WBL tournament filled with special moments

Jack Hammill - Guest Columnist

What an incredible week just concluded in our community. This past Wednesday, the Western Buckeye League wrapped up its second full season as Elida High School hosted the season ending event at 20th Century Lanes.

The week ended on Saturday with the Western Ohio Bowling Conference, clearly one of if not the premier high school conference in this or any state closing its championship season at Westgate Lanes.

You can look forward to a wrap-up on that afternoon of anticipated greatness in an upcoming edition of this report.

The WBL season ender was loaded with special moments, moments that make the support which families, proprietors and now schools afford to the youth that benefit from the opportunity to compete on the interscholastic level.

I had the opportunity to speak briefly with Mr. Don Horstman, the superintendent of Ottawa-Glandorf. He spoke with great pride of his student athletes. He spoke to the sportsmanship and team camaraderie. The conversation went beyond that to how happy he was that added students, not simply basketball and football players, now had the chance to be an even greater part of the school and the community. He was thankful that the parents and the Highland Lanes Schroeder family had offered all the assists that they have.

One of the other elements that impressed me on this day was the number of athletic directors that were present for all or at the least different portions of the event. It reminded me of how the late Dave May once advised me of how if there was an event at his school, he was going to do all he could to be there.

Dave Evans of Elida started the parade of AD’s but also present was Dick Heath of Shawnee, Brad Rex of Wapak and Rich Dackin of Bath. Each of the four had plenty of reason to be happy throughout the day.

I also have to give a huge thank you to Kent Smelser, the former AD of Van Wert who serves as the main contact person for bowling for the conference. He really helped the flow of the day go well.

As mentioned it was a tournament of moments. One of them took me back prior to the days of the OHSAA and our sport. I apologize for not remembering the exact year but it was a state championship for Wapak when things were managed by the proprietors and not the state.

Toby Price exhorting the crowds was the memory. On that day Price practically came over the walls dividing us from the crowd to pump up the fan base as Wapak chased down the title. It is a moment that I can still visualize today, one that I never want to lose.

Wednesday morning, there was a totally different kind of an exhortation as Karlee Huber and her Celina teammates led approximately 150 bowlers onto the lanes, circling the approaches as the student-athletes attempted to meet prayer needs. To this moment it is goosebumps on goosebumps.

Bryana Twining of Bath and Austin Cook of St Marys would be named bowlers of the year and the Lady Riders of St Marys and the Wapak Redskins would take season and tournament titles but the prayer will remain the memory for many.

Many of us remember a time when we had to run next door for our parents to borrow a cup of sugar or a maybe some flour. We would often feel funny as we carried the measuring cup next door to assure that we got the right amount. Thankfully we did not have to run back with what we borrowed the next day after mom or dad went to the store. Moms just understood those needs – specifically that when you need to do the same we would be there for them.

Recently I experienced a flashback to those days when I traveled across the county to get some ‘oil’ for the lane machine at 20th Century. The duo of Derek and the Bean at Southgate quickly obliged as we weighed the option of the desired lane grease with Mazola or better yet Kniola oil.

The willingness to help out was apparent again this past week for the event at 20th. Skip Core took care of the gate for coffee and a roll and Tom Sifrit was the right hand needed in those rare moments where Jay Selgo or an AD was not around.

Granted it was the Elida school event to host but three underclassmen named Faith, Alix and Hunter were huge helps as well as an under underclassmen Morgan.

Consider this one more plug for the LBA. This time it is for two events. One is the upcoming LBA doubles that will be rolled Saturday Feb. 18 at Westgate Lanes at 5 p.m. See if you can still get in the mix for what should be a great event.

The second event is the absolute easiest to enter. The USBC actually mandates a women’s event in the era of merged associations. In Lima the mandate is addressed by having an in league singles tournament. It is kind of a fascinating event if you think of it! You bowl your league, kick in a little more money and you get more bang for your sanction money.

The event will be held the week of Feb. 19

In closing let’s give it up for one of the true icons in our bowling community, Jack Tranthem. I have chronicled his career on a couple of different occasions over the years,

Today we will give him love for reaching his 90th year and still be bowling three days a week. What can I say – bowling brings longevity.

See you around the lanes …


Jack Hammill

Guest Columnist

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