Kira Dowling is no stranger to the Astley Cup and come this year's edition, she's ready to face Bathurst High Campus' biggest rival in the opening round.
Dowling and the rest of her Bathurst contingent are headed away to face bitter rivals Orange High School, with the year 11 student named in the squads for both netball and tennis.
Dowling said the Astley Cup is a special occasion for all students and teachers, providing a great atmosphere and buzz throughout the entire school.
"I think it's just a really great time for our school to come together," she said.
"I think all the years are mixed amongst different teams and there's a good atmosphere around the school. Whether it's the kids or teachers, everyone gets really excited.
"There's a really good atmosphere when we play here in Bathurst especially. It's really fun and a really good time."
No doubt there will be a heap of ex-students and staff that will be on hand to watch Bathurst High compete in this year's Astley Cup.
Dowling said this a sign of how much the competition means to the local community.
"I think it shows how much people in the community care about the Astley Cup," she said.
"It's a big competition across the whole Central West. It brings more publicity to our school and it's a really good opportunity to mix with everyone that use to play and see what it meant for them."
Dowling first started competing in the Astley Cup back in 2019, when she was a year eight student playing tennis and eventually joined the netball team.
There's no doubting Orange's strength when it comes to netball - they're the undisputed queens of the sport in the region - but Dowling is hoping Bathurst can remain competitive with Orange.
"I think we're pretty even this year," she said.
"We've got a pretty young team coming through but I think this year our squad will be building for next year. We have a mainly year 10 and 11 team, which means we won't lose anyone. I think that'll give us an advantage going into next year.
"I think our plan is to keep it close, rather than getting flogged out of the park like previous years. We'll try and keep the score as close as we can."
And when asked which school she loves to beat the most, Dowling was quick to answer.
"Definitely Orange. I think it's a big rivalry with Orange," she said.
"Dubbo's good but obviously we've had a good run with Orange.
"Orange haven't won it in a while so hopefully we can keep stop them from winning."
Dubbo High School was handed the Astley Cup trophy, even though a day of sports between Bathurst and Orange was ultimately cancelled due to adverse weather.
"Technically [Dubbo] won it, but I don't think they deserved to win it," Dowling laughed.
"But hey, we'll beat them this year and get it back."
The Astley Cup will get underway on Thursday, June 16, with tennis (9.15am), athletics (11am), girls soccer (12.45pm) and boys soccer (2.15pm).
Play will continue on Friday, June 17, with basketball (9.30am), netball (10.45am), rugby league (12.15pm) and hockey (2pm).
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