It’s tourney time

Jack Hammill - Guest Columnist

What a busy time of the year in the bowling world. The LBA is readying for not only its next event but the high school bowlers are getting ready to roll in conference and OHSAA play. It is indeed tournament time.

While the LBA USBC Doubles event is this coming weekend, the youth won the battle today for center stage. The LBA event – well make sure you read to end of this column.

As I have mentioned throughout the last couple of decades, we live in an area that is rich with high school bowling talent. Numerous state titles have been captured in the last fifteen to 20 years.

The tournament season kicks off in earnest this weekend when the season ending events of the WBL and the WOHSBC are held respectively at Hillcrest Lanes in Kenton on Friday and Westgate Lanes on Saturday. If you love the game get away from the television and the kids away from the video games and come watch. The talent that will be on display is pretty amazing.

The WBL leads off on Friday. Certainly wish this could be held on a Saturday sometime soon. It would be great if Kenton could let the kids out of school who may want to learn more about the sport.

One of the elements that makes the WBL event special is that you will have the opportunity to see up close at least four teams that could bring home gold from Columbus. This would include defending Division II boys champion St Marys as well as OHSAA Kickoff champ Celina, and powerhouse squads Wapak and Shawnee.

There is plenty of talen on the girl’s side as well. St Marys is loaded and prepped for a state run and Wapak and Shawnee each rated higher in the recently completed Pioneer Classic. In addition, Jordyn Stewart of Elida has already made one state trip in individual competition and Briana Twining is the defending bowler of the year for the conference. Who knows maybe Dayle Aldrich of Shawnee will again sing the National Anthem.

Speaking of Aldrich she is the reigning North bowler of the year for the WOHSBC which will be rolled on Saturday at Westgate where she bowled in her junior bowling days.

The same four powerhouses that we discussed above will be on display on Saturday along with perennial powers Coldwater, Versailles and St Henry. This is match-up day for the conference. The overall winner will be decided in each of the varsity squads as well as the junior varsity teams.

It will also be a chance for teams like LCC, O-G, Minster and the annual mystery team or individual to begin to build momentum for a state run. I do not see a basketball game that will get in the way so it could be a good day for the T-Birds.

The events this week are great warm-ups for the OHSAA Northwest District action that is now just a little over week away. The D2 Sectional featuring defending state champion St Marys and powerhouse Coldwater is February 16th at Minster. The girls action with St Marys a strong option there as well will get underway at noon the next day.

Earlier today I had channeled my inner Harry Sullins and was about to reach into the past memory bag and use the statement from an old interview with the Hall of Famer. To paraphrase the brilliant senior performer – ‘You pay the dues, bowl the tournaments!’

This is an event that means a great deal to me! I actually have an LBA title that means a lot to me in this event. It was Phil Austin’s coming out party and we won what is now known as the B Division. It was commonly referred to as the handicap version at the time. As good as Phil would one day become we were not going to be partnering up anytime soon to bowl against the Boroff, Mericles, and Roneys of the world. He did earn it later with Rick Courtney and the rest is history and tradition. I understand his frustration.

As I continue to channel my inner Harry, I would want the best of the best to bowl and take on yet another ironic challenge – I trust Harry would say that you should then take the issue to the annual meeting of your association.

I would add that most in the confab yesterday have a friend on the board of the LBA. My guess is that the payout of the event and the scoring by handicap is going to have a USBC connection.

Tenth frame …

– William Tyler Phillips has now rolled perfect games on back to back Friday evenings. The young man is on fire – Who is doubles partner this upcoming weekend.

– I know that I promote the youth a great deal – and I will continue to do so – but if you knew you could be bowling alley close to an excellent high school basketball game or college event would you go? The youth in our area are champions please take the time to come and watch them either this weekend or in two weeks or so when the D1 sectional as at 20th Century Lanes.

– One of my favorite competitors in the high school ranks was Torrie Decker of Van Wert. She was an intense competitor who I always found easy to talk to and enjoyable to be around. I am really looking forward to spending some time with her over the next couple of weeks. She is now charged with starting the bowling program at Lourdes College near Toledo. It was a great hire as she has learned her craft at great bowling schools Valparaiso and Robert Morris. You will read more about her in an upcoming column or two.

See you around the lanes

Jack Hammill

Guest Columnist

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