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Saturday, January 16, 2016

Highlands Bowlers Ready for Postseason Run

Contributed Photo. The Highlands Bluebirds bowling team captured the Queen City Classic at Western Bowling Alley in Cincinnati over the weekend.
It has only been a Kentucky High School Athletic Association-sanctioned sport for five years.

But like many of its academic and athletic programs, the Highlands bowling teams are making their mark. Both have high postseason aspirations.

The Highlands boys team is undefeated so far after winning the Queen City Classic at the Western Bowing Alley in Cincinnati, which is the home alley of Cincinnati Elder. The event featured 37 men's teams from around the area.

Highlands has only given up two points this season. The Bluebirds are led by seniors Jake Farley, James Killen, Andrew Alice and Trevor Mattingly, junior Tyler Spicer and sophomore Andy Campbell. Campbell finished second in the Region 5 Tournament individually last year with a score of 1,071 points and fifth in the state with 1,110 points. There are 16 boys on the team.

"This year, we've been a team more than any year we've been together," Killen said. "If we have a goal in mind, there's no stopping us. There is nothing we can't achieve."

In its brief history, Highlands has a state runner-up finish to Scott County two years ago. The Bluebirds also finished region runner-up that year.

The Ladybirds are led by juniors Abbey Parrott, Kathryn Ball, Maddy Shelton and Katelyn Schneider. There are 12 girls on the team. Highlands has been to the state tournament twice in 2013 and 2015. They won the 5th Region title last year.

Campbell averages 242 points per game out of a possible 300 to lead the Bluebirds and Schneider leads the Ladybirds averaging about 164. Highlands Head Coach Glenn Schmidt wants to see the bowlers average 200 per game. He's owned the home lane for Highlands called La Ru Lanes in Highland Heights for 28 years.

"That's why we practice so we can work on those kind of things to make sure they don't have any bad habits," Schmidt said. "I watch them closely. If I see something I don't like, I let them know about it. They basically have to know how to shoot spares and the strikes will come."

There are seven points per game. Teams can take 12 per game. Teams score two each in the two regular games and two more off baker games where the top five bowlers take turns bowling rounds. The bottom score of the four on each team is dropped in determining the final score. The seventh point comes off overall pins. Some schools do not have enough bowlers to field a boys and girls team so they combine into a co-ed team and face other boys' teams. Individual games take place before the team events.

Schmidt said the approach is about adjusting to the lane conditions. Bowlers have to move to the left when the 10-pin at the far back right is left for a spare and to the right when the seven pin in the middle right row is left.

"Everything is timing. It's like any other sport," Schmidt said. "I tell them it's hand and foot coordination. You have to coordinate where your hands need to be and when you take your steps. If you have good timing, you can do with the bowling ball whatever you need to do. I can see the lines because I'm standing behind them watching them."

Highlands is again expected to compete with Simon Kenton and Campbell County for the Region 5 championship. The regional runner-up and champion go to the state tournament in Lexington. There are five girls and eight boys team in the region.

"We're working together as a team and trying to help each other as much as we can," Farley said. "We help each other get lined up. (Coach Schmidt) keeps us levelheaded and keeps in the game at all times."

Coaches and players say putting problems aside is crucial going into a game. Parrott said that is no different in bowling and will be a key for the Ladybirds.

"I think every good bowler knows if you're not in a good mood, you definitely don't bowl as well," Parrott said. "As a team, we're working on staying positive even though you don't get a mark in one frame. We support each other all the team."

Feb. 11 and 12 is state tournament at Eastland Lanes in Lexington.

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