Based solely on scores from last week’s statewide district bowling tournaments, Wilmington ranked third among all state-bound teams going in to Friday’s Division I OHSAA Bowling Championship.
Using scores WHS senior Elijah Martini could find for all teams still in competition, the Hurricane ranks fourth in average.
“The only team outside our district above us is Kent Roosevelt,” said Martini.
Said fellow WHS senior Grant Pickard, “It’s exciting to see. Everyone says we have the toughest district to get to state. I don’t see any reason why we can’t be in the top four.”
Pickard and Martini will be joined in Columbus by Jordan Macik, Jordan Tackett, Hunter Gallion, Isaac Martini and Hunter Wright. The team is coached by Dustin Brown, who is assisted by Joe Gigandet.
Bowling is scheduled to begin with practice at 10:15 a.m. Friday at Wayne Webb’s Columbus Bowl. Tournament competition is set to start at 10:30 a.m.
The tournament format is each of the 16 teams and individual qualifiers will bowl three games to start. Those three games will ultimately determine the individual state champion and All-Ohio bowlers.
The teams will continue with three baker games.
The top eight teams (team game and baker game totals) will qualify for the championship round. Teams will be seeded from 1 through 8 with head to head competition in a best-of-five baker games bracketed competition.
The team that wins three of the baker round will be state champion.
“Once you get to the championship round, there’s more pressure,” said Martini.
Wilmington had a pinfall count of 4,352 last week. Centerville had the best district score at 4,514. Butler, the defending state champion, finished with 4,396.
Kent Roosevelt had a 4,492 during sectional competition, which included three bowlers with 711 or better, but finished with 4,274 at the district.
PRACTICE MAKES …
Each team is afforded the opportunity to practice at Wayne Webb’s Columbus Bowl prior to the state tournament.
Wilmington bowled Thursday at WWCB.
“In total, we will bowl a combined 50 games for practice, six individual games per player and eight baker,” WHS coach Dustin Brown said. “The first round we went through a lot of equipment trying to see what was going to give us the best look. (The second round) we are going for score.”
Brown was cautiously optimistic.
“They are looking lined up,” he said. “They are getting pumped for (Friday).”
It’s unlikely any team runs away with the state championship.
So every pin will count.
“Any mistake could cost us,” Pickard said last week.
So spares will be the key for Wilmington … any team actually still bowling on Friday.
“As long as we focus on making spares, we’ll be OK,” said Martini.
Brown, who is in his first year as the WHS boys bowling coach, has been preaching spares all season. Last week, with pressure mounting to advance to state, Brown’s mantra escalated.
“At the end of the day, I knew the spares — those makeable spares — would determine the cut,” said Brown.
A total of 84 pins was the difference last week between second place Butler and seventh place Beavercreek. There was five pins difference between the last state qualifying team and the first non-qualifying team.
“At this point, we know what we need to do to get our spares,” Martini said. “The key is to leave makeable spares. At this point, we expect each other to be good enough to make the spares.”
In addition to Centerville, Vandalia Butler and Kent Roosevelt, Wilmington is joined in Columbus for the state tournament by Sidney, Cin. La Salle, Col. St. Francis De Sales, Gahanna Lincoln, Marion Harding, Logan, Mentor, Macedonia Nordonia, Massillon Perry, Tallmadge and St. Marys Memorial.
Butler would appear to be the favorite. The Aviators were state champions last year and second in 2018.
Mentor was fourth last season and Berea-Midpark was eighth. Neither team placed in 2018.
Massillon Perry and Marion Harding also qualified for state last season. Harding was 12th in 2018.
STAY IN YOUR LANE
Wilmington lane assignments for the tournament are Game 1-Lane 25; Game 2-Lane 21; Game 3-Lane 17. Baker games lanes 13-14-13.
Reach Mark Huber at 937-556-5765, via email email@example.com or on Twitter @wnjsports