Jared Berger needed a strong finish to make Badin High School boys bowling history Thursday.
Of course, it was time to break out the socks.
The senior rolled a 258 in his final game at the Division II district tournament at Beaver-Vu Bowl, and it was good enough to earn a spot in next week’s state tourney.
“I was looking back (heading into the third game) and seeing guys dropping some big numbers, and I actually rolled up my pant legs with some fun socks,” said Berger, who had a 206-199-258—663 series to place third in the individual standings.
“I decided to wear some Old Spice socks today to bring a little swag and confidence into it. I loosened up and found my mark and stayed there. I got a little lucky in a couple turns, but I found the mark and stayed there.”
Berger is the first Ram to qualify for the boys state tournament since the Ohio High School Athletic Association began sanctioning the sport in 2006-07.
Badin senior Stephanie O’Neil qualified on the girls side with a 174-185-203—562 series, making her the third BHS girl to advance to state — Hannah Morris (2011-12 and 2012-13) and Alyssa Marshall (2008-09) both qualified when the tournament was just one division.
“Honestly … I felt like I was going to faint,” O’Neil said of learning she was a state qualifier. “I’m just mainly speechless. I have to thank my coaches for helping me to get to where I am today. I have to thank my parents for always supporting me. There’s no other words I can say.”
Versailles took the girls team title and will be joined at state by St. Paris Graham, Springfield Northwestern and Bellefontaine Benjamin Logan. Badin placed sixth, 189 pins short of the last qualifying squad.
Claire Stiens finished 21st for the Rams with a 202-179-147—528 series, while teammate Carly Fields was 27th at 169-184-167—520.
“The girls have bowled well all year,” said Becky Miller, who shares Badin coaching duties with Rikki Bell. “They went to sectionals and killed it (finishing second at Colerain Bowl), and they did really well for themselves today. There’s just a lot more competition up here.
“And we’ve got a state qualifier. Stephanie threw the ball nice, and she made her spares. That’s all you can ask for.”
O’Neil was eighth in the individual standings and one of four state qualifiers not on advancing teams. She’ll bowl in the D-II state girls tournament March 3 at Wayne Webb’s Columbus Bowl in Columbus.
“Coach Becky was telling me that it’s much easier up at state and districts is very hard to get past,” O’Neil said. “Hopefully it all comes down and I won’t have a panic attack or won’t faint (at state), but I know when I get back to school, they’ll all support me either way.”
She’s a longtime bowler who did step away from the sport for a time while at Badin.
“Freshman year I wasn’t really wanting to do bowling because I didn’t really like it during grade school,” O’Neil said. “I tried volleyball and I didn’t like that, so I was like, ‘I’ll just get back into bowling.’ I got back into it, and I really enjoy every minute of it.”
Berger, one of three individuals headed for the D-II state boys event March 2 in Columbus, traveled a somewhat different path. He didn’t start bowling competitively until his sophomore year.
“I came in to kind of cover the winter season since baseball’s coming around,” Berger said. “I loved it, and it just took off from there. I would thank my mentors and my coaches for that.”
His initial reaction to qualifying for state? “A grin ear to ear,” Berger said.
The Ram boys were runners-up in last week’s sectional at Colerain Bowl and took 11th place in the district. Champion Graham, second-place Mechanicsburg and No. 3 Urbana garnered state team berths.
Badin’s Mark Brugger finished 42nd with a 205-160-201—566 series.
“I’m super proud of the boys,” Bell said. “We didn’t think they were going to make it past sectionals, and they killed it in sectionals and made it to district. Now we have a kid going to state, and that’s awesome. Jared definitely saw where we needed to do better and stepped his game up for everybody today.”
Cincinnati Christian had boys and girls teams at the district event, with the boys finishing 16th and the girls 12th. The Cougars were led by Tyler Parker (48th, 164-210-180—554) and Cheyenne Wilson (15th, 191-153-201—545), respectively.
“Really, we bowled who we were and a little better in some spots,” CCS coach Ken Peters said. “We’re still waiting on our first state qualifier. We’ve had a couple girls within 20 pins a few years, but we just haven’t gotten to that threshold yet.”
Both Cougar teams are becoming regulars at the district level. The girls captured their first sectional championship last week at Colerain Bowl.
“We came from a 103-pin deficit going into the Bakers and won by about 120,” Peters said. “That’s the first time we’ve ever even had a chance to get first in the sectionals, and the girls had a great time doing it.
“We’ve built our program because we get freshmen to bowl. We had 29 kids this year out of a school with maybe 280 in the high school, so I had 10 percent of the high school bowling. Now we’re going to start working on a middle-school program.”
Middletown Christian placed eighth in the boys standings and was paced by Levi McClurkin, who was 21st with a 183-223-204—610 series.
Fenwick’s Kevin Gaston was 51st (152-184-207—543) in the boys event. On the girls side, Middletown Christian’s Beau Pangard (141-157-146—444) and Kate Byrum (137-142-123—402) were 59th and 72nd, respectively, and Fenwick’s Madison Lankheit was 68th (111-161-140—412).
Top 3 Teams And Individuals Advance To State
1. St. Paris Graham 4,182 pins (3,037 regulation, 1,145 Baker games)