By Rob Kiser
When the Division I district bowling tournaments are conducted this week at Beaver-Vu Lanes, three Piqua bowlers will be looking to earn a berth in the state tournament.
Senior Travis Smith will take to the lanes first for the boys district tournament Wednesday, with senior Rayna Brownlee and sophomore Kyra Buchanan bowling in the girls tournament Thursday.
In both tournaments, the top five individuals not on qualifying teams will advance to next week’s state tournament.
“I want to bowl something pretty high in the 600s,” Smith said. “At least a 650. I want to get to the state tournament this year.”
Smith, who averaged 189.1 this season, rolled games of 226, 196 and 180 at the sectional tournament last week for a 602 series to advance.
“It was a big goal (to get back to district),” Smith said. “I felt like last year, I could have made it to state. I let some things bother me.”
Piqua boys coach Craig Miller agreed.
“He started out good last year and then a couple things happened where he didn’t do a good job of controlling his emotions,” Miller said. “He missed a couple matches this year do to illness. One of those was the Troy match. I think that has kind of pumped him up.”
And Smith is more prepared this year.
“Getting off to a good start and figuring out the oil pattern quickly are important,” Smith said. “But, keeping control of your emotions is just as important. That will be a big part of it.”
And adjusting to the change of conditions won’t be as difficult this week.
“We got off to a great start at sectionals,” Miller said. “We were in second after the first game. But, then when we switched lanes, the previous bowlers on that lane had burned out the oil patterns. This week there are three (bowlers) instead of five (on the lanes). So it shouldn’t be as big a change.”
Miller said Smith will have to bowl well.
“There are some great bowlers from Dayton and coming up from Cincinnati,” Miller said. “It will probably take a 650 to 675. Travis (Smith) still bowled a 600 down there last year. It is just a matter of adjusting to the synthetic lanes. We have bowled there before, but it will be a little different oil pattern.”
Brownlee wasn’t about to let her final chance at district slip away last week.
After opening with a 199 game, Brownlee followed it with a 161.
Needing to deliver in her final game, the senior rolled a 212 for a 572 series to solidly qualify for district.
“I have always wanted to bowl at state,” Brownlee said. “I feel like I was close last year and it didn’t happen. My goal is to bowl a really good series, because I want to make it to state.”
She averaged 175.3 this year to led the Lady Indians.
“Rayna (Brownlee) has carried this team all season,” Piqua girls bowling coach Jason Jenkins said. “She has been really solid and she was again (at sectionals).”
Brownlee gave credit to her teammates.
“I could hear them cheering me the whole time (at sectionals),” Brownlee said. “That helped a lot.”
Brownlee isn’t worried about nerves at district.
“I think I have only bowled there one time,” Brownlee said about Beaver-Vu. “But, I think I bowled well there. I am hopeful I am going to bowl really well and get to state.”
Buchanan was a picture of consistency at sectionals.
She rolled games of 182, 198 and 188 for a 568 series.
“Consistency is everything in bowling,” Jenkins said. “Kyra (Buchanan) being a sophomore, this is her first time at district. Kyra (Buchanan) has really come one in the second half of the season.”
Buchanan averaged 162.2 for the season.
“I really wasn’t thinking about it to much,” Buchanan said about qualifying for district. “I just kind of focused on my bowling.”
She knows lane conditions, spare shooting and nerves can all factor in this week.
“I guess I might be a little nervous,” Buchanan said. “I think having a teammate there will help. I don’t have a number (series) in mind. I am just going to go with it and hope it will be a good day.”
Jenkins believes having two bowlers there is a plus.
“It is the first time since I have been coaching that we have had two bowlers there,” he said. “I am excited about that.”
And Miller summed things up pretty well.
“Spare shooting and seeing that ball roll over the mark,” he said with a smile.
Which will hopefully lead to another week of bowling for Piqua.
Rob Kiser is Sports Editor for the Daily Call. He can be reached at (937) 451-3334.