The varsity girls bowling team traveled to Wayne Webb’s Columbus Bowl on Friday to compete in the 2019 State Championship. The Southwest District Champion Elks would be joined by 15 other teams who were also chasing that title. Each team would bowl three individual games and then three Baker games. When that was done, the top eight teams would advance to the Baker match-play tournament to determine the State Champion. That would also be the time when all of the individual all-state awards would be announced.
The girls got off to a rough start in the first team game. Following a strong opening frame, the girls struggled through the middle frames and were looking for answers. A strong finish earned them a score of 822 and had them sitting in 6th place after the first game. Game two was not much better as the girls again struggled and finished with an 835. That score dropped them into 8th place, just 13 pins above the cut line. In game three, the girls got going and found their rhythm. Rolling the fourth highest team game of the day with a 945, the girls vaulted into 5th place, now a comfortable 119 pins above the cut line. Needing to stay steady through the three Baker games to punch their ticket to the match-play Baker tournament, the girls bowled a 177, a 164 and a 163. The 504 added to their 2,662 from the team games earned them a total of 3,106. The girls would have to wait 45 minutes to find out if that was good enough and after the wait, received some very good news as they maintained their grip on fifth place and earned their way into the State Quarterfinals.
Senior Erika Taylor finished 17th overall with a 558. Fellow senior Payton Watson was 34th with a 529, sophomore Kaylie Sipes 38th with a 522, senior Allie Ball 43rd with a 514 and junior McKinsey Maruca 58th with a 479.
In the match-play tournament, the 5th seeded Elks would face the 4th seeded Seton Saints from Cincinnati. In game one, the Saints rolled past the Elks, 186-145, to take a 1-0 lead in the best-of-five series. The girls then buckled down and won game two, 186-160, to tie the series at a game apiece. Riding that momentum into game three, the girls posted a 166-140 win and took a 2-1 lead, moving within one game of a berth in the state semifinals. Sensing the opportunity to put the Saints away, the girls took advantage of a very nervous team who finally succumbed to the pressure of the state tournament and posted a 170-113 win to take the best-of-five series, 3-1, and move into the State Semifinals.
In the semifinal match, the girls would have their work cut out for them against the top seeded Stow-Munroe Falls Bulldogs, who featured individual State Champion, freshman Jillian Martin. The Bulldogs started the day strong and stayed in the number one spot throughout the day so this would be a formidable challenge for the Lady Elks. The girls were up to the challenge and took game one, 190-176, to take a 1-0 lead in the series. They rode that momentum into game two and won a game where both teams struggled, 157-146, to take a 2-0 lead and move within one game of a berth in the State Finals. Flashing the brilliance they had shown all day, the Bulldogs refused to roll over and beat the Elks in game three, 257-183. Another strong showing in game four lifted the Bulldogs to a 225-184 win which sent the State Semifinals to a winner-take-all game five. The Elks remained calm and won a hard-fought game, 191-177, to take the match, 3-2, and move into the State Finals.
In the finals, the Elks were staring across the lanes at a familiar foe, the Beavercreek Beavers. The Beavers were there thanks to a 3-2 win over Wayne in the quarterfinals and a 3-2 win over North Canton Hoover in the semifinals. The all-Greater Western Ohio Conference showdown would determine the 2019 State Champion. You could cut the tension with a knife and both teams were ready to face off one last time this season.
Beavercreek handled the pressure better early and cruised past the Elks, 205-154, in game one to take a 1-0 lead. The girls responded in game two and took advantage of a rough outing by Beavercreek to post a 163-133 win and knot the best-of-five series at a game apiece. Both teams bowled well in game three, but the Elks were better and the result was a 212-191 win and a 2-1 lead in the series, moving them just one win away from the state title. Refusing to go away, the Beavers responded with a strong game to post a 209-179 win and tie the match at two, setting up a winner-take-all fifth game for the State Championship. Both teams showed the tension was getting to them and struggled in that fifth and final game. As the match came down to the tenth frame, senior Payton Watson put the Elks in position where the only way they could lose was if the Beavers had a perfect tenth frame of three strikes. The first ball had some English on it and the pins bounced around for the first strike needed. The second ball looked perfect out of their hands and headed right toward the pocket. However, as had been the case all day on many of the Elks’ balls, the stubborn ten pin refused to fall and the Elks knew they were State Champions, setting off a celebration on the lanes and in the bleachers. Beavercreek picked up the spare to make the final score, 159-150, and add yet another memorable chapter to this already fierce rivalry.
The State Championship is the second in school history for the girls with the first being 11 years ago in 2008.
Outstanding job, ladies! Congratulations on making a memory today which will stay with you for a lifetime. No matter what happens going forward, you will be forever known as a State Champion!