COLERAIN TWP. — Somebody asked Jake Michael what it was like to be going to the Southwest District Division I district boys bowling tournament.
“I don’t know,” the Talawanda High School senior replied. “I’ve never been.”
Michael and his Brave teammates took care of that business Thursday. They charged back from sitting ninth after the first three rounds to post the third-highest Baker round total — one behind Northwest and Oak Hills — and finish sixth in the sectional tournament at Colerain Bowl.
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“It feels great,” said Michael, whose 617 through the first three rounds topped Talawanda and helped keep the Braves in contention. “I did what I could to keep up morale and keep us going.”
“We worked on our spare game,” said Talawanda coach Andrew Nieman, the Brave coach for all four years of the program’s existence. “We didn’t leave many out there.”
District qualifiers as individuals were Lakota East sophomore Kyle Seiler and freshman Alexander Swinney, and Hamilton junior Alex Deaton.
They join Division I girls district team qualifiers Fairfield and Hamilton, who earned their berths in Wednesday’s sectional tournament. Lakota East senior Anna Schambow, Talawanda senior Emma Steigerwald and sophomore Gracelyn Steigerwald, and Edgewood sophomore Becca Criste qualified as individuals.
The boys district tournament is scheduled for Wednesday and the girls are due to bowl Thursday, all at Beavercreek’s Beaver-Vu Bowl.
The top seven boys team and top seven individuals not on qualifying teams earned berths in the district tournament. The top eight girls teams and top eight girls not on qualifying teams moved on to the district tournament.
East finished ninth among the 18 girls teams on Wednesday, followed by Talawanda at 14th, Franklin 15th and Edgewood 18th. Hamilton’s boys finished 10th among the 19 teams on Thursday, followed by East 11th, Edgewood 13th and Franklin 14th.
Talawanda, which finished third in the Southwest Ohio Conference, bounced back from 13th out of 15 teams at last year’s Crossgate Lanes sectional.
“We worked a lot on our mental game … and, really, just experience,” Nieman said.
Following Michael in the Brave’s scoring were junior Gaege Feix, sophomore Trevor Fowler, and seniors Jarrett White and Aiden Lingsch. The Brave saved their best for last, piling up 226 pins in the last Baker game — the most of the six — to hold off Wilmington and finish with five more pins than the Hurricane.
Seiler and Swinney give East a combined five individual qualifiers over the last two seasons. Three are underclassmen, including Michael Gehr, who qualified last season as a freshman.
“Overall, we were young this season,” said coach Rick Mino, whose Thunderhawks finished tied with Lakota West for eighth place in the Greater Miami Conference. “We’re going to be good next season.”
Like Talawanda, Deaton rode his spare game to become the second Big Blue bowler to qualify in the last three seasons.
“He had a solid spare game,” Hamilton coach Darius Detherage said. “He concentrated on converting those spares. That’s when he exercised good judgment.”