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Willard girls bowling team makes history

By BUTCH WAGNER • Mar 1, 2017 at 9:32 PM

WILLARD — A veteran girls bowling team — comprised of five seniors and two juniors— will be the first at Willard High School to compete at the state championships Friday morning in Columbus.

Coach Steve Chambers' squad earned the berth in the 16-team Division II event at the Wayne Webb Lanes with a third-place finish last week in the district tournament in Rossford.

The Flashes' participants are seniors Aubrey Mathias, Kathleen Schaaf, Annie Cummings, Claire Buss and Hannah McClanahan along with juniors Kourtney Craft and Kristen Hurst.

Mathias carries a 179 average. Schaaf and Craft average 164, followed by McClanahan at 159, Hurst 154, Cummings 149 and Buss 148.

Although lacking the genuine high-average bowler, the group has fared quite well as a team.

"Our strength is in the Baker games in which five girls alternate frames (1-6, 2-7, 3-8- 4-9, 5-10) to determine the team score,” Chambers said. The highest game in that format has been 248.

The usual Baker game lineup consists of Schaaf in the leadoff position, followed by Cummings, McClanahan, Craft and Mathias. Hurst and Buss are mixed into the lineup at times.

"We've had individual girls qualify, but never a team in our bowling history that dates back to the 2001-2002 season, and the reason for our success is the girls have worked hard and have the right attitude, not only in bowling, but also in life," Chambers said.

"We are a seven-girl family that works so well together,” he added. “We win as a team, and lose as a team. The girls have a knack of reaching back to pick up each other, especially in the Baker games."

The format Friday is each team rolls three regular games, followed by six Baker games after which the cut will be made.The top eight teams move on to the bracket format (1-8, 2-7, 3-6, 4-5), in a best of five Baker games. The winners of the four matches advance to the semifinals and then the two remaining teams move on to the finals.

Willard's individual state participants were Amanda Sledge (twice) and Nikki Sims and Sarah Napier once.

The Flashes, who won the Northern Ohio League title for the third year in a row, realize they are facing one of the perennial state powers in Coldwater.

"They have won three of the last four Division II state championships, and won our district a week ago,” Chambers said. “Our goal is to try to stay as close as we can in the regular games, then come together in the Baker games — which has been our strongest point all year long.

"Right now, we just want to make the first cut, then take our chances,” he added.

Chambers, in his third year as the coach, is a gifted bowler who has recorded two 300 games this season at Dynasty Lanes in Willard — 20 total for his career — and also has the highest series at the lanes to this point of the 2016-2017 season at 791.

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