A week or so before the Division II sectional bowling tournament, Jonathan Alder coach Rusty Walter was supremely confident in the fact that his boys team would finish high enough to qualify for the district tournament the following week. As for his girls team, Walter had high hopes that one and maybe a couple individuals would get out.
But his Pioneers surprised many on Friday, Feb. 14 as they finished in the 12th and final district qualifying spot and will make the girls program’s first-ever appearance in the district on Saturday, Feb. 22 at HP Lanes in Columbus.
The Alder team score of 2,751 was a mere four pins better than Ridgedale (2,747). Freshman Mackenzie Heimlich was the sectional singles champion with her three-game series of 594. That included games of 167,213 and 214.
Teammate Kaylee Griest finished (26th) overall with a 450 series (161-132-157) series. Seniors Kayla Reichenbach (275), Rachel Martin (339) and Danielle Watts (322) join Griest and Heimlich on the historic first district-qualifying team.
The Alder girls weren’t the only ones making waves at the sectional, London freshman Alex Bennett’s 434 (155, 118, 161) and Madison-Plains sophomore Brittney Summers’ 406 (144, 144, 118) also qualified for the district as individuals.
The boys team expected to be among the top squads at the sectional and their third-place finish (4,007) was behind only sectional champion Buckeye Valley (4,195) and runner-up Highland (4,037).
“It was a good effort by the boys,” Walter said. “But we still haven’t had the best performance from all the boys in the same set.”
The boys were led not by either of their top two bowlers this season, but by senior Dave Adkins who put together a strong performance with a 652 series (259, 244, 149) which placed him fourth overall.
“Dave Adkins had a great day, tossing 14 strikes in a row at one time,” the coach said.
The Pioneers with the highest averages coming in, Nathan Whiting and Nathan Yoder, finished with a 610 and 591 respectively. Whiting had games of 237, 169 and 204, while Yoder finished with a 215, 181 and 196.
The Madison-Plains boys (3,343) just missed qualifying for the district tournament by just 19 pins. The Golden Eagles ended up in 16th place.
Plains was led by junior Chris Faulkner, who put together a 659 series (221-226-212) which was good for third-place overall, the highest non-team qualifier and guaranteed him a spot in this weekend’s district tournament.
The district will take place on Saturday, Feb. 22 at HP Lanes, 202 Innis Road, Columbus. The girls will start at 8 a.m., the boys tournament will start at 1 p.m.
Two girls teams plus the two high scoring individuals not on a qualifying team, as well as three boys teams plus the three high scoring individuals not on a qualifying team will advance to the state tournament at Wayne Webb’s Columbus Bowl in Columbus on Feb. 28 and March 1.
Chris Miles can be reached at (740) 852-1616, ext. 18 or via Twitter @MadPressSports.