Story Matters

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Wednesday, November 7, 2018

2018-19 Highlands Bowling Preview

Highlands Returns Nice Mixture of Experience, Youth

PHOTO: G. Michael Graham, Fort Thomas Matters. Highlands junior Gunner Gabbard sets up to bowl at a recent practice. Gabbard is a key returning bowler for the Bluebirds.
PHOTO: G. Michael Graham, Fort Thomas Matters. Highlands junior Erin Parrott returns after helping the Bluebirds to the Region 5 championship last year.
A year ago, the Highlands bowling teams saw a new individual bar raised.

Andy Campbell, who graduated in the spring, brought home the first individual boys state championship. Campbell bowled 1,107 in five qualifying games pulling away from second-seed Jacob Rowan of Louisville DuPont Manual by 84 pins to earn a bye into the championship match. Campbell then defeated Rowan, 229-119 in the title match.

Campbell practiced every scenario before going down to the state tournament at Executive Strike and Spare in Louisville and won it despite what Highlands Head Coach Glenn Schmidt described as Taj Mahal challenge conditions. Campbell served as an exception to the rule that state scores were down compared to prior years when Lexington's Collins Eastland.

"You know what you're up against when you get up against the conditions that the state is putting out," Schmidt said. "Therefore, you have to understand that everybody is shooting in the same type of conditions. It becomes a level playing field at that point. You just have to make the right adjustments and do the right thing and that's part of what my coaching is."

Both sides saw two key bowlers graduate. Hunter Kolb also graduated for the Highlands boys, who lost to Simon Kenton in the Region 5 Tournament. The Highlands girls graduated Kate Schneider and Tessa Woody from the Region 5 Tournament championship team.

But both sides do have some experience returning that Schmidt said have shown a lot of promise in the off-season. The Highlands girls return seniors Emerel Woody and Erin Parrott along with sophomores Abby Bach and Tessa Killen.

"The dedication was the fact that most of them bowled in summer leagues this past summer so they kept up with their bowling throughout the summer," Schmidt said. "A lot of them are bowling in junior leagues this fall and in the travel league. They'll be ready to go as the time comes."

The Highlands girls ended up losing to Lexington Bryan Station in the first round of the state tournament. The Bluebirds have three region championships and five total appearances in the state tournament in school history. But the Highlands girls have not made it past the first round at state in those five tries.

Bach made it to the state tournament individually last year. Parrott said the older bowlers are trying to set good examples.

"A lot of the time, they do get angry and agitated when they don't do as well as they'd hoped," Parrott said. "But I always say, 'Don't look back at your other frames because once you do, it's going to determine whether you do well or bad in your other ones.' Just put what happened behind you and focus on a new frame."

The Highlands boys have not made state as a team since winning their lone Region 5 crown in 2016. They have been to state twice finishing state runner-up to Scott County in 2014.

The top two bowlers for the Highlands boys are juniors Gunner Gabbard and Jordan Cole. Senior Kyle Tierney, junior Jonathan Egan and sophomore Perry Daniels hope to help the Bluebirds go back to state.

"I've been bowling in this program for five years. In my time, I've been to the state tournament," Gabbard said. "But in the past, we've definitely been a lot more stacked than we are right now. We actually have some newer bowlers that have some potential. I think if we could just keep working hard in practices like we are and just keep working with individual people, we can be a lot better."

Highlands opened the season with sound victories over St. Henry from Region 6 on Nov. 1 at La Ru Lanes. The Highlands boys won 7-0 and the girls won 6-1.

The next match for Highlands is Thursday. The Bluebirds face Newport at Bellewood Bowling Alley in Bellevue. Match time is 3:30 p.m.

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