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Springfield girls bowling team trying to work past key injury

2/6/2014 - South Side Leader
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By Sean Patrick

SPRINGFIELD — The Springfield High School girls bowling team was 11-4 overall and 6-2 in the Portage Trail Conference’s (PTC) Metro Division through Feb. 4, and head coach Matthew Graves said the squad is right about where he expected it to be at this point.

“We’re in second place,” he said. “Unfortunately, we lost [junior] Amanda Smith to a knee surgery in mid-January, so we’ve been without her for the last couple of weeks, and we knew that would make us struggle a little bit. But everyone has stepped up, and we’ve even been a little bit better than I thought lately.”

Graves said Smith was “doing phenomenal” prior to going out for the year.

“She was having her best year so far,” the coach said. “She had about a 187 average.”

According to Graves, junior Chelsea Crihfield has really stepped up for the team this season.

“She has done great,” he said. “She was the top bowler at the PTC tournament this past Saturday. She had a 699 series with a high game of 278. She’s averaging about 188 or 189 right now, and she’s been pretty steady. She’s been consistent for us this whole year.”

Overall, Springfield finished in third place at the PTC tournament.

“We did OK,” the coach said. “We struggled at times here and there, and we went up against some good competition. We just weren’t able to overcome Coventry or Kent [Roosevelt]. They were just too much for us.”

Another key contributor this season, Graves said, has been freshman Madison Sims.

“She is having a pretty good year,” the coach noted. “She started out in [junior varsity], but she has worked hard and she’s really improved. Madison has been able to really contribute to the team.”

The seniors on this year’s squad are Kylie Jackson and Jenna Messenger.

“Kylie’s done well. She’s had a decent year. She worked hard in the beginning of the year to step up her game, and she started to show some real improvement,” Graves said. “Jenna was able to contribute early when some of our girls were not available. She was able to step up for varsity and help out. She has struggled a little bit, but she has shown some leadership for the younger girls on the team.”

Juniors Savannah Nestor and Ami George also have played roles in the team’s success this season, Graves said.

“Savannah has always been a good bowler and she continues to be a good bowler,” he said. “This is only Ami’s second year, and I think she’s done remarkable to make it on the varsity team in only her second year. She strives to improve every day.”

Graves said his team has the ability to make some noise in the postseason with a little hard work and some confidence.

“For the postseason, we’ll be in sectionals at Midway Lanes in Akron and we’ll have to finish in the top four to move on,” he said. “We have a chance. We just have to bowl well and not get down on ourselves. Sometimes, we let a bad shot ruin the next couple of frames, and we can’t let that happen.”

With a strong junior class due back next season — including the expected return of Smith from injury — Graves said he expects an improved performance.

“We should have a really good team next year,” he said. “And after that, as long as we keep developing young bowlers, we should continue to be OK.”

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