Ashley Falke’s confidence was at an all-time high.
The Springfield High School junior spent the entire week before the state bowling tournament practicing at Victory Lanes on the same oil pattern that was going to be laid down in Columbus. She knew the pattern like the back of her hand — and it paid off in a big way.
Falke bowled a 641 three-game series to claim the individual championship at the Division I OHSAA State Bowling Championships on Saturday at Wayne Webb’s Columbus Bowl.
“I was practicing really hard beforehand on the pattern,” Falke said. “That was my goal as soon as I walked in there.”
The junior bowled 191 the first game, but bounced back with a 216 and a 234 in her final two games to claim the title.
“I struggled the first two games, but I really bowled well the rest of the day,” Falke said. “I made a little adjustment and started hitting my mark.
She beat Wapakoneta’s McKenzie Wagner by four pins.
“I was in tears with happiness,” Falke said.
Wildcats senior Destiny Oty was eighth with a 612 and senior Alyssa White was 11th with a 591.
Falke will graduate early this spring and bowl collegiately at Urbana University next fall, meaning the state tournament was the last of her high school career.
“My teammates are like my sisters,” Falke said. “We did our last ‘Wildcats on 3’ and that was the end.”
Springfield qualified first for the eight-team match play championship. The Wildcats beat Akron Tallmadge 3-1 in the quarterfinals, but fell to eventual state champion Gahanna Lincoln 3-1 in the semifinals.
“We just couldn’t get it together,” said Wildcats coach Mike Beck. “We had a bad first game and got beat and in the second game. The third game we put a good game together, but everybody struggled that fourth game. Gahanna Lincoln bowled a good game. When you get into the matchplay part, you just never know what’s going to happen.”
To put it in perspective, the Wildcats finished third out of 189 Division I teams in Ohio, he said.
“We definitely wanted to win it,” Beck said, “but we still had to walk away with our heads high. … That’s definitely something to be proud of.”
Three years ago, Springfield went 1-13.This year, they won both the Clark County Meet and the Greater Western Ohio Conference Championship in the regular season before advancing to the state meet for the first time in school history.
“It was a great year, not just for me, but for all of us,” Falke said. “We all improved at least 10-20 pins more this year than last year. We made a big improvement.”
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