|Bluebirds Have Eyes on Ultimate Prize|
|Fort Thomas Matters Photo by G. Michael Graham. Highlands senior Kate Schneider is part of a deep, talented group of bowlers this season.|
|Fort Thomas Matters Photo by G. Michael Graham. Highlands senior Andy Campbell prepares for a bowl in a recent practice. He's one of four key returning players from last year for the Bluebirds.|
The Highlands bowling teams have been making their marks since the first Kentucky High School Athletic Association-sanctioned season in 2011-2012. The boys own one Region 5 championship, a state runner-up finish to Scott County in 2014 and two appearances total in the region championship. In six years, the girls own two region championships and four total appearances in the state tournament.
Head Coach Glenn Schmidt welcomes back a good number of players from last year's team. The boys lost in the Region 5 semifinals and the girls took region runner-up honors before losing to Louisville Mercy in the first round of the state tournament. Both teams enter the season with their eyes on the ultimate prize.
"I have very high dedication," Schmidt said. "They are very much wanting to improve their game as well as they want to win. As far as they're concerned, they want to win the state championship. That would be a great thing to do this year."
A huge thing the teams have been working on in the preseason practices is shooting spares. A spare occurs when a bowler knocks all 10 pins down in two attempts and a strike occurs when a player knocks them down on the first shot.
"We try to go out and practice our spares," Schmidt said. "You can average 190 just by making spares. The strikes will come. I emphasize that to a great extent. I make sure they do the spares correctly. If they don't, I'm sure I tell them about it. I show them how do to do that and hopefully, their game will get better by doing that."
The Highlands girls graduated Kathryn Ball and Abbey Parrott from last year's team. They return two seniors in Kate Schneider and Tessa Woody. Two juniors could be battling for playing time in Emerel Woody and Erin Parrott along with three freshmen in Abby Bach, Amanda Parrott and Tessa Killen. Schmidt is not afraid to give quick pointers and Schneider said she appreciates it.
"It helps me know what I'm doing wrong, how to fix and what I'm going against," Schneider said. "You have to focus on where you need to hit and how much power you need to put on your ball."
On the boys' side, Highlands graduated Tyler Spicer. But seniors Andy Campbell, Hunter Kolb along with sophomores Gunner Gabbard and Jordan Cole return.
"We have a lot of new members this year and we're all pretty excited," Campbell said. "We're all looking forward to the season. We all try to motivate each other. Right now, we're trying to get (the newer players) into the system. That way, we have a nice, complete team (and) make our way to state."
Schmidt said the mental part of the game is just as vital in bowling as any sport. Schmidt said players can't let a bad shot linger into the next bowl.
"You can't get yourself so upset that you just can't concentrate on what is going on in front of you instead of worrying about what is behind you," Schmidt said. "At this point, let's be very positive about what we do, keep a good attitude, a good outlook and go from there."
Highlands opens the season on Nov. 2. Covington Holy Cross comes to La Ru Lanes for a 3:30 p.m. match.