Woodridge boys bowling team facing expanded schedule this season
PENINSULA — Woodridge High School boys bowling head coach Keith Shovestull said his team will “have a full schedule this season.” This year’s slate includes nine more matches than last year’s schedule.
“The boys will be bowling in 23 matches this season,” he said. “We are hopeful that by adding more matches and tournaments, the team will gain needed experience and confidence on the lanes.”
Last season, Woodridge finished 5-9 overall and 3-3 in the Portage Trail Conference (PTC), good for second place in the league.
“Five of our eight bowlers were graduating seniors last year, and one sophomore, who carried a 180 average, moved out of Ohio,” Shovestull stated. “Max Myers was a first team all-PTC selection, and Nick Freund was a second team all-PTC selection.”
This season, the coach said he has seen plenty of enthusiasm from his team.
“I have already noticed a sense of commitment and a passion to improve. These kids love to practice and want to get better,” he stated. “I wish we had more time on the lanes, but unfortunately we are at the mercy of the bowling center’s schedule and can only practice a couple of times a week on the lanes.”
A 23-match slate will allow the team’s top young players to gain plenty of experience, Shovestull said.
“We have two freshmen, Brandon Fleming and Alex Rager, and one sophomore, Caleb Francis, who are all bowling at the high school level for the first time,” he said. “Having only one sub creates a real problem when one or more of the starters are struggling.”
According to the coach, Fleming and Rager are both standing out as freshmen.
“Both of them have youth league experience, and Brandon has bowled in several youth tournaments and performed well,” he stated. “Brandon currently has a 168 match average and Alex a 166. I am expecting those averages to rise as they gain more experience throughout the season.”
Shovestull said Francis is “going to surprise a lot of people this year.”
“He had a 100-pin tryout average and has already improved to a match average of 141,” the coach said. “Caleb is a very hard worker and has a desire to improve. He learns quickly and is coachable.”
The seniors on this year’s team are Bryson Swain and Steven Griffith.
“Bryson is a starter and is currently leading the team in average with a 180,” Shovestull said. “Steven is a quality sub who can come into a match and fill frames for us.”
Through Dec. 7, Woodridge was out to a 1-5 start, but the team is showing improvement, Shovestull said.
“We have a tendency to dig ourselves into a hole in the first game of matches and are then not able to climb out. Also, we have been bowling against some very talented teams,” he said. “I think once we get into our own conference, our record will improve and we will become more confident on the lanes. There is no reason why this team cannot compete for a championship in the PTC league. Other teams in the conference are also trying to rebuild, so it should be an interesting season in our conference.”
This is Shovestull’s fourth season as head coach. His assistant coach is Tina Fleming.
“This is her first year coaching high school bowling. Tina is an accomplished bowler, and she relates well to the kids,” Shovestull said. “Her knowledge of the game is going to be a huge asset for this team as they continue to improve.”
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