By John Bombatch
BEAVERCREEK — Both programs can boast of recent state titles. Both have placed among the state’s top-5 in three of the past four years. So what is it that makes the Beavercreek boys and girls bowling teams so good?
Two things: They’re battle tested in the ever competitive Greater Western Ohio Conference, and their home bowling establishment — Beaver-Vu Lanes — has been churning out quality bowlers from its competitive youth bowling programs for years.
That’s why the Beavercreek girls team won the Division I state title two seasons ago during the 2013-‘14 season. It’s also why the Beavercreek boys team is the defending Division I state champions this year.
Beavers coach Bob Bobbitt doesn’t feel as if his bowlers have felt any pressure in being the state’s best. And he doesn’t feel that other teams are intimidated by them, either.
“I don’t feel that there is any added pressure on them, and I don’t think it gives them an advantage, because we compete in probably the most competitive division in the state — the GWOC Central. All we did last year was beat up on each other, and I think you’ll see more of the same this time around.”
The boys championship team had to defeat fellow GWOC Central foe Huber Heights Wayne in the state finals to earn their crown. It’s reportedly the first time that an Ohio boys bowling team final had been contested between two teams from within the same conference.
Six of the seven bowlers from last season’s boys championship team — seniors Jaemes Chouinard, Matt Madsen, Eric Clemmer, Cole Meredith, and juniors Cole Dorsten and Forrest Ewing — are back this year. Dorsten’s brother, Jacob, is the only graduate from last year’s title campaign. But already the team has felt the taste of defeat in the rugged world of GWOC bowling.
On Thursday, visiting Sidney nipped the defending champs by nine pins (2,492-2,483) to claim its fifth win of the early high school bowling season. That dropped Beavercreek to 1-1 overall.
The boys maintained that they don’t feel as if there’s a target on their backs as the state’s defending champions.
“I don’t think it adds pressure on us. I think it motivates people we are competing against to bowl their best, and so we just have to step up and do better as a team,” said Clemmer after Thursday’s loss.
“Yeah, (being the defending champs) motivates other teams to be the one to knock us off, but we don’t feel any added pressure,” added fellow senior Chouinard.
Clemmer led Beavercreek’s boys with a two-game 465 series in the loss. Madsen (429) and Chouinard (446) also rolled 400+ series for the Beavers. Cole Dorsten is tops in game average so far, with a 213.3.
“That’s just how this league is,” Bobbitt said of the nine-point loss. “Today’s match came down to a spare, and that’s how it’s going to be all season long.”
The Beavercreek girls team placed third at state last season. They won their second league match in as many tries, handing Sidney a 2,141-1,980 decision.
Brittany-Ann O’Connor led the Beavercreek girls with a two-game 387 tally, and teammate J’Dee Sandin was next with a 377 two-game series. Raven Cooper leads the team with a 214.4 average thus far.
Bobbitt quickly deflects most of the credit for his teams’ successes. He’s very thankful to be bowling at a place like Beaver-Vu, however.
“We’re blessed with a lot of bowling talent in this community,” he said. “And you have a place like Beaver-Vu that just has a tremendous Saturday morning youth training program. They are constantly offering competitive youth tournaments that these kids, and actually kids come to bowl here from other schools, too. I think it just helps prepare them for the long run.
“You’ve gotta credit Beaver-Vu for a lot of the development of these kids. When they get to the high school level, there’s not a whole lot that I need to do. I do the tweaking, but their fundamentals are already there.”
The Beavercreek teams will be up for yet another test, beginning at 9 a.m. Saturday in the GWOC Kick-Off Invitational at Poelking South, in Centerville.