ARARAT - For the second year running talented Ararat Rats juniors Zander Laidlaw and Tiffany Boatman are the toast of the Wimmera Football League and Wimmera Netball Association under-17 divisions.
At Monday night's junior best and fairest vote count Laidlaw won the Ted King Medal for a second straight season, while Boatman was named the WNA's joint 17 and under best and fairest winner along with Dimboola's Billie-Jo Barber.
Angie Stoneman capped off a great night for the Rats by winning the 15 and under B's top award.
Laidlaw took back-to-back honours in thrilling fashion, polling the maximum three votes in the final round against Dimboola to win the medal by one vote over Minyip-Murtoa's Jack Boschen.
The under-17 captain only made the choice to return to the junior lineup late last week after playing four senior matches with the Rats.
Joint under 17s coach Alister Williamson said he was very proud of Laidlaw's achievement.
"It was good decision by him to come back from the seniors and he played magnificently in that game last week," he said.
"Zander is a really good footballer. What he did during his time in the ones is proof he is a readymade senior player and I have no doubt he'll play a lot of senior footy in years to come."
Williamson said Laidlaw's best on field attributes are his physical strength, team orientated play and his leadership.
The victory was made even more remarkable considering Laidlaw played just 12 of a possible 16 under-17 matches and had to overcome stress fractures in his back early in the season.
"It was a slow process for him coming off a back injury," Williamson said.
"He followed the medical advice to the letter, only playing half games for three or four matches to get himself right. He sacrificed a fair bit to get there but it paid off in the end."
Tiffany Boatman also survived a thrilling finish in the WNA 17 and under vote count to be crowned joint-best and fairest with Dimboola's Billie-Jo Barber.
Boatman led the count by one vote heading into the final round, with the Rats' shooter polling another vote while Barber collected two to be tied on 33 votes apiece.
Joint-coach Donna Spalding said Boatman has taken her game to another level in 2013.
"This year she has certainly shone and improved even further," she said.
"She had a change in position at the start of this year and has adapted really well to that.
"For pretty much all of Tiffany's time with Ararat she has played in defence and I think it was probably always a dream and desire of hers to have a go in goals.
"This year we were short in the goal area and we made a decision to give her a go and she has improved, developed and done her job every week."
Spalding said Boatman's accuracy in the goal circle was extremely impressive with the sharp shooter having a conversion rate of 70-80 percent.
The versatile player finished the home and away season with 660 goals to her name, the highest in the 17 and under competition.
"She is actually probably one of the most versatile netballers that I've coached in that you can put her in a position and she will do the job," Spalding said.
"Her vertical jump is unbelievable. Balls that look like going out of court from inaccurate passing she will snavel in. Her agility, accuracy and desire to improve are also some of her biggest strengths."
Angie Stoneman in her first year of Wimmera netball was the clear winner of the 15 and under B vote count.
Coach Kira Payne said Stoneman is a versatile player who found herself playing at both ends of the court this season.
"Goal attack was Angie's main position and to her credit she played well with many team mates in the ring," she said.
"Her main attributes would be her long arms, as she has the ability to give her opposition a false sense of space when passing as she can read the ball well and intercept.
"Angie is a great netballer and it is a privilege to coach her as she is a talented player. She has had a fantastic year and it is great to see that she has been recognised for that."