Bowling Birds strike out in region tournament


The girls’ bowling team pose with the region 5 runner-up trophy

     This week, the bowling Birds went to the regional tournament at SuperBowl Erlanger. The girls regional tournaments took place on Monday, March 15, the boys took place on Tuesday, March 16, and the unified tournament took place on Wednesday, March 17.

     For both Monday and Tuesday, a singles tournament was held in the morning. Seniors Abby Bach, Amanda Parrott, Tessa Killen and junior Kristen Egan represented Highlands in the girls division. Senior Kyle Tierney and sophomores Kurrin Frank, Jake Venneman, and Nick Gilkerson represented in the boys division. 

     The singles tournament starts with each athlete bowling three seeding games. From there, the games are added into a consecutive series and the athletes are seeded. Only the top eight bowlers move on from that point. From there, the top eight bowl two more games which was added to their consecutive series. Only the top four move on to knock-out rounds and will represent region five in the state tournament. 

     In the girls’ singles tournament, only Bach and Killen made the top four. Parrott placed ninth by a difference of 12 pins, and was eliminated along with Egan. 

     “The regional singles tournament is always difficult, but, after I got out, I just really focused and pushed myself that afternoon to help the team get to state,” Parrott explained.

     After the top four qualifying rounds, Killen seeded sixth, missing out on the top four and state qualifications by 11 pins. Bach seeded in second, but the road didn’t stop there for her. In the end, Bach won the region five singles tournament and brought home a first-place medal. 

     Unfortunately, no boys advanced to the top eight in the boys’ singles tournament. Tierney had the highest consecutive series of 503, averaging a 168. 

     The team tournament was held in the afternoon and had a similar layout as the singles. In this portion of the tournament, each team is only permitted to bring eight bowlers. Each of the eight athletes from each team bowls one game. The two lowest games are dropped, but the remaining six are added up for seeding. From there, the teams go into knockout rounds via baker games. The first team to win three baker games moves on to the next round, and only the top two teams make it to state.

     The girls’ team tournament was much smaller than the boys’ since there are only four girls’ teams in the region (any co-ed team competes in the boys’ division). This meant that the Highlands girls’ team only had to take out one team to make it to state.

     Despite having some shaky games, the girls ranked second in seeding, which is what they wanted. They knew that if they were seeded fourth they would have to go up against their rivals, the Campbell County Camels, since history shows that Campbell County always seeds first. Because of their second-placed seed, the Birds went up against the Simon Kenton Pioneers–the same team that took them out in last year’s team tournament. 

     With revenge in their eyes, the Birds bowled an astronomical set of baker games. They took out the Pioneers with a baker set of 3-1. With that sealed, near knock-out win, the Birds confirmed their spot in the state team tournament and took on the Campbell County Camels in the finals. The Birds lost to the Camels with a baker set of 1-3, but were pleased enough to bring home the runner-up trophy. 

    The boys’ bowling team had a great seeding round in the tournament and ended up seeding fifth overall with a combined series of 879. This led them to go up against the fourth seed–the Newport Central Catholic Thoroughbreds. Unfortunately, the Birds lost 1-3 to the Thoroughbreds in the first round of bakers. This took them out of the running for state, and they came home empty-handed. 

     “We had a great first game, couldn’t put it together consistently after,” Coach Andy Eckerle explained. “[We] look to get better over the summer and come back in the winter.”

The Unified Bowling Team take a group photo before the regional tournament.

     The unified bowling team competed on the last day of regionals. A unified bowling match is in a modified baker style. Peer tutors are paired up with unified athletes for the duration of the season. The peer tutor bowls the odd frames and the unified bowler bowls the even frames. This pattern continues for the duration of the match, and the teams are seeded by their final score. The same format is used for knock-out rounds, and the team with the higher score moves on.

     There were four Highlands pairs in the unified tournament lineup: Seniors Addy Bracken and Jacob Schikler, senior Riley Dungan and junior Mateo Gutierrez, junior Evia Combs and senior Abby Sandlin, and seniors Priscilla Caballero and Kaitlyn Gonzalez. 

     The individual Highlands Unified pairs seeded fourth, tenth, eleventh, and fourteenth, respectively, after the qualifying round. Despite personal bests and profound teamwork, none of the pairs advanced past the top eight, meaning that no Highlands Unified team will represent region five at the state tournament. 

     The KHSAA Bowling State Tournament will be held next week in Louisville, Kentucky. Since spectators are heavily restricted, the bowling team hopes to live stream the event via Facebook Live on the Highlands High School Bowling page. Take the cake at state, Birds!