Hambone! Riders Claim Fourth Straight WBL Title

Coaches and bowlers of the St. Marys girls bowling team pose for a picture after winning the Western Buckeye League Championship on Monday at Varsity Lanes.
Sports Editor

St. Marys just keeps rolling.

After the Roughriders boys team captured their third straight Western Buckeye League title on Friday, the girls team won their fourth straight on Monday by winning the league tournament and finishing in a first-place tie with Wapakoneta overall. 

The Roughriders defeated Wapakoneta by 39 pins in Monday's WBL Championship with 3,542 total pins. Roughriders coach Jay Gibson said his team was sitting in third place after the second regular game, but climbed back during the Baker games.

"Started out a little rough at one point," he said. "Nobody could get any momentum going, [but] we moved lanes for the third game and everyone got a strike in the first [frame] to get everyone excited. We finished that game with the highest game of the day to move back into second, 50 pins behind.

"[In the] first game of bakers, we won by 62 pins to retake the lead and then just kept matching or winning the rest of the bakers by little amounts to stay ahead."

The Roughriders trailed Wapakoneta and Celina after two regular games, but came back with a league-best 931 in the third game to finish seven pins ahead of Celina and just 51 pins behind Wapakoneta before taking a 11 pin lead after the first Baker game. 

St. Marys' lowest Baker game was 129 and finished with the second-most 1,031 — behind Van Wert — but 39 more pins overall than Wapakoneta. 

Van Wert finished third overall with 3,309 pins, Celina was fourth with 3,256 an Shawnee placed fifth with 2,999 pins in the tournament. 

Debbie Swisher led the Roughriders with a 561 series — finishing second overall in the tournament. She was followed by teammate Alayna Thornsberry with a 542 series for fifth overall and Tricia Yahl placed ninth with a 509 series. 

"She [Swisher] had a great day, I am so proud of her," Gibson said. "She has worked so hard the past three years and she absolutely deserves it.

"The last several weeks we have worked on some things and she has started to roll it really well. I just told her the other day, we are going to get her peaking at just the right time.

And the Roughriders are beginning to ascend at the right time.

St. Marys finished the season 8-1 in league play and 11-2 overall and Monday was a little bit of payback after the Redskins defeated the Riders in dual play earlier this year to snap St. Marys' 23-game WBL win streak. However, St. Marys kept Wapakoneta from winning the league outright.

Rounding out the scoring for the Roughriders were Jaden Gibson with a 478 series, Samantha Ackroyd with a 267 in two games and Lily Steinberg with a 154 in one game.

Now the attention turns to the postseason, where the Roughriders will look to defend their state championship from last season and unlike the boys team who is now Division I, the girls team is still in Division II play where they have made state appearance in the last two years.

"One week at a time," Gibson said when asked what his expectations of the postseason are. "Ultimately, the main goal is to just get there [and] I feel we have the talent and fight to get through sectionals and districts but anything can happen."