The members of the Jonathan Alder High School bowling teams know the way to Wayne Webb’s Columbus Bowl, the site of the OHSAA state championship tournament. Both Pioneers teams have been regular visitors to the state’s biggest event in recent years.
So it should come as no surprise that when the state championship tournament is contested next week both Alder teams will once again be a part of the action after the Pioneers swept the Division II Central District Championships held at HP Lanes in Columbus Thursday.
The Alder boys totaled 3,717 pins and came from behind to outdistance runner-up Heath (3,595) and third-place Licking Valley (3,491). All three teams will advance to the state tournament.
“Scoring once again was very low, and spare making was very difficult and most important,” Alder coach Rusty Walter said. “I really thought the kids did the best they could on those lane conditions, and they battled to a district championship.
“All the teams had to deal with the low scoring. Whether it is low or high scoring lane conditions the best teams usually rise to the top.”
It is the second straight district title for the Alder boys team. Alder rolled a 786 game in the first of the three regular games and trailed Hartley (852), Licking Valley (821) and Heath (816). But the Pioneers responded with games of 927 and 903 to take a 36-pin lead over Heath (2,616-2,580) into the six Baker games.
Alder had solid Baker games of 173, 236, 156, 173, 203 and 160 for the 3,717 total and its third district championship in four years.
The team was led by senior Zach Otto’s 584 series (209-194-181) which placed him third in overall singles. Jacob Schrock came in with a 549 (145-215-189), Andrew Clark had a 525 (175-181-169) and the team got two solid games from Luke Honigford (187-208).
The Lady Pioneers came through a tough final to capture their third straight Central District championship.
Alder had regular game scores of 855, 713 and 824. That 2,392 pin total gave Alder a 105 point lead over Heath and North Union (2,287) heading into Baker games.
Girls put together Baker games of 150, 198, 135, 120, 136 and 156 for a total pinfall of 3,287 and an 80 pin victory over runner-up Heath (3,207) and third-place North Union (3,205).
The Pioneers were led by the senior trio of Hallie Nichols 531 series (sixth overall, 213, 133, 185), Rena Kirts’ 518 (202, 158,158) and Rachel Kaeser’s 482 (168,157,157).
“This group of seniors has lots of state finals experience and I believe we have two top eight teams in both the boys and girls teams. Our No. 1 goal is to make that difficult first cut and win that first ever match in the quarterfinals, and after that anything can happen.
“In the past we always catch a real good team in the quarterfinals and can’t seem to get over that match. This season a very solid (Central Buckeye Conference) League, and pretty good overall schedule have prepared the teams for this state finals,” Walter said. “We been in some good matches, bowled a good tournament schedule and we know we can compete with anybody, given a little luck and solid couple performances, we should compete. At the state final we expect to see some of our CBC teams (Urbana, Shawnee, Graham) and other traditional powers Mechanicsburg, Coldwater, Minerva, and Fairport Harding all next weekend.”
Both Pioneers teams will rely heavily on their seniors.
“It’s been a great senior season for Zach Otto, Joshua Schrock, Darren Maynard, Hallie Nichols, Rena Kirts and Rachel Kaeser,” the coach said. “The three senior girls will have been part of four state tournament teams and the senior boys have been part of three.”
Reach Chris Miles at 740-852-1616, ext. 1618 or via Twitter @MadPressSports.
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