BEAVERCREEK — It may have looked like a rebuilding year for the Troy girls bowling team — after losing Kayleigh McMullen, Kaylee Kalmar, Kylie Schiml and Morgan Shilt to graduation.
Instead, Aiyana Godwin, Kiandra Smith, Chloe Steiner, Kristin Sedam, Libby Burghardt and Kayanna Bidle have turned it it into a reloading year.
The Trojans finished fourth at the district tournament to earn a second straight trip to the state tournament. Troy will bowl at Wayne Webb’s Columbus Bowl on Friday.
“I think we kind of expected it to be a rebuilding year,” Burghardt said.
The three returning pieces were Godwin, Smith and Sedam, all juniors.
It was a big goal (to get back to state),” Godwin, who led the MVL with a 192.8 average said. “I didn’t expect it, just because we lost so many key aspects (bowlers) off last year’s team.”
Troy girls bowling coach Rob Dever wasn’t sure either.
“You always want to make it to state,” he said. “But, we graduated a lot of good bowlers. They came on as the season went on. I think when we started bowling strong competition and the kids started bowling well, that really helped us.”
Things were not without drama at the district tournament.
Godwin bowled well enough in the three qualifying games to earn an individual berth with games of 177, 204 and 238 for a 619 series. But, Troy was seventh in the teams standings and needed to move up to fifth to make it as a team.
“I was really nervous,” Godwin said. “Because we wanted to make it as a team.”
The Trojans averaged 193 in the first four baker games to move all the way up third at one point.
“At the beginning of the year, we struggled in baker games,” Dever said. “Then it became a strength later in the year.”
But, the final two baker games were 160 and 127.
And they weren’t sure where they stood.
“We were 17th after the first team game,” Dever said. “To have worked all the way up to third or fourth and then miss out because of a clunker in the last game, that would have been heartbreaking. It was definitely and emotional roller coaster.”
Especially for Godwin.
”It was really stressful,” she said. “We did really well in the baker games until the last one. We had a bunch of splits. Even though we had a bad game, I felt like if I had thrown strikes in the 10th frame we would have been fine. So, I was blaming myself but coach told me it wasn’t my fault. So, when they made the announcement (that they were going to state), that was a huge relief.”
Burghardt was excited for multiple reasons.
“I never expected it (to be bowling as a state as a freshman),” Burghardt said. “But, also I am happy for our seniors (Chloe Steiner, Kayanna Bidle) to get finish their careers at the state tournament. It is exciting.”
Sedam said experience will be an advantage Friday.
“The three juniors (Aiyana Godwin, Kiandra Smith, Kristin Sedam) all bowled over there last year,” she said. “We have come together as a team. We always seem to bowl well in the baker games.”
Godwin feels like she can compete with the best in the state in the individual competition — and with good reason.
“I struggled at the start of the season, because I mostly played golf in the summer and hardly picked up a bowling ball,” she said. “But, I picked it up in the second half of the season. I don’t know if they have an all-tournament team, but if they do I think I can be on that. I won’t be playing golf this summer, I will be bowling.”
Dever agreed with her assessment.
“Aiyana (Godwin) turned it on midway through the season and she has been bowling great ever since,” he said. “She was the MVL Athlete of the Year (in girls bowling).”
Bidle is confident the team can do well on Friday and make the top eight and get into the quarterfinals. Last season, Troy advanced to the semifinals.
”I never expected to be bowling at state,” Bidle said. “Just because we lost so many good bowlers off last year’s team. I think we were all really nervous going into the baker games. But, we have come together as a team and I think we can do really well at state.”
After turning a rebuilding season into a re-loading one