Eastwood bowlers have state tourneys on their minds

J. Patrick Eaken

        The most important goal of the Eastwood bowling teams this year — to reach the state tournament.
        There are eight seniors on the boys and girls teams, and the boys team is 10-2 in dual meets and the No. 1 seed at the sectional meet. The girls team is 11-1 and the No. 3 seed.
        The 15-team Division II sectional was Friday at River City Bowl-A-Way in Napoleon, and the district is Saturday, Feb. 22 at Westgate Lanes in Lima, starting at noon. The boys team reached the state tournament two years ago, but lost to eventual state champion Coldwater in the quarterfinals. They came close to qualifying last year but no cigar.
        “I think we’d all agree that last year when we didn’t get out of districts that was kind of disappointing. I think since five of us on the team are seniors I think it would be really good to get out of districts and get down to state. We definitely have a good team,” said senior team captain Josh Hahn, who has a 188 average.
        Top bowler Noah Jankowski (203 average) adds, “Getting out of districts would be great because last year wasn’t so hot and we didn’t bowl as well as we should have. I feel like now we have the talent and we have the mindset to go through districts and to state, and that is something that would be really cool because it’s our senior year, and the majority of us are seniors.”
        The rest of the boys team is seniors Jesse Lopez (194), Hunter Shiffler (201) and Sam Kahle (171), junior Josh Dennis (184) and freshman Austin Shiffler (161). Veteran coach Jay Young knows his team has to be on when the time comes.
        “We hope so, but when it comes tournament time it’s a one-day deal. Whatever happens that day, just like in softball or anything, if we don’t have a pretty good game we will be out immediately. Our expectations are high. Both teams are pretty solid and we hope to achieve at least some of our goals,” Young said.
        The boys team has won two tournaments, the Sandusky Christmas Invitational and the Bucyrus Invitational and finished third at three others — the Huron Invitational, the Port Clinton Invite and the Toledo Classic.
        At Eastwood, not all the bowlers participate year-round, so Young, who is also the bowling coach at Bowling Green State University, makes sure his bowlers stay focused once the season is on.
        “We’ve got a lot of kids who play other sports and do other things, too. So, most of our kids, when it is in that season, they apply themselves and never stop applying. We go through technique a lot,” Young said.
        “You can’t reinvent the wheel when they’ve bowled that way for years. You tweak certain things and do certain things. It’s like at the college level, I’ve got a kid coming in bowling for me in college we don’t completely change what he is doing. We might tweak some things to make him better, but we can’t reinvent his game. We’ll take the good and try to make the negative a little better.”
        Young adds that he has never had eight seniors before, and he believes that at least two, maybe three, have a chance to bowl collegiately, possibly for him at BGSU.
        For Hahn, he originally found bowling to be an intriguing sport, and then it became serious.
        “I came into the program my sophomore year. I didn’t really expect much of it. I was just looking for something to do and I ended up finding myself in a sport that is super-fun, and I think we all got real good. Our whole class came together and now we have a really solid team our senior year so I’m hoping we can take advantage of it,” Hahn said.
        Jankowski says no matter what happens at sectionals and districts, the bowlers on this team have each other’s back.
        “It’s kind of funny because we’re so diverse as individuals, but we congeal together as a team very well,” Janowski said. “Like (Hunter) Shiffler, he has so many revs, and then you have other people who don’t, but we all pick each other up as a team. We have people who may not be as good at picking up strikes, but are very good at picking up spares and vice versa, so we go back-to-back on that and we pick each other up as we go.”
        The girls team won the Bucyrus tournament, finished second at Huron and the Toledo Classic and third at Sandusky. They have the same goal in mind.
        “At the end of the year I’d like us to end up at states. It would take a lot more of us focusing inside and outside of bowling,” said senior Haley Davis, who has a 161 average.
        Senior Kyla McCoy (152) adds, “We’ve been pretty good throughout the tournaments. We have a couple weeks until sectionals so we are just trying to do our best in practice to get us to where we need to be.”
        Other bowlers are senior Carley Chandler (147), sophomores Ryleigh Bodnar (173) and Lyndsey Chandler (112) and freshmen Jacey Wonderely (137) and Sara Burrell (108).
        Davis says her game wouldn’t be where it is without the tutelage of coach Young.
        “He’s definitely helped improve it. He’s helped a lot with my mechanics and not letting it get inside my head every time I throw a bad shot,” Davis said.


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