The Northmont Thunderbolts had lofty goals before they threw a single bowling ball this season.
As coach Ken Ray put it, “Right out of the gate, they wanted to go to the district — actually they wanted to go to state.”
The Thunderbolts, however, had never made it out of the sectional tournament — until Friday, that is, when the boys won their first sectional title with a 4,250 at Poelking Woodman Lanes. Perennial state qualifier Fairmont finished second with 4,111.
“We’re kind of the new kids in town but we’ve been doing well all season,” Ray said. “Most people bring their “A” game against us.”
The Thunderbolts started the season strong, winning both the preseason Greater Western Ohio Conference tournament and the Team USA Experience tournament. They would like to finish strong with a trip to state.
Northmont brought its own “A” games on Friday as four finished among the top 11. Sophomore Ricky Reed, who has been averaging 240 in recent weeks, led the charge with 695, second only to Centerville sophomore Troy Parks who bowled the tournament’s lone 700 series, a 710 to earn the individual sectional championship. Northmont’s Devin Herchenbach (678), Kyle Kessler (611) and Mike Kocher (602) also posted solid scores for the Thunderbolts.
While the Thunderbolts have had tournament success, wins did not come easy in the competitive GWOC Central, where Northmont finished 5-5 in conference play, as did Beavercreek. Fairmont and Centerville finished 8-2 and 7-3, respectively. All four advanced to the district tournament as did fellow GWOC powers Troy and Fairborn.
“Being in the GWOC has made us a better team,” Ray said. “There’s good competition and good rivalries and it gives us something to strive for.”
Second chance: Jack Gregory’s Skyhawks put the veteran coach’s ticker to the test Friday.
Gregory, 73, who suffered a heart attack in August 2011, was cautiously optimistic his Fairborn squad would make the district cut. The top six teams qualify and the Skyhawks were seventh after three games of regular play and after three Baker games. But the Skyhawks’ Baker game is their strength and Fairborn leaped past both Beavercreek and Wayne with a tournament-high 256 game to finish fifth.
“God brought me back for this,” Gregory said of coaching. “And I’m happy to be here.”
Sectional round-up: Bellefontaine led from the first game to the final frame, winning the sectional tournament at Poelking Marian Lanes with 4,279. Northwestern made a late run in Baker play with games of 225, 225 and 257 but settled for second with 4,220. Bellefontaine senior Roman Miller posted a tournament-high 773 to win the individual sectional title.
Middletown had some breathing room at Crossgate Lanes, clinching the sectional title with almost a 200-pin advantage over second-place St. Xavier, 4,315-4,120. Sparked by a 297 game, Moeller junior Philip Cleves won the individual sectional title with a 688 series.