Falcons better prepared for state’s atmosphere


WILMINGTON — Coach Tyler Hayslip’s words flowed easily, but, make no mistake about it, there was purpose with each syllable.

In the aftermath of last year’s OHSAA Division II Boys Bowling Championship tournament, Hayslip knew his Clinton-Massie boys bowling team had experienced something they’d not seen before.

Sure, it was still bowling.

And there were still 10 pins at the end of each lane.

And the object was still to knock down all 10 pins with one or two opportunities.

But Hayslip knew his Falcons weren’t at their best because the state tournament was so different than anything they’d been part of in the past.

This time, this season, come 10:45 a.m. Friday at High Performance Lanes in Columbus, the Falcons will be ready.

“Understanding how the show goes, the routine,” Hayslip said when asked about being better prepared in 2024. “They have an idea of what goes on.”

Clinton-Massie will begin competition Friday on lanes 21-22 in the 50-lane house in northern Columbus. This is the first year the state tournament will be held at HP Lanes.

Doors open at 9 a.m. Friday with practice for all bowlers set to begin at 10:30 a.m.

Each team will bowl three regular games and three baker games in the opening round. That will determine the eight teams advancing to match play but also the individual champion.

Last year, Mason Keck was the state runnerup with a 677 series and the Falcons were the No. 8 seed and advanced to match play. The Falcons bowed out of the tournament with a 3-1 loss to Coldwater in the head to head round.

While Hayslip said without hesitation Coldwater was the best team his squad faced all season, he knew there was more to that match than throwing a bowling ball.

“Their fan base was like nothing I have ever seen before at a bowling tournament,” Hayslip said after last year’s tournament.

Said Ian Adams, “It’s very loud and you have to learn to block out the noise.”

Brandon Moritz, who averaged 220 this season and was named the SBAAC American Division Boys Bowler of the Year, said he could feel a difference with each ball at last year’s state tournament.

“It’s hard to bowl like you normally do in that environment,” he said. “I know now we’re going to be better because we’re used to that environment. It was hard for everyone to settle in to that chaotic environment.”

Said Keck, “Last year (at) state over-did any tournament I’ve every bowled in and (there) were a lot of stressful moments to overcome.”

While plenty of missteps can be made on the journey to state, Hayslip believed with good reason his team, losing just one bowler from last year’s roster, would be primed for another shot at bowling hardware and would undoubtedly be more comfortable in their surroundings this time around.

“This (2023) journey has come to an end,” Hayslip said after that early March finale. “A new journey will start in November. Only losing one senior has me hopeful there are good things to come in the next couple of years.”

Reach Mark Huber at 937-556-5765, via email [email protected] or at twitter.com @wnjsports

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