Bowling teams begin Sectional action with high hopes

Bowling teams begin Sectional action with high hopes

Sophomore Austin Mahaffey and junior Taylor Lyons practice in preparation for Sectional bowling competition, which begins Wednesday.

To say that the Fairmont bowling teams are on a roll would be, of course, a huge cliché. But they really are.

The Boys’ Varsity Bowling team wrapped up its regular season on Feb. 7, 2012, with a victory over Northmont. The Firebirds finished with a 20-2 record, the best since the Ohio High School Athletic Association recognized bowling as a sport in 2000. In addition, the boys captured the 2012 GWOC Central Division championship over the weekend and fell just short of earning the overall GWOC championship.

The Girls’ Varsity squad also rolled over Northmont on Feb. 7 and finished with a 16-6 season record. Over the weekend, the girls finished third in the GWOC Central Division and sixth overall. In addition, Tracy Wolfe was voted Coach of the Year in the Central Division.

Both teams begin Sectional action on Wednesday, Feb. 15, at Poelking Woodman Lanes. Boys’ Head Coach Rex Wolfe says he expects both squads to go deep into the tournament.

“All of our bowlers are as focused as ever, and I expect great things in the post-season,” he said. “Our boys are definitely the team to beat this year, and I think they feel the same way. It won’t be easy, but we have a legitimate shot to bring a State championship back to Fairmont.”

Senior Ryan Wolfe, son of the coach, says everyone on the boys’ team is anticipating bringing home a State title. “We are hungry and we aren’t going to let anyone stop us from winning the State championship,” the senior said.

The boys’ squad includes five seniors who have one last spin at winning the State title. In addition to Wolfe, they are Matt Chandler, Zach Grubb, Josh Lewis and Ronnie Pohl.  “We started off very strong this season, and as long as we keep scoring how we are, we should do very well in the State tournament,” Grubb said.

Just like the boys, the girls also have high hopes for the tournament. “I really think if we all bowl our best, we have a great shot at competing with some of the top teams at the tournament this year,” said Jessica Mowen, the only senior on the team.

Coach Wolfe thinks the girls will do well. “I think they make it through Sectionals, and then we will have a fight on our hands to make it through Districts to get to State,” he said.

Coach Wolfe noted that the boys have been in the State Championships every year except one since its inception. “Our teams are very successful. Over the last four years, both our men’s and women’s teams have both held winning records,” he said. He also noted that the boys’ varsity team is 74-9 in those four years.

In 2011, the boys finished 5th in the State tournament and were the GWOC and Southwest District champions. Ryan Wolfe earned a silver medal for his second-place finish, and he was named to the First Team All-Ohio. Eight members of that Firebird squad were named to the All-Ohio team; in addition to Chandler, Grubb, Lewis, Pohl and Wolfe, they were Daulton Cooper, Chad Jackson and Adam Lupp.

On the girls’ side last year, Molly Crouch advanced as an individual and made it to the State tournament, where she finished 48th.

Rex Wolfe’s title is “coach,” but he might just as well be considered a cheerleader. He’s clearly passionate about the sport of bowling.

“Bowling is the largest growing high school sport in the nation, and Ohio is the second only to New York in the number of participants,” Coach Wolfe said, noting that the Buckeye state has 360 boys’ teams and 340 girls’ teams.

“Many people don’t know how exciting bowling matches are,” Coach Wolfe continued. “Our normal match has about 100 to 150 people in attendance, and most are standing on stepladders to get to see the bowlers. Big matches can have upwards of 200 to 250 people, and tournaments are standing room only.”

Coach Wolfe said he hopes more fans will discover the sport of bowling. “If you haven’t been to a high school bowling match, you are missing out,” he said. “They can get as loud as a basketball game in the Trent Arena.”

For his part, Ryan Wolfe is ready to step up to the lane and bowl his best regardless of the crowd or noise. “I’m very excited about tournament,” he said. “I have been very focused, and I am determined to win the title this year.”