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Thursday, March 1st, 2007

Cavaliers and Redskins looking to strike for gold at state

By Gary R. Rasberry
The St. Henry and Coldwater bowling programs are used to state success.
But this season brings an extra special flavor.
Both the Cavalier boys and girls bowling teams, the St. Henry boys team and Redskin bowler Jill Lefeld will take part in the first OHSAA-sanctioned state tournament this weekend in Lancaster.
The ladies will open action on Friday at 11 a.m. at Tiki Lanes, with the boys rolling out on Saturday.
For the teams, it's a great honor to be part of this first state-sanctioned championship.
"It's great, but there's so much we can do yet," said St. Henry senior Eric Stout. "...It does feel good."
Teammate Jason Rutschilling agrees.
"It's a great opportunity for us," said Rutschilling, a senior. "Being part of it is a good thing."
The past several years, state tournaments were held under the auspices of the Ohio High School Bowling Conference (OHSBC) and the Ohio High School Independent Bowling Conference (OHSIBC). In 2006, with a number of schools having bowling as a varsity sport or as a club sport, the OHSAA decided to officially sanction the sport and sponsor sectional, district and state tournaments.
"It feels good, but I'm not looking at it any differently than any past state tournament," said Cav senior Jared Moeder. "We want to go down there and perform well at this one, maybe a little more because this one is recognized by the state."
Coldwater, the OHSIBC boys state champs in 2004, are primed to contend for the first OHSAA state championship.
"I think we're very confident," said Cav senior Tyler James. "We've been bowling pretty good all year. Depends how we shoot spares and who bowls best in the bakers. I think we can do pretty good."
Both the Cav and Redskin boys have been battling all season. The Cavaliers took first in West Ohio High School Bowling Conference with a perfect season and St. Henry took second. Then in the postseason, Coldwater and St. Henry finished 1-2 in the sectional and district tournaments.
"Coldwater beat us at Minster and then beat us at sectional," said Stout. "At district, we were up 80 pins going into the last four baker games, then they got around us again. Hopefully at state we can get them there."
Moeder was the thorn in the side for the Redskins at Bowling Green during district competition as the Cavalier leader rolled a 674 series to help put the Cavaliers at the top and earned individual district-champ honors.
"It's fairly friendly. We get along well," said Moeder. "You don't want to lose to the guys you bowl with every day."
Both teams call Pla-Mor Lanes home for practices and hosting the weekly matches in the league.
"It's a fun rivalry," said Rutschilling. "We kid around with each other in practice. We have fun with it. We've bowled together all four years of our high school career. It's a good way to cap it off."
"Rick and Liny Hartings (owners of Pla-Mor and coaches for Coldwater) gave us free bowling the whole year and that got us started," said Stout, whose father Jim is the coach of the Redskins.
For the Cavalier girls, the fact that both teams are going down is double the fun.
"It makes it one gigantic weekend of bowling and fun," said senior Beth Hosbach. "Having each other (down there) to support you is fun."
"It's awesome. It makes the whole town of Coldwater root for you even more," concurred junior Katie Muhlenkamp. "Everybody gets to go. One team is better than the other."
Coldwater finished tied for second with Van Wert in the WOHSBC with an 11-1 mark.
"Our goal at the beginning of the season was to make it to state," said Muhlenkamp. "It's awesome.
"You have to look at (the state) like (another tournament) because you'll get nervous. You have to face it like any other match."
Lefeld, who placed fourth at the district to earn an individual spot at state, has had a solid season. Her 389 series ranked fourth-best in the conference and she finished 10th in the WOHSBC with a 160.63 game average.
While Hosbach and the rest of the Cavaliers will have some support for Lefeld, the Redskin should not be expecting a whole lot of cheering when competition begins.
"I guess it helps, but it also gives us someone to beat," said Hosbach with a laugh. "It is nice to see some familiar faces. It is a friendly rivalry."
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