BOTH Ararat teams competing at the 2014 Tri-State Games in Murray Bridge, South Australia have returned with their best results yet.
The Ararat Pumas from Pinnacle Services finished fourth overall (out of 34 teams) on the medal tally with 48 medals, with the highlight being second in all track and field events.
The Ararat Braves team from Manna Gums Nursery and Wood 'n' Crete Products (Ararat Day Programs) also proved successful with each of its seven participants receiving a medal and the team finishing first overall in indoor sports, which included darts, pool, basketball throwing and various others activities.
"That is quite a rare feat for such a small team, so everyone was very excited," Ararat Day Programs manager Cheryle Stapleton said.
Pinnacle Services' team manager Daryl Baldock said all of his 13 athletes performed to the best of their ability, with Ben Langley, Justin Morgan and Kevin Maher the standout performers with six medals each from their six events.
"Those three were six from six, then we had a couple of others with four, so overall it was a terrific effort. They all did a really great job," he said.
"The improvement has really been driven by the guys themselves, especially this year.
"They were determined and wanted to have a fair crack at the South Australian guys and they certainly did that on the Tuesday at athletics we only just finished behind them overall.
"Ben Langley actually beat their top athlete twice and he was so pumped! Then Aaron Taylor beat their other top guy in one race and ran second to him in another.
"We hadn't done a lot of training in track and field, but it was just the fact that they were keen to do well that they took it on themselves."
The Ararat Braves' team was made up of a variety of competitors from 24 to 67 years of age and included new athletes and ones that had experienced the Tri-State Games in the past.
Ms Stapleton said Ararat Day Programs tries to give its clients the opportunity to attend the event by rotating participants every two years.
"Being the second year for most of the guys they understand how it works and everything else," she said.
"There had been plenty of training and even if it wasn't with us, one older gentleman was doing swimming practice down at the YMCA the whole year through and already now he is looking forward to the event next year."
Mr Baldock and Ms Stapleton agreed that in the next two years more Ararat athletes would have the opportunity to take part in the sporting event, with the 2015/16 Tri-State Games being held in Horsham.
"Next year will be wonderful in Horsham, being so close to home," Ms Stapleton said.
"We will be able to take a lot more competitors even if not everyone can stay over, it means we can still take some people up throughout the day."
With the cost of attending the Tri-State Games quite high, including funding required for travel, accommodation and special needs arrangements, both Pinnacle Services and Ararat Day Programs acknowledged the valued support of local businesses and sponsors who contributed to fundraising efforts in the lead up to the competition.
Mr Baldock and Ms Stapleton both thanked respectively staff members Faye Chalmers, Cindy Dowling and John 'Robbo' Robertson (Pinnacle Services) and Colin Prior snr, Kylie Wilson and Paula Dent (Ararat Day Programs) for their assistance during the week-long event.
Mr Baldock said the count down is already on to next year's games.
"As soon as we get back from Christmas they start talking about the Tri State Games for next year," he said.
"The social side of it is nearly as important to them, if not more so, than competing."
The Ararat Braves' photo will feature in a later edition of The Ararat Advertiser.