By Chris Chaney
A near-perfect regular season has led the Glen Este Lady Trojans to an Eastern Cincinnati Conference championship, a sectional championship and head coach Kathy Demarko hopes a state tournament berth stemming from this week’s district tournament at Beaver-Vu lanes in Beavercreek.
“One thing I’ve noticed is that this team has peaked at the end of the year,” Demarko said. “Some teams have their scores peak in the middle of the season, but ours have peaked at the end, which has been a really nice way for it to happen.”
That statement was never more true than on Thursday, Feb. 20 at Crossgate Lanes when the Lady Trojans waxed their competition, taking the sectional by more than 115 pins over second-place Lebanon.
Glen Este’s Fab Five of Leslie Campbell, Emily Doppes, Gabby Ruehlman, Haley Vogelgesang and Drew Coulter were among the top-27 individual bowlers at the section with all but Coulter (by a pin) having scored high enough to advance to the district individually had the team not made it.
“Those five girls became the starting five together and as a unit started peaking at the same time and you usually don’t get that,” Demarko explained. “You usually only get one or two that peak at the end and one or two that peak in the middle, but for once they all came together and started to click as a really good team towards the end. For whatever reason with those starting five, the mix is just there; they have that mojo.”
Each of the past three seasons, this group, led by Campbell, Ruehlman and Vogelgesang, has advanced to the district tournament as team, but come up short of a state berth. This year, with that experience under their belt and some savvy scheduling by Demarko, the Lady Trojans are poised to advance up to Columbus.
“We just came out of a quad match against some Dayton teams (two weeks ago) at Beaver-Vu and it was a great match to end our season with because it put us in the house that we were going to hit at districts, which is what I wanted to do,” Demarko said. “(The girls) kicked butt. They walked in with an attitude and walked out with a four-team win. It showed them that they are capable of carrying themselves against Dayton teams.
“Before, everybody was scared of Dayton teams and rightfully so, they’re tough. They eat, sleep and die bowling. We are now in the mix and we should be able to finish in the top-four at districts. We’re good enough, we have the averages to prove it, we have the game totals to prove it and now all we need to do is go in there and have everybody on their ‘A’ game and we should be able to do this.”
The boys’ team won’t be joining their female counterparts at Beaver-Vu as a team, coming up just short finishing in eighth place as seven teams advanced, but two individuals qualified and one will be competing.
Brady Dunigan and Ryan Stroup qualified as individuals, but Dunigan had to give up his spot due to a previous commitment. He will be traveling to Washington DC as result of earning the top score on the American Legion’s Americanism Test.
One name conspicuously absent from those advancing individually was Blake Huber, the senior captain of the Trojans who boasts one of the best averages in the area.
“This is the kind of captain he turned out to be,” Demarko said of Huber. “He saw how (his teammates) were struggling and he pulled himself out (of the second game) to give a teammate a chance to warmup so that he would be ready for the following game. As a captain, he knew by pulling himself out that if the team didn’t make it, then he wouldn’t be able to have a chance at state. It was really impressive. He’s a class act.”
Unfortunately, the Trojans came up 17 pins short of seventh place and a ticket to the districts.
Huber will have not only his teammates to cheer on at the district tournament, but also his younger brother, Nic, an Amelia freshman, who was the high scorer at the Crossgate Sectional.
Other local individual qualifiers include a pair of Milford girls and a pair of Amelia girls. Milford’s Racheal Mitchell was the highest scoring individual not on a qualifying team at Crossgate, bowling a three-game total of 541. She will be joined by teammate Brandi Norman who bowled a 512.
Amelia freshman Kristina Hodges was the second highest scoring individual among non-qualifying teams, bowling a three-game total of 537. Her teammate Brittany Koehnke advanced as well by virtue of her 497.
The girls’ district tournament was held on Wednesday, Feb. 26 at Beaver-Vu lanes and the boys’ district was held on Thursday, Feb. 27.
For scores from Beavercreek, log on to the Southwest District Athletic Board website at swdab.org.