It is a word that will be dead center in the mind of many of our high school athletes over the next few weeks as tournament action. It also known as the road to Columbus to quote the immortal Vince Koza and is now underway in our region.
In the world of bowling that journey, Division II style for our immediate area begins in Minster and Napoleon and before it hits Columbus, will make a trip through Westgate Lanes here in Lima for district action.
The Division I sectional will originate in Rossford before its fateful trip to Wapakoneta where the bell will toll for only one team and one individual to make the trip to Columbus for a chance for state honors.
The Northwest district of our state has a rich if not historic tradition. This year will not be any different. Each of the two divisions in our area has long benefited from the WOHSBC and the addition of the last couple of years of the WBL has made the area even stronger if that is even possible.
I spent some time with one or two of my bowling buddies, Tom Sifrit, lately and we mutually decided that it was going to be very difficult to handicap the field for either the Division I or II events.
Looking first at the D2, as we will reference it going forward today and in future columns, the talent is amazing. Note that we have the defending state champions, St Marys Roughriders – both girls and boys with one caveat. The boys are now considered D1.
The girls are still D2 however and as I write this I have been advised that this very day they earned the honor of WBL Tournament champions after falling to Wapakoneta for the regular season title settling for a second place tie with Celina. They are a very solid group and the favorite of many to make another run at state gold.
One of the teams that stands in their way would be Coldwater who defeated them in the finals of the recently completed Pioneer Classic, an excellent precursor to tournament action. Could we see a repeat in both Sectional and district action as we have during different past seasons.
Van Wert placed third today behind the top two squads actually outdistancing Celina. Lorrie Decker is a great hammer to have. They will have to be reckoned with.
There is also something very special about Bath. They have the knack to do very special things this time of year and I would never turn my head from the varsity boy or girls squads of this school.
If I had to pick a school not mentioned here in D2 it would be the Perry Commodores. Char Meyer is a better coach than most realize and is dedicated to her team. She also has three incredible weapons in Cameron Patrick, Camren Dalton and Brayden Dalton who seem real comfortable with the bowling pattern that is being utilized. If they get a bump or two out of Cameron Nutt and maybe Haley Bradford, they find a way to Columbus.
Lima Central Catholic will lose two great parts of their teams as Hannah Riepenhoff and Madalena Knotts are flying solo for this event. Riepenhoff has rolled well at Minster in the past – runner-up of WOHSBC Singles. She is very special and could be a factor. Cousin Madalena is explosive and could also advance to Westgate for district play. For that matter cousin Jay could make it a family reunion of the guys side of things.
The D1 battle that opens in Rossford is going to be one fantastic event. For the purposes of this report today let me eliminate all teams north of Lima and consider six or our local schools, Shawnee, Wapak, St Marys, Lima Senior High, Celina and Elida. Each has had some sensational moments this past year. Elida has won two invitationals – The Spartan and Pioneer Classics – while Wapak, St Marys and Celina battled in the WBL. Shawnee is coming of age and Lima Senior has my choice for the best young bowler in our area – Isaac Hicks.
The problem remains is that only one team and one individual can advance from the district to the state play. The D2 defending champion Roughriders are there along with other great teams with superb individuals.
This brings us the Lima Senior High cases of Rico Upshaw and Mr. Hicks. I cannot thing of anything that I would love more than to see the two advance.
I had the chance to watch Hicks this past week battle against LCC. LCC wonthe match but Hicks stole the moment. It was like every shot he had to make was made with two scenarios where the final pins did not fall. He was the most like Brian Garman, my personal choice for best high schooler ever – Garman that is.
I love this time of year. It will be another great year for the northwest, especially our area.