St. Marys Sweeps WBL Bowling Championships

Members of the St. Marys Roughriders boys and girls bowling teams pose for pictures after each won their respective Western Buckeye League titles on Friday in the WBL Championships at Highland Lanes in Ottawa.
Sports Editor

Since the Western Buckeye League formed a bowling league in 2017, the St. Marys Roughriders have owned that league in every year since and that trend continued on Friday.

In the league's third year with bowling as a recognized league sport, the Roughriders girls team claimed their third straight league title on Friday at the WBL Championship, while the boys team claimed their second straight league crown on Friday at Highland Lanes in Ottawa.

"I know the expectations were that they wanted to win the league and they felt that they had a chance to win," Roughriders boys coach Scott Ross said. "They printed the sheets out that showed our league record and it obviously had us at 9-0, but no matter what we did all season, we still had to win to lock it up.

"So the first thing I told the kids was, 'we can look at this sheet, but then we are going to forget about it and we are going to get to business.'"

Roughriders girls coach Jay Gibson — the WBL's Coach of the Year — said the Roughriders led at the end of every game and every Baker, but the standings were wire to wire and closer than he wanted it to be in the end.

"Shawnee's anchor bowler had a chance to strike out and beat us by two pins in the final Baker game, Gibson said. "She threw the first one and then 7 and spare to give us the WBL title by four pins, but it ended up a nail biter."

Either way, the Roughriders are league champions again — the fourth and fifth league titles for St. Marys athletics during the 2018-19 school year.

St. Marys girls team finished the regular season unbeaten for the second straight year — which includes a 9-0 record in the WBL. Last season, the Roughriders girls team placed second in the tournament and shared the league title with Wapakoneta.

"We knew going in, with an undefeated season, we had the team to do it," Gibson said. "We didn't want that to happen again, we wanted the outright league championship.

"We said from about the fifth game of the season that we had a state-caliber team again, as long as they continued to work hard and get better each week.

Replacing those seniors are last season's junior varsity bowlers Sam Ackroyd and Debbie Swisher as well as previous mainstays Jaden Gibson, Dorian Regedanz, Alayna Thornsberry and Sara Hardin.

"They are out to win that's for sure," Gibson said. "We did lose a lot of talent, some bowling collegiately, but we returned a strong core of girls this season and some of the others that joined the team or came up from JV have really stepped up their games and filled in admirably."

Jay's daughter, Jaden was named First-Team All-WBL with a 534 series on Friday, as well as Thornsberry — who rolled a 475 series.

Regedanz finished with a 545 for second-team honors, followed by Sara Hardin with a 526 for third-team accolades. Ackroyd (196) and Swisher (169) also competed on Friday. The Roughriders finished with 3,549 total pins, Shawnee was second with 3,545 and Wapakoneta took third with 3,491.

The Roughriders boys finished with 3,897 pins as a team, followed by Celina (3,584) and Wapakoneta (3,571).

Three seniors were named first-team all-leaguers in the boys competition — with Nate Kuffner and Evan Tennant taking those honors.

"Evan had a really good season," Ross said. "Earlier in the year, he was actually ahead of Gunner (Kruse), which helps. When you have five kids bowling and someone struggles, it nice when someone can pick them up, but they are friends and it's always nice to have friends when you're bowling.

"Nate's season was not near what he would like for it to be, but he realized about a month into the season that he needed to get to work to get where we are now and he did. Talk about being coachable, he has been and so has everyone else."

Gunner Kruse was also a first-team all-league selection, but more importantly, he was named the league's player of the year with a 607 series. Ross was named the coach of the year.

"He has been bowling great all season," Ross said. "I think the kids ahead of him believe if they can bowl well and give him a chance to win a game, they have the confidence in him that he will."

Ross said the goal is to always get to state. He says he likes his chances at sectionals, but the real test is districts — as always.

"We have five seniors on varsity and they know if they listen, if they keep their nerves under control and allow me to coach with the little bit of knowledge that I have, I think they learn that it works," he said.