The Highlands girls ended up losing to Lexington Bryan Station in the first round of the state tournament. Highlands made it back to the state tournament finishing runner-up to Campbell County in the Region 5 Tournament.
"The state has changed the condition to a recreational shot compared to a challenge condition they had out last year," said Glenn Schmidt, Highlands Head Coach. "We've been practicing on that. That should put them in better position to be able to handle the lane condition."
The Bluebirds have been to the state tournament five years in a row and six times total winning three Region 5 championships. But Highlands has not made it past the first round of the state tournament.
Seniors Emerel Woody, Erin Parrott along with sophomores Abby Bach and Tessa Killen bring state experience to the table for the Bluebirds. Senior Michaela Brown and freshman Kristen Egan are also going to the tournament.
Bach has qualified for the state tournament again individually. Woody and Parrott tied for fourth in the singles division, but Woody won the rolloff to advance to the stepladder round. Woody beat Bach before losing to Newport's Mirena Combs in the next round.
"The team this year has really been focusing on bonding with one another," Woody said. "I think team bonding is the most important part of the team because if you're not close with your team members, you aren't going to work together. We really want to be there for one another."
The Highlands boys beat Pendleton County in the region quarterfinals before losing to Simon Kenton in the region semifinals. They missed out on the state tournament for the third straight year.
But Bluebird seventh grader Alex Bach made the state tournament individually. He finished in the top four of the semifinals to make it to the stepladder round. Bach finished region runner-up to Jonathan Cummins of Simon Kenton in the region title game.
"Basically, he's been bowling all his life ever since he was a really small kid (2.5 years old)," Schmidt said. "He's well ahead of a lot of the other bowlers because of the experience he's had by bowling in youth leagues and different tournaments up to this point."
Highlands had its first individual state champion last year in Andy Campbell. Campbell prepared for every scenario before dominating the field at the state tournament.
"You just have to keep on practicing and keep yourself going to do better and better," Alex Bach said. "If you throw a bad shot, you always have to look forward to the next frame and put it behind you. You think to the future. Don't think about it."
The Highlands boys last won region in 2016. The Bluebirds finished state runner-up to Scott County in 2014.
The individual tournament starts at 11:30 a.m. on Thursday. The girls team tournament starts at 8:15 a.m. Saturday.