Miami Trace sophomore Miranda Wheeler has made school history by becoming the first student-athlete from her school to qualify to the State bowling tournament this weekend in Columbus.
Wheeler led Miami Trace with a 587 series, including a new high-game score of 246, allowing her to qualify to the State tournament Saturday at Wayne Webb’s Columbus Bowl on Saturday. The District tournament was held in Zanesville.
Two other Lady Panther bowlers placed in the top 20, including Paige Blankenship with a 478 and Macy Detty with a 475.
After the first three games of individual bowling and before the start of the Baker games, the Lady Panthers were sitting in second place behind Maysville, who was leading by 363 pins.
Close behind the Panthers trailed Carrollton and Minerva, who were also looking to advance to the State with a second place finish.
The Lady Panthers tried to cling to second place, but could not hold on through the remaining Baker games.
Miami Trace’s girls team placed fourth with a new personal best score of 3,371, only missing second place and a spot at the State tournament by 61 pins.
“Going into Districts, I knew our team had a chance to make it out (to State),” Wheeler said. “But, I was also relying on myself as an individual. I knew if I could make it out as an individual, that would give the team a better chance. Even if we didn’t make it out, I could make it out, because I wanted to go to State.
“My first game I bowled a 161,” Wheeler said. “I was starting to adjust to the lanes. I knew that my next game could be better and that I had to bowl better. My next game was a 180.”
Coach Amore then informed Wheeler that she needed a score of at least 220 in the third game to advance to State.
“I went out and rolled strikes in frames one through seven,” Wheeler said. “I bowled a 246. At that point, I was all focus; it was as if nothing else was going on.
“In the eighth frame, I had a 5-7 split,” Wheeler said. “I picked up the five pin, but I didn’t pick up the seven pin.
“In the ninth frame, I had a spare,” Wheeler said. “I started the 10th frame with a strike. Then I finished with a spare.
“After I bowled by 246, I went up to all my teammates and hugged them and cried,” Wheeler said.
“Their Baker games at the Sectional were a lot better than they were at the District meet,” Miami Trace coach Anthony Amore said. “I believe if they would have bowled their Baker games (at the District) like they did at the Sectional, they would have made it to the State. They were in second place going into the Baker games, but I didn’t tell them that.” A Baker game consists of five team members each in turn bowling a frame.
“For a second-year program, I can’t complain about that,” Amore said.
“Miranda had two solid games to start (at the District),” Amore said. “They weren’t awesome games, but they were good games. I told her, ‘if you bowl a 220 here, or higher, you’ll be going to State.’ Then she went out in her third game and bowled a 246.
“She was focused on every shot,” Amore said. “Really, all the girls bowled really well. Everyone was bowling their average, or higher.
“Some of our parents said they heard other parents asking each other, who is Miami Trace,” Amore said. “This is only our second year and we basically came out of nowhere.
“The girls started out exceptionally well, sitting second after the first three games,” Amore said. “Then we had the six Baker games. The first two Baker games were decent. I would have liked to have seen them bowl a little better. Then we fell down a little bit in our scoring.
“In our last game we bowled a 191, the girls started clicking again,” Amore said. “We came within 61 pins. There were a couple of shots that the girls probably should have made, but they didn’t. The way I look at it, this is our second year of having a program. I have four of the five girls returning that bowled at the District meet.
“Miranda is a sophomore going to State, which is awesome in itself,” Amore said. “She’s got a lot of potential to do very well. I’m not expecting her to bowl 200 games every time. This is going to be a new experience for her and for me.
“I think what this will help her with the most is gaining the experience of competing at the State meet,” Amore said. “If she can bring some of that experience back to the team next year, it could help the team grow.”
“I was really proud of myself that I was able to make it (to State),” Wheeler said. “I want to place at State and maybe even win it. If I don’t do well, if I don’t place well, that’s okay with me. I can say I made it to State as a sophomore and I still have two more years. I still have so much more to learn about the sport, so much more room for improvement.”
Wheeler first bowled when she was six or seven, she said.
“I quit, but then, once the high school bowling team started, I wanted to get back into it,” Wheeler said. “And I have improved so much in the last year.
“I want to thank Anthony for putting up with me and my craziness sometimes,” Wheeler said. “I want to thank my parents (Jacob and Jodi Wheeler) for always supporting me and taking me places and making these opportunities possible for me.”
The Chillicothe girls won the SCOL bowling title. Miami Trace followed that up by winning the Sectional title.
Cory Barrett of Miami Trace was the only male who qualified for the District tournament. He had a great last game of 218 but it was not enough to qualify to State.
The Washington Lady Blue Lions finished sixth at the District with a total score of 3,005. They had two girls in the top 20, including Kate Jude with a 498 and Sierra Dawson with a 486.
The Washington Blue Lion boys team placed fourth at the District with a total score of 4,020.
They also had two bowlers in the top 20: James Pollard with a 636 series and Adam Crabtree with a 595.