Springfield boys bowling off to hot start
SPRINGFIELD TWP. The first month of the season has contained a lot of no's for the Springfield boys bowling team.
No seniors on the roster. No spectators allowed at matches. Perhaps most importantly, no league losses on the ledger.
The Spartans closed out the calendar year with a 6-1 record whose only defeat came just before Christmas to a Rootstown team that was formerly a league rival, but is a non-league foe now that Springfield is a member of the newly formed Metro Athletic Conference.
For Springfield head coach Dana Floyd, it's been a unique year because her roster doesn't contain a single senior. Instead, the veterans are juniors who have been part of the program throughout their high school careers and are being asked to fill the leadership roles within the team.
"Those juniors have all stepped up to be leaders and they've taken the underclassmen under their wings. They will go into the bowling alley on off days and make sure they're getting work in," Floyd said. "My juniors have really functioned as seniors. Dalton Conley and Jerry Koerber have bowled for us since they were freshman and Matt Homan's brother Nathan was part of the program the last three years so Matt got to see how the program runs."
The results have been positive through the first month of the season, with several exciting wins marking the path to this point. Defeating Woodridge, which Springfield hadn't won against since Floyd took over as head coach, was a big moment, as was a close win over Norton that went down to the third Baker game before the Spartans took the lead for good.
After losing three seniors from last season and not having any seniors this season, the team's leaders are all competitors who were sophomores just one year ago.
Kpoerber, Conley and Hoban are joined by fellow junior Nicholas Bry, sophomore Samuel McFarland and freshmen Tyler Rice and Wyatt Keys to form a roster that has gotten contributions from throughout the lineup on a match-to-match basis.
"It's been a mix ... Nicholas (Try) has had a fabulous season so far and Jerry Koerber has had games in the 250s and 260s," Floyd said. "Tyler (Rice) shot really well against Rootstown and had a 257 game right out of the gate in that match."
Although there aren't any seniors on the roster, some recently graduated seniors continue to have a strong connection to the program. Tanner Marmash, Frank Garretson and Zach Williams are bowlers who have helped build the program as it now stands and after helping establish bowling as one of the most successful sports in the district over the past few years along with the girls team, that trio continues to contribute to Springfield's success.
"Our boys have a lot of pride in what they do and they come from that mindset that Tanner Marsmash, Frank Garretson and Zach Williams had as leaders in getting the program up and running," Floyd said. "A lot of them bowl together in the summer and there's a lot of pride in that they don't want to let those guys down."
The new leaders for the program made their mark early in the season when a rough start at a tournament led to the team gathering around one another, encouraging their teammates and supporting them as they tried to rally from their slow first few frames.
It's the sort of scene that's become increasingly necessary this season with no fans allowed at matches. Parents aren't allowed to attend practices either, so bowlers don't have the normal support they enjoy at matches. Additionally, during matches each team is placed on its own pair of lanes with opponents on their own pair of lanes and two vacant lanes between them to maximize separation for the sake of social distancing.
Floyd, whose own children played multiple sports growing up, knows it's been tough on both bowlers and parents to not have spectators at matches. However, the goal for the season remains the same: reach the state tournament. It's a lofty goal, but one that has been in the mix for Springfield boys and girls bowling often over the past few seasons.
As for the silence at matches and the odd, eerie calm in the alley during competition, the answer to that is simple.
"The boys are finding out that they really have to rely on each other," Floyd said. "We make our own noise."