Young but determined, the Greenon girls bowling team set its sights on the state tournament a year ago.
The Knights finished fifth last season at the girls Division II district tournament – the top four teams qualified to state. They were 66 pins shy of the cut.
“Last year, we were all pretty young and I don’t think we knew what to expect,” Greenon sophomore Mikayla Blair said. “We were more prepared this year.”
The Greenon girls squeaked out a state trip by just eight pins this season – edging out Cincinnati Christian for the fourth and final D-II girls state berth, 3,574 to 3,566.
“The focus all year was to get the team to state,” coach Josh Gossett said. “In this area, the competition is so tough, making it out of the sectional isn’t easy, much less the district.”
It was a season of firsts for the Knights as the first ever Greenon bowling team to earn a state berth had become only the second team in the Ohio Heritage Conference history to win the girls bowling title. Mechanicsburg had laid claim to the honor since the 2008-09 season.
“We’d like to think we’re starting a new tradition,” Gossett said.
The first-time state qualifiers proved they belonged in Columbus as the Knights finished fourth as a team at Wayne Webb’s Columbus Bowl – the highest finish among the area qualifiers. Versailles and Northwestern placed fifth and sixth, respectively. The young Knights – with five sophomores and a freshman on the roster – exceeded expectations.
“We’re still young but, last year, I think we were a little too young,” Gossett said.
While the Greenon girls came up big in Baker play, they also benefitted from some strong individual performances in the first three qualifying games. Blair posted a 185-267-146 – 598, good enough for fifth place in the individual standings and a spot on the first team All-Ohio. Her 267 game was both a career best and the highest individual game posted in the state tournament.
“I had no idea where I’d placed until they started announcing names,” the sophomore said. “I was thinking – actually hoping – for top 15. I was, honestly, very shocked.”
Blair’s twin sister Mackenzie finished 16th with a 541 while Greenon freshman Kay Devore posted a 512 and sophomore Makenzie Gossett – an individual state qualifier last season – rolled 503.
With both youth and experience, Gossett is already excited about the Knights prospects next season.
“We’ll be back here next year,” he said. “And we’ll be even more prepared.”
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