COLUMBUS — Jonathan Alder High School bowling has built itself into one of the best programs across the state of Ohio, but unfortunately the Pioneers haven’t had a whole lot of success at the state level to justify that claim.
That was until Friday, March 3, when the Pioneers boys finally broke through at the state tournament held at Wayne Webb’s Columbus Bowl. Alder was on top of its game, rolled its way through the qualifying round and all the way to the state championship match against Mechanicsburg.
But the state title wasn’t meant to be as it fell in three games to the Indians. The Pioneers were thus forced to settle for the state runner-up trophy. The finish is Alder’s best in program history.
“We struggled in the finals to get it going, and for a couple boys the ball got a little heavy bowling for that first state bowling title,” Alder coach Rusty Walter said. “Congratulations to Mechanicsburg, we have great respect for Coach (Matt) Mayberry and Coach (David) Bush they are our good neighbor rivals and run a great high school program over there.”
The state’s top 16 teams competed in a qualifying round that included three regular games and three Baker games. After the qualifying round Alder was third, rolling team games of 946, 903 and 899 as well as Baker totals of 207, 180 and 201 for a grand total of 3,336.
That total seeded the Pioneers behind 2017 state champion St. Henry (3,392) and St. Paris Graham (3,358). Mechanicsburg sat in fifth (3,282).
In the best of five quarterfinal against Uhrichsville Claymont, the Pioneers won the first two games (192-138 and 151-149) but dropped a tight game three (191-186) as well as the fourth game (214-146). But in the fifth and deciding game Alder bounced back to win 189-148.
In the semifinal against a good Girad team the Pioneers again won 3-2. The boys fell behind 2-1 before rallying to win games four (238-162) and five (215-158 to advance to the program’s first state finals match.
The Pioneers ran out of magic in the final against the Indians losing in three 190-129, 180-161 and 211-161.
Sophomore Luke Honigford led the team with a 597 series (205, 193, 199) and finished 13th overall to earn Honorable Mention All-Ohio honors. Senior Zach Otto finished 33rd with a 552 (174, 161, 217). Jacob Schrock was 34th with a 551 (206, 193, 152).
“Luke bowled really good today for his first time starting in the state finals,” Walter said. “I thought all the boys bowled great at times and struggled at times as well, and the team contributed in the Baker game with nearly every boy making a big shot. The scoring was at moderate pace and you had to make good quality shots, spare shooting was a premium again.
“I was a great season for the boys team, we competed in the outstanding (Central Buckeye Conference) loaded with good teams, got better each week through the postseason winning the sectionals, districts and competing at the state finals to final match. Seniors Zach Otto and Joshua Schrock are off to Shawnee State next season, and the team looks to be very strong again returning four starters and six returning bowlers. We expect great off-season progress and lots of season tournament action from Andrew and Nathan Clark, Jake Schrock, Luke Honigford and Josh DeVore.”
Alder girls place 13th
The Alder girls finished 13th at the state tournament.
The Lady Pioneers had a strong game one, finishing with an 811 which put them in sixth place. But a disappointing 737 in game two dropped the ladies 70 pins behind the pace. After a 807 in the third game they were 100 pins behind the cut heading into the Baker games.
The team’s struggled continued as it had Baker scores of just 135, 162 and 128 to finish 198 pins behind the final qualifying spot.
Shawnee State University commit senior Hallie Nichols led the team with a 22nd-place finish with games of 197, 161 and 172 for a 530 total.
“The ladies really struggled this year on the transition of the lanes and flip from the low end to high of the center,” Walter said. Senior Rena Kirts really struggled today and it was hard on her, she has been a such a great four-year bowler. The left wasn’t really good today and the lanes just never came to her.”
Senior Rachel Kaeser was 46th with a 486 series (162, 155, 169), sophomore Emily Walker had a 463 (169, 156, 138) which placed her tied for 57th.
The Alder senior class which consists of Rachel Kaeser, Rena Kirts and Hallie Nichols have had a memorable career. It included four OHSAA State Tournament appearances, three league and league tournament championships, three sectionals championships, three Central District titles and a sixth and seventh place finish in the state finals.
“The team looks to rebuild a little next season,” Walter said. “Cierra Clark will be looking to be one our teams leaders with freshman Lana Kirts and junior Tabitha Bartoe looking to compete for the varsity spots. The coaching staff is really hoping Emily Walker returns for her junior season, Emily is great softball player and has verbally committed to Ohio University. We have a couple outstanding softball players and we’ll work with them and their schedules to get them on the lanes.”
The coach couldn’t say enough good things about his two state tournament teams.
“It was another outstanding season by the Pioneer bowling teams,” Walter said. “We have great kids, and families that support the sport of bowling, support Jonathan Alder sports programs and are great people in the community as well. Getting that state runner-up finally helps validate the success of our program, and raises the bar for future teams to meet.”
Reach Chris Miles at 740-852-1616, ext. 1618 or via Twitter @MadPressSports.
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