Grinding to a halt


Jack Hammill - Guest Columnist



I am a bit notorious for being a lover of this game and the people in it. There was a time when I actually thought that it would be great to own a bowling alley. Of course that was back in the days prior to the massive bowling centers of the day; well before the CrazyPinz concept of the late great Vic Sockrider in Ft Wayne, Indiana. I always thought that a house the size of Moreo or Northland Lanes would be ideal.

Not so much anymore.

These thoughts and the great memories over the last 50 years or so flowed to the top this past evening during and following a conversation with Michael Riepenhoff of 20th Century Lanes. The Coronavirus pandemic has brought the game that so many of us love to a grinding halt, at least locally.

I did notice some interesting posts on social media regarding this decision as well as the governors of Ohio and other states determining that all restaurants and bars would be closed for an indefinite period of time. There were people that were taking a cavalier attitude saying that they would continue to pursue interests regardless of age or health status. Some were shouting, ‘What’s next? Will gas stations be closed? Will martial law be in place?’

It was an extremely difficult choice that was made easier for the proprietors because of an ingredient that they have always owned in abundance especially in this area. The proprietors in our community clearly love the bowlers that pass through their doors. The bowlers that they see are not numbers who help them increase the numbers of their bottom line. They are more like family. Our time at the lanes will return at another time and we will all be stronger for it.

For those that think they are invincible and would rather the bowling houses had let you tempt your own fate consider that I read this morning that two emergency room doctors in two different parts of our country, thankfully not our area, are now critically ill from the virus. We are obviously not sure how to fight it so lets be patient for now.

What would not surprise me is that somewhere in the WBL or the WOHSBC/MAC or elsewhere in the realm of youth bowling there may be an answer to addressing this critical issue. Then again let us continue to permit our youth to avoid the impact of this plague.

The WBL players of the year were recently identified on their website but unlike the major sports of that conference they became one of the best kept secrets in high school sports.

What is interesting about bowling as compared to most other sports is that there is an objective criterion that is used to determine those who are honored. The only thing that is subjective is what criteria are used to determine the honorees. A format quite similar if not identical as some would recognize from the world of golf was used in the process. In the individual matches the top

scoring bowler from a match earned a maximum of ten points, the second ranked player earned nine points etc.

Accordingly Abbey Ambroza of Lima Shawnee and Derek Fisher of St Marys earned the honors this season.

Ambroza, who also earned D1 All-Ohio honors at the state tournament this last weekend outdistanced Makaela Schiber of Kenton. Lorrie Decker of Van Wert, the dynamic duo of Alayna Thornsberry and Jaden Gibson of St Marys and Audree Gray of Celina.

Madison Doseck and Brielle Meeks of Wapakoneta, Jamie Coats and Ashlyn Huber of Celina and Marian Mathews of Bath earned second team honors.

Fisher led a dominant performance by the Roughriders, who place four bowlers on the first two all conference teams. Teammate Jonathan Perez-Shinabery earned first team while Cameron Now and Junior Hurley were placed on the second team.

Sam Wagner of Wapak, who earned his way to the state last season, was a strong runner up to Fisher. His teammate Caige Schnarre also earned first team honors.

Britton Hole of Celina and Ethan Bowersock of Elida rounded out the first team.

Shawnee made an impact on the second team in the persons of Solomon Smith and Cruz Hunter with Kaleb Egri peeking in through a third team window.

Devin Maynard of Defiance rounded out the second team.

Payton Newbury could also be seen through one of those third team windows. Newbury along with Keaton Phillips offer a strong hub for the future of Bath.

Speaking of Bath – let me say that they could quite easily be one of the teams of the future within the WBL.

This past Sunday, the Wildcats were victorious in the Great 8 Shootout featuring middle school students from the area.

Shelley and Justin Slygh demonstrated that they have the pedigree and a growing resume to be considered for any coaching position within our area. They have grown a great deal this past season.

They earned that honor by doing what was the design of the league. They helped youth bowlers develop as they have done on Saturdays all season at 20th Century. They are evidence that if you put youth in a strong youth program they will get better.

The victors by name were Drew Link, James Melvin, Ember Brunk, Cody Douglas, Wyatt Slygh, Savanah Dunifon and Tyson McGee. They were joined within the rules of the league by Lynsey Rowlands who calls Spencerville home for now.

The who to watch out of this group is obvious … all of them …

The younger ones will continue to get better under Shelley and Justin and the older ones now move onto Rayleen Arthur and Beth Edwards who have demonstrated the ability to get youth to the next level. That said my money is on 11 year old Ember Brunk one day to be very special

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Jack Hammill

Guest Columnist

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