennis. Paul Munn reports.
Three dual Premiership Cups. It’s a stunning trifecta, and all the more remarkable given how hotly contested the Premiership Cups are across the APS fraternity each and every season.
For our ascendant Athletics teams, the signs were there last year. The boys broke a 75-year drought by taking out the 2022 Premiership trophy, and our third-placed girls were again finding the form that had secured them a seven-season winning streak from 2012 to 2018.
Those signs certainly helped charge the Lakeside Stadium atmosphere for Team Wesley on that mid-October Premiership Saturday. ‘The possibility for success challenged all our athletes to push themselves in every event, producing a lot of amazing efforts throughout the day,’ says Athletics Captain, Sophia. ‘The moments prior to the announcement of the winners were filled with excitement and nerves, knowing that we had given it our all. When the boys’ win was announced, it was met with pure joy and excitement from our team and supporters.’
The emotion was only amplified after the announcement the girls had won too. ‘Seeing the triumphant and ecstatic reactions of our coaching staff and athletes reaffirmed the gravity of what we had achieved,’ she says. ‘Witnessing our head coach Tim hold both trophies with a massive smile on his face is something I think every one of us will remember forever.’
Athletes: Louisa (Year 12) and Evan (Year 9)
We were always going to be in the running for the cup in Cross Country this year. Wesley’s dominance in APS competition is indisputable, with 11 Premiership wins in a row now for the girls, and seven in a row for our boys.
‘I'm equally ecstatic and relieved to have won our 11th premiership in a row,’ says Girls Cross Country Captain, Louisa. ‘My teammates have shown tremendous commitment, effort and sportsmanship this season. Maintaining our premiership streak despite the growing competition was not an easy task; however, we united as a team and it helped us rise to the challenge.'
Boys' Co-Captain, Wolfgang says that winning this premiership in his final year feels particularly special. The winning feeling was something he used to motivate the youngest and eldest members of his team. ‘The cup was the big goal for the season,’ Wolfgang said. ‘Both myself and my Co-Captain, Jhye, were injured during the biggest round against Caulfield Grammar, but our young runners really stepped up and secured the trophy this season. It shows the incredible depth of our team. Hopefully that gives them the fuel to continue to win in the future too.’
The quiet force behind it all is Wesley’s Head of Athletics and Cross Country, Tim O’Shaughnessy. He’s known for being an outstanding listener, and his sense of humour puts many at ease in those nerve-wracking few minutes before a big race. Both Cross Country and Athletics have thrived under the guidance of Tim and his dedicated coaches.
'I have immense pride and respect for the hard work and dedication of both the Girls’ and Boys’ Cross Country teams,' Tim said. ‘This win shows the depth and strength of our Cross Country runners and their high levels of commitment.’ Of the triumph in Athletics, he said, ‘I was so immensely proud of our boys’ team last year, but for both teams to win the premiership this year, it really is an incredible achievement and one for the record books!’
When Tim first took the helm in 2009, Wesley had a strong history as a leader in Girls' Cross Country, having secured the 1997 – 1999 Premierships and then the 2001 – 2004 Premierships, but they had not won a Premiership in five years. By 2012, he’d turned it around for the girls, and the boys would follow soon enough.
Cross country: Khushi (Year 10)
Head Coach, Tim O'Shaughnessy, proudly carries the 2023 Athletics Premiership Cups.
Now to double number three. Just like last season, Wesley Tennis left nothing on the court this year, breaking both College and APS Sport record books with back-to-back premiership wins for both our girls’ and boys’ teams. We’ve achieved remarkable success over the past five years, with the girls' team winning four premierships - the last three in a row, and the boys' team taking home two premierships in two years.
Head of Wesley Tennis, Lauren Breadmore (OW2001), is in awe of their performance. ‘We are incredibly proud of our athletes and the passion, dedication and maturity they have brought onto the court each week’ she said. ‘The success Wesley Tennis has achieved is a result of students, coaches and parents working collaboratively as a team to achieve our goals.’
The players themselves were elated with the wins. ‘Last year was the first time that Wesley Tennis has achieved a dual premiership, with both the boys’ and girls’ tennis teams winning at the same time,’ said Boys' Firsts Captain, Oliver. ‘We had never gone back-to-back, dual either, so this was a real motivator for us.'
Winning the premiership three times in a row ‘feels incredible’ for Girls' Firsts Captain, Madeleine. ‘This team feels like one big family and being able to share this experience with such motivated and determined girls is a dream come true,’ she said. ‘The last match was really emotional, not just for those of us in Year 12, which shows the extent of the relationships that have been built.'
Oliver agrees: ‘The culture on the team was great. Having fun with players from all year levels at training and on match days helped to keep morale high, but being able to flip the switch and be fully focused during training and execute on game days was crucial to our success this season.’
Our stunning sporting success this year shows what can happen when our young athletes’ devotion to the cause is matched by the unwavering support of our parent group and, of course, that other vital group in the collaborative mix – our coaches. Madeleine probably speaks for all of her peers when she says, ‘I’ve never met a more dedicated group of people. The coaches are so invested in our development as both players and individuals. I want to thank them for seeing my potential and pushing me to achieve my very best.’
Tennis: Helena (Year 12) and Oliver (Year 12)
Historic win for Boys' Firsts Basketball
2023 was also historic for the Boys' Firsts Basketball Team, who won the APS premiership for the first time since 2010. This is only the fourth time since basketball was introduced by the APS in 1991 that the Wesley Boys' Firsts have won the title.