Stevens, Mason win major titles at Otago awards

Bronwyn Stevens playing at the Bowls Dunedin open women's singles final in January. Photo: Wayne...
Bronwyn Stevens playing at the Bowls Dunedin open women's singles final in January. Photo: Wayne Parsons

It came as little surprise when Bronwyn Stevens (North East Valley) and Oliver Mason (Forbury Park) were awarded the major gongs at the Bowls Dunedin annual awards held at the Taieri Bowling Club last night.

Stevens won the Millie Khan Memorial for top female bowler of the year and Mason the Stan Seear Trophy for top male bowler of the year.

A dual international, Stevens represented New Zealand in Commonwealth and Oceania powerlifting competitions.

Oliver Mason
Oliver Mason
Following a silver medal at the world powerlifting championships in Finland in 2015, she turned her attention to lawn bowls along with husband Roger Stevens.

Following a string of successes in the sport representing Invercargill's Te Rangi Club, the couple, who own a small lifestyle block in western Southland, transferred to the Dunedin centre when Bronwyn was selected to represent New Zealand in the national development team in a transtasman test on the Gold Coast in late 2019.

Success in her new chosen sport of bowls has continued despite the disruption of Covid.

Along with North East Valley clubmate Sarah Scott, she is in the mix for a second transtasman test at Queensland’s Tamborine Mountain Club in early June. Both are also in the Bowls New Zealand Development team from which players will be selected for the Birmingham Commonwealth Games.

Stevens and Scott got the 2021-22 season away to the best possible start when they won the prestigious Grand Casino open pairs in early October.

While work commitments prevented Scott from contesting all four Bowls Dunedin open championships mid-season, Stevens rose to the challenge and contested all four finals, winning the open singles and open triples titles.

Also earlier in the season Stevens gained selection in the South Island team to play the North Island and was a member of the Bowls Dunedin inter-centre team that finished runner-up at the national inter-centre championship.

The 2021-22 season was ground-breaking for Forbury Park's Mason, with his clean sweep of all four open men's titles - the first player to achieve the distinction. He also finished third in the 2x4x2 mixed pairs.

His dominance of men's competition over the season enabled him to win the Dunedin Centre's bowler of the year crown by 15 points, the clearest ever winner of the award.

Mason's game reached another level this season when playing alongside New Zealand Development squad member and clubmate Sheldon Bagrie-Howley in the open pairs and triples competition. The two titles brought about his fifth centre title and his gold star award.

The influence of Bagrie-Howley on his game then brought about open singles and open fours titles. His skipping in the open fours title had the mark of a craftsman at work.

After winning his first centre title in 2019, followed by two in 2020, Mason's bag of all four open titles in the 2021-22 season remains one to savour, and a big future is tipped for him.

Major awards and recognition at last night’s Bowls Dunedin annual awards:

Millie Khan Memorial woman bowler of the year: Bronwyn Stevens (North East Valley) .

Stan Seear Trophy male bowler of the year: Oliver Mason (Forbury Park).

Birmingham Commonwealth Games 2022 lead coach: Mike Kernaghan (North East Valley).

Bowls New Zealand high performance squads: Open - Keanu Darby, Sarah Scott, Bronwyn Stevens. Para - B6-B8 Carolyn Crawford (St Clair). Para - B1-B4 Kerrin Wheeler (North East Valley).

Winners national open championships 2022 disabled: B5-8 Pairs - Carolyn Crawford (St Clair) and Julie O'Connell (Waverley).

Bowls New Zealand senior bowls 3Five: North East Valley

Ballard Brooch: Barbara Archer, Jean Young, Helen Carman, Jenny Dhyrberg (Taieri).

May Valentine (most improved senior player): Vicki Robinson (North East Valley).

George Payton Memorial (club with best average ranking in all men's events): North East Valley

Jean Shelton Trophy (club with best average ranking in all women's events): Green Island.

Patrons Trophy (club with best average ranking in all men's and women's events): North East Valley.

Bars to gold stars: Sarah Scott (North East Valley), 10 titles; Mary Stevenson (Outram) 10 titles; Jean Young (Taieri) 10 titles.

Gold stars: Oliver Mason (Forbury Park) 7 titles; Jonty Horwell (Kaikorai) 5 titles; Grant Stumbles (Forbury Park) 5 titles; Duane White (Forbury Park) 5 titles.

By Wayne Parsons

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