COLUMBUS Not many leagues in Ohio can lay claim to having two of their schools among the field at the girls Ohio High School Athletic Association state bowling championships.
That makes it all the more noteworthy that both the Springfield Spartans and Coventry Comets battled their way to the state level in Division II. Both Portage Trail Conference teams headed to Columbus with designs on a possible title run and while they each came up short, they walked away proud of their seasons overall.
After capturing the district title, Coventry appeared to have a slight edge in terms of momentum, but it was Springfield who recorded the better result at the state meet, placing seventh, while the Comets fell short of the championship round and settled for 11th in the field of 16.
“(Assistant) coach Kerry Bever and I were very proud of our team. The girls battled through illnesses - three were still sick that day - and gave an outstanding effort,” Springfield head coach Matt Graves said. “We had an excellent start (and) we were in first place after game one. It was an exciting day and we enjoyed being there.”
According to Graves, when the Spartans qualified as one of eight teams in the championship round, they were happy with their efforts to that point, but not content.
The first game of the day saw three Springfield bowlers break 200 as Kamryn Smith rolled a 225, Mackenzie Bever 212 and Mackenzie Weakland rolled a 208. The wait to see if they’d made it to the next round was an anxious one and hearing their names announced as part of the final eight was a moment the Spartans won’t soon forget.
Graves said it was also a proud moment to have Coventry in the field and with Norton representing the PTC in the Division I state tournament, the conference clearly had one of the best years for any league in the state.
“We know the strength of the PTC and have a lot respect for our rivals,” Graves said. “I was happy for coach (Aaron) Rose and his team and glad that the tough PTC was well-represented.”
Rose and the Comets had what the veteran coach described as “an average day” in terms of what they were capable of and against the best teams in the state, average wasn’t quite enough. The Comets rolled a team score of 2,395, 88 pins out of the top eight.
“Overall, it was great experience. These girls worked hard for four years … we reached the district tournament three years and won it this year,” Rose said. “We didn't bowl bad at the state tournament, we just didn't bowl our best.”
With five seniors and two juniors on the roster, Coventry had plenty of experience and its seniors had been a part of the program for virtually their entire high school careers.
Naomi Thomas, who was second on the team in scoring for the year, had the top three-game series at the state level, with a score of 519. Mackenzie Ross, third in scoring for the year, was the second-best bowler for the Comets on the day with a 500 score for three games.
“We just didn’t bowl our best. Every game was about the same for us,” Rose said. “I told them to enjoy the whole experience, just live it up and no matter what happens, they’re still winners and they’re still one of the top teams in the state.”
Rose noted that each of their four years in the program, the seniors were able to edge closer and closer to the state tournament. It was the third overall state tournament appearance for Coventry bowling, with the girls team qualifying twice and the boys qualifying once.
Graves, whose team was seeded seventh in the championship round and fell by 39 pins to second-seeded Bryan in the first round of the bracket, delivered a similar message to his squad.
“(I told them) how proud coach Bever and I were of each young lady for representing our school in such a positive manner,” Graves said. “We were happy how they worked as a team all year to get better and how we persevered through adversity. We were truly honored to have coached such a great group of student athletes.”
With accomplishments such as PTC and sectional titles to their credit, the Spartans headed home having turned in yet another successful campaign for what has become one of the area’s most consistent programs in recent years.
Reach Andy at 330-580-8936
On Twitter: @aharrisBURB