SPRINGFIELD TWP. The winter weather – at least so far – hasn’t cooled off much, at least not compared to the normal bone-chilling temperatures to which Northeast Ohioans have become accustomed.
Fittingly, neither has the Springfield boys bowling team, which is in the midst of another extremely successful season as the Spartans roll into sectional competition this weekend.
“We are so very blessed to have a group of gentlemen who pick each other up during matches and push each other to do their best,” head coach Dana Floyd said. “Our overall record this season for the (Portage Trail Conference) was 9-1. This is our second season in a row securing second place in the PTC.”
Making it through the PTC with just one loss is no small feat, as the league has proven to be a deep and difficult one, with teams on the boys’ and girls’ sides racking up plenty of postseason success and state tournament appearances in recent years.
There’s no question that having an experienced, veteran-led squad is a huge asset and that’s precisely what Springfield has this season.
Seniors Patrick Ambrose, Nathan Homan and Blake Hillyard have anchored the lineup all season long, with fellow senior Chris Clement contributing when called upon over the course of the year.
Entering the season, Floyd knew she had the core of her roster back from one year ago. The Spartans only lost one senior, Nathan Woods, to graduation, and having back a group that knew each other well and had competed in a lot of big matches together was encouraging.
“The boys were able to build upon that bond that they created last season,” Floyd said. “This team spends not only time on the lanes together but off the lanes, too. They have created those friendships, which only strengthen our team. They bring a different level of support and encouragement to each other.”
Alongside the seniors, sophomores Dalton Conley and Jerry Koerber have rounded out the starting lineup, with reserves Nicholas Bry and Matthew Homan also seeing time in varsity competition.
It has been that all-together mindset that Floyd preaches to her team, knowing that during a season, a team needs more than just its starting five to roll well if it’s going to get to where it wants to be.
“Each of these bowlers have had big games for us this season in key situations,” Floyd noted. “They don’t take those games for granted … they work very hard to improve various parts of their game. We never forget that we all have things to work on.”
One of the ways the Spartans’ veteran leadership has shown up, she added, is in the way bowlers have been willing to take on different roles as needed and not insist on having things the way they may have preferred.
The results have been memorable. Ambrose narrowly missed a 300 game in the PTC opener against Crestwood, rolling a 298. Another big moment came in the Tomahawk Invitational – a Bakers game event at Riviera Lanes – where Springfield reached the semifinals against a tough field
Koerber authored one of the more recent highlights went he rolled the second-high series, 729 for three games, during the PTC championship tournament held at Spins Bowl in Kent.
As the postseason begins, expectations are high and for a squad that Floyd says can be hard on itself in terms of critiquing its own performance and expecting to win every time out, this is where the Spartans want to shine the most.
They are also motivated by the way last season ended, short of their team goals.
“We were not happy with the way last season ended for us. We were unable to make it out of the sectional tournament. Our mindset this year has been one of determination,” Floyd said.
Now, they have a chance to gain some redemption and take another shot at postseason glory.
GIRLS ON A ROLL
The Springfield girls have enjoyed a similarly successful season and won the PTC championship at Spins Bowl. The girls have made multiple state tournament appearances in recent years and are aiming for another one this season.