COVENTRY TWP. Unlike playing back your favorite song on Spotify, repeating a trip to the state bowling tournament is a lot harder than pressing a button.
Yet despite that fact – and losing six seniors from their trip to Columbus last season – the Coventry Comets are making a return to Ohio high school bowling's biggest stage, earning a spot in next weekend's state tournament by finishing fourth at the district level with a team score of 3,317.
It's a moment head coach Aaron Rose believed was possible as far back as the end of last season, even knowing he would lose a half dozen seniors and have to plug plenty of new faces into the lineup.
"I don't think they believed it at any time during season told them, but I told them at our postseason banquet last year that we had a chance to make it back to states," Rose said.
Rose, who coaches the boys team, had a helping hand from Shannon Riley, who was the main voice for the girls team during parts of the season. It's a season that saw the Comets go 7-3 in Portage Trail Conference competition, finish third in the PTC tournament and roll into the postseason feeling good about what they'd been able to do and could do going forward.
"They're very proud," Rose said of the team's reaction to qualifying to go back to Columbus. "The is the first time going back to back to states."
It is also the third trip to states in the past five years, arguably making the girls bowling team the most successful on in the district over the past few years when it comes to tournament success.
The seniors who have stepped in to replace the six who departed after last season have all played different – and larger – roles this season.
The two top scorers on the squad are seniors Naomi Thomas and Maria Caplinger, whose per-game scoring averages are 176 and 174, respectively. Caplinger also received recognition for being one of the top bowlers at the district level, receiving a certificate afterward.
Their efforts have lent consistency to the lineup and so have the contributions of senior Tiffany Miller, who has been with the program all four years of her high school career but is seeing serious varsity action for the first time.
As the state tournament nears this weekend, the Comets know some of the challenges that they'll face. They come in the forms of teams they've bowled alongside thus far in the postseason and who have also made it to the state tournament, along with the pressure that comes with vying for a state title.
But the others come from the lanes themselves, the ones where the Comets and 15 other teams will vie for the title next weekend. "We're working on our sevens and tens (pins)," Rose said. "Also preparing for the surface at states and the different oil pattern."
The logic in approaching those challenges is making sure the Comets hit their spots and are on target so that they can settle in and play their own game when they get to Columbus. The first goal, Rose said, is making the final eight, at which point the remaining teams are put into a bracket and have to take on one opponent at a time en route to the title.
"That's our first goal is to make the top eight," Rose said, noting that if that happens, he doesn't plan to repeat his actions from the district tournament, when he told the team prior to the last Baker game that they had wrapped up high enough finish to advance. "I'm not going to tell them next time, because we went out and rolled our worst Baker game."
The last sentence was said with a laugh, but it's set to be all business for these repeat visitors to the state tournament.