Aiden Takarua, Jesse Russell, Taylor Horn & Colin Williams after qualifying with four straight wins.
At 10:13am on Friday 26th February, the second day of round robin play in the Summerset Nation Fours, the team of Taylor Horn, Colin WIlliams, Jesse Russell and Aiden Takarua had already qualified for post-section play.
They had won three straight games at Hawea Bowling Club the day before, and on the Friday morning their opposition had already conceded after 12 of the scheduled 18 ends. Such was the skill of this formidable young team.
Between them, their combined age is only 93 (Horn is 23, Williams is 25, Russell is 24 and Takarua is 21). Heck … there are plenty of bowlers around who are 93 years old … themselves. They are probably the youngest team in the 2021 Summerset National Fours tournament.
Despite their youth, they have a surprising amount of experience between them. Russell has been playing bowls the longest for 16 years … Takarua 15 years, Horn 13 years and Williams just 6 years. But even then, there could well be bowlers in the tournament who have amassed that 50 years total experience themselves!
They’re here in Central Otago as a composite team … over the years they’ve found themselves playing together or against each other in school or junior competitions, and more recently in ‘senior’ national events. Horn and Russell both play out of Cambridge Central Bowling Club (although Horn lives in Te Awamutu), and Williams and Takarua play out of the Point Chevalier Bowling Club in Auckland.
They’re already on the road to accumulating bowling honours. Horn has 10 centre titles under his belt, and 7 club titles. Takarua has 5 centre and 10 club titles. Russell 2 and 8. And Williams 2 and 3.
Astonishingly, Horn has already won a National Singles title … 2 years ago in Auckland.
“Jesse and I came runner-up in the Fours at Taieri a few years ago,” adds Horn. “With Sheldon Bagrie-Howley and Seamus Curtin.”
“Maybe that’s why they (Seamus and Sheldon) dumped us!” he laughs.
Four young twenty-somethings on the road together still need a little ‘managing’, and travelling with them is Takarua’s girlfriend, Zoologist Mesha White. She’s the honorary team manger, the sober driver, the sideline cheerleader, and the sensible person that makes sure that young blokes are doing what they should be doing at a tournament … and not doing what they shouldn’t.
“I’m not their dietitian though … they can eat and drink what they like.” says Mesha. “I’m not their mother.”
It’s all working well.
However, whether it will continue to be seen to have worked well will depend on the result at the end of the tournament. “If we win, I’m sure we’ll be playing together again in the future,” smiles Horn. “If we don’t, who knows!!”