By Greg Gulas
Two area high school bowling teams will compete in today’s Division I district bowling tournaments, but five more individual qualifiers will try to realize their state tournament hopes at Roseland Lanes in Oakwood Village.
The state tournanents are March 4-5 at Wayne Webb’s Columbus Bowl.
The Boardman boys (3,839) finished third, just 20 pins away from Nordonia (3859) and eight pins off the pace of Stow-Munroe Falls at last weekend’s sectional at McKinley Lanes.
Tavish Burd (652) of Warren Harding, who copped top individual honors, Howland’s Zach Campbell (621) and Canfield’s Andrew Letscher (607) — a three-time state participant — also qualified.
The Harding girls (3,484) rolled away from runner-up Stow-Munroe Falls (3,348) by 136 pins, and easily outdistanced third-place Twinsburg (3,148) while individually, Boardman’s Alexis Grim (591) was nine pins away from Emily Byles (Kent Roosevelt) for top honors and Alysha Harris (523) of Austintown Fitch, who finished fifth overall at sectionals, also qualified.
“All we are looking for is to be that kid that gets one more chance to ride his favorite ride at the amusement park,” Spartans head coach Mike Dohar said.
Boardman finished second to Austintown Fitch in the All-American Conference, Red Tier this past season and used its last regular-season match versus Green as a tuneup for today.
The Spartan boys last qualified for state in 2010, yet still seek their first ever district championship.
Hoping to deliver that initial crown will be Brian Stanchin (208.5), team average leader, Sean Sullivan (199.9), Michael Parise (189.5), Bobby Morrell (181.5), Chase Felger (178.2), Nate Needham (174.5), Ben Burkey (174.2) and Seth Lucansky (135.2).
“The All-American Conference is well represented in both divisions and on both the boy’s and girls’ side, which is a feather in the league’s cap,” Spartans assistant coach Kevin Randolph said. “It just shows you how competitive the league is from top to bottom.”
Burd, just a sophomore, was sectional champion for the second consecutive year. Campbell was runner-up while Letscher finished fourth and is eyeing a fourth state trip.
“It’s a bittersweet time for me in that I will be at district, but would love to be there with my team,” Burd said. “I felt like I bowled well and was right there during sectionals, but didn’t know the outcome until the end. The key at district will be to keep my head in the game at all times. Physically it’s an easy game, but mentally you just have to remain focused.”
Letscher, who has also made four district appearances, knows how hard it is to get to one state tournament, yet alone four in consecutive years.
He was a freshman on Canfield’s state championship team in 2013, earned honorable mention honors and finished 13th overall as a sophomore and was All-Ohio last year when he finished third overall.
“It’s a very special feeling to be going after a fourth state appearance because not many can make that claim,” said Letscher, who will attend the University of Pikeville (Ky.) in the fall. “Having already bowled there gives you a bit of an advantage, however, bowling is different in that you have good and bad days. You’re never guaranteed anything, so I have to be on top of my game the entire time.”
The Harding girls will look to Taylor Arquette, Constance Clauss, Brianna Nolen, Emily Oswalt, Ketelyn Daughtery, Natalie Hall, Elexis Moore and Elizabeth Jones to get them to state.
“We want to win this weekend, but there will be a lot of excellent teams in the tournament,” Harding head coach John Nolen said. “At sectionals, Stow-Munroe Falls took the lead after the second Baker games, but we took it back in the third and were able to pull away at the end.
“For us to get to state we have to bowl well, it’s as simple as that. If we bowl like we are capable, then we’ll move on.”