High School Bowling: Urbana dedicates season to coach’s father

The Urbana Hillclimbers were on the edge of elimination at the Division II sectional boys bowling tournament. It was an unusual spot for the ‘Climbers, who had won four of the past five sectional titles.

But the Hillclimbers weren’t going to be denied a spot in the district championships. Not in the year of #carrythegary.

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Urbana has dedicated its season to Gary Oakes Sr., the father of coach Richard Oakes. Gary died of cancer on Jan. 12.

“My father was a big part of my coaching. He came to all the matches,” said Oakes, who also coaches football and track at Urbana. “He came to all the track meets and football games. As soon as (the team) found out he had cancer they got a pin from the local bowling alley and all signed it and told me to give it to my dad. … We won that match the same night they gave it to me. My dad gave it back to me and said this is your new good luck charm.”

How lucky has it been? The Hillclimbers dedicated their match against Northwestern on Jan. 16 to Oakes Sr. The team of Andru Troyer, Justin Brown, Austin Fisher, Kolin Bowdle and Nate Wright combined to roll at 300 in a Baker game at Victory Lanes in Springfield.

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On Jan. 29 the Hillclimbers dedicated their match to Troy Byrd at Bellefontaine’s TP Lanes. The Urbana 11-year old collapsed and died while playing basketball at the Champaign Family YMCA three days earlier. Brown rolled a 300 … with a little help on the final strike when the No. 7 pin took out the No. 10 pin.

“Justin was pretty calm. He was more nervous about the first two strikes (in the 10th frame) than the last one,” Oakes said. “The third one, he’d asked for more noise because we’d gotten silent. … The seven pin carried all the way over to the 10 pin. He gave me a hug and told me my dad was there because the seven pin carried over. It’s pretty special to me.”

Urbana looks to carry that momentum – and its lucky charm bowling pin – into the D-II district tournament Thursday at Beaver-Vu Bowl in Beavercreek. The top three boys teams and top three individuals not on qualifying teams advance to next week’s state tournament. In the girls tournament the top four teams and top four individuals qualify for state.

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“We clawed and scratched and fought (to qualify for district),” said Oakes, adding the Hillclimbers were missing a starter and received a solid effort from substitute Jacob Coffey. “This year we were a bowler down so we threw a kid in there. It’s the second day he’s ever bowled two-handed and he stepped up and played really big for us in the Baker games.

“They want to win it for him. They want to make him proud. I know my father is very proud of all of them. I’m proud of them. I can’t say enough about them.”

* Northwestern won the D-II boys sectional tournament and competes at district along with Kenton Ridge, Graham, Mechanicsburg, Greeneview, Greenon and Urbana. Northeastern’s Seth Boyd qualified as an individual.

* In the D-II girls district tournament, Graham, Greenon, Northwestern, Kenton Ridge and Mechanicsburg all qualified. Urbana’s Sarrah Baldwin and Lily Cooksey, Catholic Central’s Emilee Southward and Greeneview’s Anna Willingham qualified as individuals.

* The D-I girls sectional tournament was held Wednesday and the D-I boys tournament is Thursday.

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