It’s roughly a two-hour drive to get from Jonathan Alder High School in Plain City to Shawnee State University in Portsmouth. It’s a route that Pioneer bowling fans may want to get familiar with, as a trio of Alder bowlers committed to join the bowling program at Shawnee State University during a ceremony held at the high school Wednesday.
Seniors Zach Otto, Joshua Schrock and Hallie Nichols all inked their names to compete for the Bears, bringing a smile to the face of Alder coach Rusty Walter.
“It’s exciting, it really is,” Walter said. “College bowling is picking up. For me to have three today, four all together in this class is huge. It pays dividends and just shows you how good this class was.”
Otto was an all-district and all-league performer who placed 33rd at the OHSAA Division II state championships. He was also the leader who helped the Pioneers reach the state title match. The Pioneers ultimately came up one match short of a state crown.
Schrock battled through the season, and showed enough to get college coach’s attention.
“Zach was a great leader and performed well all year, I couldn’t have asked for a better senior,” the coach said. “He took the reins and was the leader of this team.
“Josh had a difficult season, he was sick a little bit and missed a few weeks, but was a tremendous team player. He did everything we asked. He’s just a great kid. We’re really proud of the Schrock family and the Otto family for them to get the opportunity to have their sons go off and bowl in college. There were a number of schools looking at them, people were taking notice to the things they were doing.”
The journey to college bowling was an abbreviated one for Nichols, as she didn’t start bowling until she got to high school. But hard work and dedication along with good coaching have her set up nicely going forward.
“Hallie, this is my second girl going on to bowl in college,” Walter said. “Hallie is one of the most improved bowlers I had in the program. She bowled outstanding all year. I couldn’t ask for anyone to work any harder. She hadn’t bowled before her freshmen year, she really came a long way.”
In a short 10 years time Walter has built a state powerhouse at Alder. Multiple state tournament appearances with both the boys and girls teams has been a result of coaching by Walter, his dad and assistant coach Jim, but also the commitment from the bowling athletes.
“I think what we do, we work hard, we open the door and give them an opportunity,” Rusty said. “You don’t have to be a gifted athlete to be a bowler, but you have to be an athlete. These kids are athletes, this takes skill, it’s a skilled sport to do. You can’t just pick up a bowling ball and throw 200 games consistently. We have good coaching, my dad and I put in a lot of time and create the opportunities. I think we will have more and more kids who will be doing this same thing in the coming years.”
The Shawnee State bowling program is entering it’s second season under the leadership of coach Bryan Sturgell and his wife Jani Sturgell.
“We’re looking to put Shawnee State on the national map,” Bryan Sturgell said. “We’re looking forward to adding these three Jonathan Alder athletes and if you’re a bowler at Jonathan Alder you will see my face a lot more in the future.”
Reach Chris Miles at 740-852-1616, ext. 1618 or via Twitter @MadPressSports.