Local bowlers will be in action today in Bowling Green as the Region 1 Tournament gets underway, and expectations are high for the Apollo girls and boys as well as the Daviess County boys.
Owensboro and Owensboro Catholic — both in rebuilding years — will also be among the 13 teams competing at Southern Lanes during the two-day tournament. Though OHS and Catholic will be long shots to advance as a team, they each have individuals who could earn a spot in the state tournament.
Friday features unified competition at 9 a.m. with singles play starting at 10 a.m. Boys’ team play begins at 8 a.m. Saturday, with girls’ team play set for noon. The top four boys and top four girls advance to the state tournament as individuals, while the top two teams also move on. The state tournament will be Feb. 6-7 in Louisville.
Expectations remain high for Apollo after a dominant regular season. The girls’ team finished undefeated for the second straight year, while the boys rolled to an 11-2 record.
The girls have gone to state three years in a row and have sights set on making it four straight, though they did suffer a setback when they lost Senior Laura Head for the season due to injury. The boys’ team is hoping to advance out of the region for the first time in a few years.
“The girls’ team is playing for Laura, who didn’t get to finish her senior season, but she will be there cheering them on the whole way,” said head coach Kerrie Gatton said. “It’s been a few years since our boys have been to state now, and I know they are ready to get back. Their record this season against the Region 1 teams show that we are a contender.”
Senior Emma Workman led the Apollo girls with a 190 regular season average, and seniors Ryan Gatton and Chance Jones have led the boys’ squad with season averages of 206 and 197, respectively.
Head coach Byron Johnson said the boys are a veteran team full of tournament experience, while the girls’ team is in a rebuilding phase.
The boys’ squad returns almost all of the athletes from last years’ regional championship team, including Briar Harper and CJ Snyder, who both carry averages of 205. Harper bowled a perfect game earlier in the regular season.
The girls’ team is young but shows promise with standout players Jasmine Parm and Madilyn Phelps.
“The girls are in a rebuilding year,” Johnson said. “Most are 7th- and 8th-graders, but the boys are a veteran team that have already won two regular season tournaments this year. They will have a good shot at regionals and a chance to repeat as champs.”
This season was another year of overall growth and development for the young Red Devils according to head coach Shannon Mitchell, though they’ve got a couple of experienced players leading the way. The boys’ team finished 2-8 on the year, and the girls’ team finished 5-5.
“We have several new bowlers this year and a very young team, so my veteran bowlers have really stepped up this year,” Mitchell said. “They have all helped guide our new bowlers on the ins and outs of what it means to be a team — not just on the lanes, but also off the lanes as well.”
The boys’ team was led by David Christensen and Alex Keller, who both posted high games above 210 on the year. The girls’ unit was topped by Lillian Cook and Mallory Hatfield, who both bowled individual game highs above 155.
This season was a step back for Owensboro Catholic with only three returnees from last year’s competitive team according to head coach Ginny Coomes, though she’s hoping to have seven juniors back next year.
Veteran senior Jared Deno was the team’s top bowler this year with a season average of 190, a score that could give him a chance to represent Owensboro Catholic at state in singles competition.
“Because we are such a young team, I am just hoping that everyone bowls the best they can and walks away pleased with their score,” Coomes said of what she’s looking for in the region tournament. “I am looking forward to the next couple of years as this team matures and gets better.”