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Hard work in offseason paying dividends for Copley boys bowling team

1/30/2014 - West Side Leader
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By Sean Patrick

COPLEY — Head coach Brad Bennett said the Copley High School boys bowling team is seeing the benefits of the extra work his players put in during the offseason.

“They worked hard during the summer, and they are reaping the rewards of the extra work that they have put in,” he said. “We have beaten some teams we normally don’t beat, and the players have risen to the occasion.”

Bennett said he has seen marked improvement in his team as the season has progressed.

“We are coming more together as a team, and our Baker games are getting better and better,” he said. “Plus, the averages for the individual athletes have been rising throughout the course of the season.”

Through Jan. 26, Copley was 10-4 overall and 8-3 in the Greater Summit County Bowling Association.

“As a team, we’ve been in the hunt more than in the past,” the coach said. “The team has been a lot more focused, and the players are a lot more serious this year.”

With the postseason looming, Bennett said he is looking for his team to improve on its consistency.

“Our experience level is rising, but we still need a little fine tuning,” he said. “We also want to be able to work on the different lane conditions that we will face. We will see a lot of different lanes, such as wooden or synthetic, and you see different oil patterns throughout the playoffs.”

According to Bennett, senior Octavion Rodgers-Smith has “really come on” this season.

“His average is up a lot higher than he was last year — he’s averaging 30 or 40 pins more than last year,” the coach said. “He’s a pretty good leader and he is pretty consistent. He’s not always the top guy every week, but he probably is on top more than any other bowler on the team.”

Bennett said another senior, Mark Gilger, has made successful contributions to the team.

“He’s a guy who has been bowling for the last few years, and he has been pretty solid. I can put him in the starting lineup at different times, and he comes through for us,” the coach said. “One match I put him in, he got like a 255. He doesn’t always hit that, but he has times with certain lane conditions where he is really, really solid.”

Other key bowlers on the team include juniors Brett Ryan and Jacob Davis.

“They are part of my top five,” Bennett said. “They both have had high game and high series weeks. They have both contributed to the team throughout the season.”

Rounding out the team’s top contributors, Bennett said, are junior Zach Sokira and sophomores Jared Davis and Jon Ziga.

“Zach worked a lot in the offseason, and he’s a good 20 or 30 pins better than last year. He’s to the point where he’s going to break through to the next barrier and be consistent in the 200 to 225 category,” the coach said. “Jared has actually gotten a lot better. He wasn’t on varsity last year, but this year he has made a spot for himself. He continually has solid performances — 170 and above — so he’s helped us out a lot. And John is now breaking into our starting five. He has had a lot of solid performances over the last few weeks.”

Bennett said his bowlers are “excited” about their prospects heading into the postseason.

“We have a real chance of making an impact,” he stated. “Now, we scare other teams — like when we defeated Tallmadge and Wadsworth this year for the first time — and things like that are making us believe that we will be able to do some good things.”

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