Columbian set to take on new territory at state

Boys State Bowling

It’s uncharted territory with familiarity.

Columbian makes its first appearance in program history at the Division I state bowling tournament today at Wayne Webb’s Columbus Bowl in Columbus, but coach Kory Walton said the event should not be that much different than other matches.

“I’ve been trying to tell them this is just another tournament,” he said. “We have three regular games and three baker games. I’ve told them we’ve done less in other tournaments and we’ve done more in other tournaments. I’m just trying to get them to strike.”

And the Tornadoes have been working on that.

They spent this past week working on hitting corner pins and picking up spares. Walton said the spares proved challenging at the sectional meet a few weeks ago and nearly kept the team from reaching the district.

But that’s been addressed.

“I just want them, if they don’t strike to make their spares. Open frames can kill a score,” Walton said. “I want them to pick up their spares. You don’t always strike, but if you have an opportunity to make a spare, you need to make that spare.”

With the format at state, that’s important.

The opening round has all 16 teams throw the usual three games, but then has just three Baker games. For comparison, the district tournament had six Baker games.

The Baker game format emphasizes team play. In it, all five team members roll two frames — Bowler 1 in Frames 1 and 6, Bowler 2 in Frames 2 and 7, Bowler 3 in Frames 3 and 8, Bowler 4 in Frames 4 and 9, and Bowler 5 in Frames 5 and 10 — in each game.

Pin scoring is the same as a regular game.

The top eight teams then will be seeded and advance to a bracket, where they will play in a best-of-five Baker game elimination format until a state champion is determined.

That latter format is a bit different from the regular season, but Walton said he feels good about Columbian’s chances.

After all, the Tornadoes used the Baker games in the district tournament to springboard their way to state, and Walton said the No. 1 and No. 2 seeds in the recent past have had a history getting knocked off in the bracket.

“I think we really have a shot,” he said. “I think if we make the top eight and make the bracket, it’s anybody’s bracket.

“I’ve got a few seniors, they’ve been to tournaments before, they know what it’s like. I know we’re going to have nerves. You’ve got to embrace the nerves. In my opinion, it’s good that they have the nerves,” Walton said. “I feel the seniors have been pulling their weight this year and they’re one of the reasons we’re where we are.”

While the facility for the state tournament will be new to the Tornadoes, the type of alleys used won’t.

Wayne Webb’s Columbus Bowl has synthetic lanes with wood approaches, while Seneca Lanes in Fostoria, where the team practices, has wooden lanes and approaches. Although the Tornadoes haven’t ever bowled at the state site, they have competed on similar lanes.

“It is a concern, but it’s not really a major concern because all the lanes have the same amount of boards and they’re all the same length and the same width,” Walton said. “In the end, it’s not all that different. I don’t think it’s going to be all that much of an issue.”

Having good bowlers helps, he said, adding that Columbian could also wind up with some high individual placers.

Walton said senior Keygan Yonts set the school record of 671 in last year’s sectional and he and the rest of the team — seniors Davyd McCray and Spencer George, juniors Tommy Peer and Owen Thomsic, and freshmen Zavier Sherman and Michael Ross — have each gone on scoring runs recently.

“I think our best chanced to have a top-10 finisher would be Tommy Peer or Keygan Yonts. But I don’t put it past any of my bowlers to be up there,” Walton said. “We all have our moments and if we happen to be hitting our spots, any of them could be up there.

“I don’t put it past any of my guys to get on a run and put up some big scores,” he said.