Alder bowlers continue to build program
By Chris Miles
In sports there are good teams and then there are good programs.
In the few short years of its existence, Jonathan Alder bowling coach Rusty Walker has watched a couple good Pioneers boys teams develop into what is now one of Ohio’s budding powerhouse programs.
With a combination of talented, hard-working athletes committed to getting better, the sky’s the limit for this program on the rise. The Pioneers finished eighth at last year’s state bowling championship, and with all the key players back in the mix the team is eyeing an even higher step up the ladder this season.
“This group of boys has continued a great tradition started by our first couple of talented teams,” Walker said. “While the core of the team is a very talented sophomore class (Zach Webb, Nathan Whiting, Nathan Yoder) they are still very young and getting better mentally to go with their great physical skills.”
Just how dedicated are these Pioneers?
Without any direction from their coaching staff, the Alder bowlers routinely get together on Sunday evenings to work on their games. It’s not just the Pioneers, the word has spread to other schools and other athletes have joined in on the get together.
This togetherness and camaraderie has helped build the family atmosphere surrounding the program.
“All the boys get along great,” the coach said. “With four of the starting five working part-time for the family run bowling business, these boys have opportunities bowling that other kids and teams only dream about.
“The boys get unlimited practice time, all year long, and they take full advantage of what is offered to them. Since mid-September on Sunday nights at 7 p.m. you can find the Jonathan Alder boys bowling team at Plain City Lanes. It’s an open team practice and they have friends and fellow high school bowlers come out and practice with them.”
Moving on up
The four returning starters from last year all have had their hand in on the meteoric rise of the Pioneers bowling program.
From championships to All-Ohio recognition the team is loaded and looking for bigger things.
They’ve captured three straight league championships, back-to-back sectional titles and a pair of district championships to go along with the eighth-place OHSAA state tournament finish last season.
While the collection of talented sophomores is the core of the squad, the team is led by senior Jaron Miller, a four-year starter who was a first-team All-Ohio selection last year. He’s being recruited by a number of college programs. He’s carrying a 218 average this season.
The trio of sophomore standouts bring a number of different attributes to the table. The collection of Webb, Whiting and Yoder figure to be the building blocks of Alder’s next step to state elite status.
According to their coach Webb (197 average) brings, “confidence, leadership, and enthusiasm to our team”. Whiting (201 avg.) is a “bowling nut” who’s hard work is paying off, “Nathan bowls over a 100 games a week. Nate is in the bowling center 6-7 days a week. No kid outworks him on the lanes. Yoder (204 avg.) has tremendous ability, “unlimited potential” are the words Walter uses. “Yoder has a release you can’t teach, and creates ball reaction that is unbelievable, the pins just fly around.”
The other varsity team members are freshman Sawyer Fleming (187 avg,) and sophomore Nick Martin (170 avg.). Fleming, “brings lots of youth bowling experience to the team, as he gets stronger physically his confidence gets better each time out.” While Martin, a first year bowler continues to improve. “Nick is greatly improved and will contribute to the teams success this season, as he continues to build confidence.”
For as close as the team members are, there is still a competitive spirit embedded in each individual on the team and that seems to be the driving force behind the team’s continued success.
“Each bowler wants to be the medalist each match or high man that day,” the coach said. “Each one of them can lead the team in scoring at anytime. Getting them to embrace whomever leads the team that day is what makes us a team.
“In high school bowling your team needs to have great individuals that can trust each other, pick each other up. Some days the lane conditions dictate to certain boys scoring while other’s may struggle, how they handle the struggling times is what will make them a great team and great players.
“The team has shown great trust so far this season in the Team Baker games, averaging a league high 199. Team championships are won winning baker games.”
Alder is undefeated this season and looks every part of a state tournament championship contender.