Close miss motivates Springfield's Koerber

Andy Harris
Suburbanite correspondent
Jerry Koerber of Springfield is congratulated by teammates after rolling a strike during the Boys Division I Bowling district tournament on Sunday, Feb. 21, 2021 in Akron, Ohio at Stonehenge Bowling Center. [Phil Masturzo/ Beacon Journal]

SPRINGFIELD TWP.  Jerry Koerber was tantalizingly close to one of his main goals for the 2020-21 bowling season.

The Springfield junior entered the third and final game of the Division I boys state bowling tournament at Wayne Webb's Columbus Bowl in the top 10 among individual competitors and on track to medal in the event as a top-15 finisher.

A tough third game kept him from hitting that mark, but his 18th-place finish was still a solid finish to the campaign for the junior bowler.

"It felt good especially after last year," Koerber said, alluding to falling short of the state tournament as a sophomore. "It was a bit of relief, so to speak, after last year."

Not making it to states last season was tough to digest, so Koerber took a break from bowling over the summer as a way to refresh and reset before returning to the lanes leading up to his junior season. When he did start bowling again, there was plenty of motivation to get better and chase the goals he had in mind.

They were lofty goals, to say the least, but also the kind of aims that allowed athletes to push themselves to achieve more.

"I wanted to have a great year this year and at the beginning of the year, my first goal was to medal at every one of the tournaments," Koerber said. "I fell just short because I missed at Muskingum by five pins and I missed top 15 at state by five pins."

Springfield High's Jerry Koerber celebrates a strike with teammates during the Division I boys bowling sectional at Stonehedge Bowling Center in Akron on Friday Feb. 12, 20201.   [Mike Cardew/Beacon Journal]

Despite those close misses, Koerber racked up plenty of big games over the course of the year. He was able to advance to states as an individual as Springfield fell just short, placing 16th at the district tournament.

That left Koerber to move on without his team there to bowl alongside him. With that change and with all of the added pressure that comes with competing against the best in the state, his approach was simple: keep everything the same and be steady.

"I just tried to go in there and be myself and not try to create a different shot that's not there," Koerber said. "I tried to bowl how I bowled all year."

The result was games of 235 and 223 to start the tournament. A 167 game in the third round kept him from medaling, but Koerber was far from alone in having a difficult third game. Connor Collins of Washington Court House Miami Trace led the field after two games, but bowled a 169 in the third round to drop to third place.

Bowling solid was a change for Koerber, but he felt that he was able to settle in and bowl his normal game after a few frames. Now that he's gotten a taste of the state tournament and has his senior season to try to better that 18th-place result, he's both disappointed with how this year ended and determined to make the necessary changes to attain medalist honors next time around.

"When I look back, I had a pretty good season, but it also hurt a lot because I had it in my hands to get to the top 15 and then I dropped it, so that got to me a little bit," Koerber said. "But when I missed those goals, now I know what I need to work on to change and get better for next year."

Often, athletes need to come close, learn from their near-miss and gain the resulting experience and motivation in order to break through and attain a higher level in their sport. For Koerber, that's precisely the mission as he moves on from a memorable junior campaign with an eye on what's next.