Eastwood's girls bowling team was in real trouble during the finals of the 16-team state tournament last Friday at Tikki Lanes in Lancaster, so Jay Young knew he had to do something.
The Eagles' coach watched his nervous squad lose to Troy in the first game of the finals by a 180-107 margin. Eastwood then lost the second game in the best-of-five match, 179-128, so Young took action.
"We thought we were done," Young admitted. "A lot of people did."
So Young made a change in the Eagles' bowling order in the Baker format, where each team member alternates every other frame. He moved Eastwood's third bowler, junior Mallory Fritz, to first in the lineup and moved its first bowler, sophomore Brandi Roller, to second.
Young moved second bowler Emily Walston, a senior, to third and left sophomore Mikayla Young and senior Carrie Lorenzen at fourth and fifth, respectively.
"We had a long talk before the third game," coach Young said. "We said we belonged here and we're not losing it right now."
Young reminded his bowlers of the talk they had with sports trauma doctor Ed Wojciechowski after the sectional tournament two weeks earlier. Doctor "Wojo" talked to the team about mental preparation and maintaining its focus.
The Eagles beat Troy 193-148 in the third game, and tied the match with a 241-201 win in the fourth game. It was the highest game ever shot in a championship match at the girls' state tournament.
Eastwood claimed the state title with a 166-147 win in the fifth game.
Lorenzen, whose 601 series was the second-highest series of the tournament, said her team was physically and mentally drained after losing the first two games in the finals.
"The minute Jay switched our order, we were optimistic," Lorenzen said. "Things got rolling and it worked out great. It kept our heads up. Our heads were falling and we were getting tired. Changing the order gave us a little hope. Putting Mallory first got us started on the right track. She was throwing the ball pretty good and it started our game off pretty well.
"Jay reminded us we were there for one reason, to win a state title. He told us to keep it there mentally. We were getting tired at the end of the day. We had hope for the championship, but we knew if we got second place we were still grateful for it."
After Lorenzen, Fritz was 12th during the tournament with a 555 series, Roller was 24th (434), Young was 33rd (514) and Walston was 77th (425). Junior Jessica Heestand and sophomores Kelsey Waynick (134) and Peyton Himburg were Eastwood's alternates.
Eastwood was third in qualifying after three regular games and three Baker games, trailing Troy and Austintown-Fitch. The top eight teams according to seeds bowled a best-of-five bracket match play, with the top two teams bowling a best-of-five Baker match games to advance to the finals.
"The championship round was televised and they had to set up cameras, and there was about an hour and a half break," coach Young said. "The girls saw the TV cameras and it started to sink in what they were bowling for, and they were nervous. We got them settled down the last three games in the finals. After those first two games, were were almost down and out."
Lorenzen, who led the Eagles with a 193 average this season, said the team was confident it could beat the other top teams in the state.
"It was just a matter of putting it all together and doing it," she said. "The other teams didn't think we had the potential because we were this little school there. We knew our school program is amazing and we've got a great coach, and it's a great way to show it by winning a state championship. I'm just proud of my girls and my coach. It was a great way to end my senior year."
The state title capped an amazing season for the Eagles, who won the Sandusky Bay Area Bowling Conference with a 13-0 record and finished 17-0 during the regular season.
"This was something I've never experienced," coach Young said. "To see the emotions of the girls and the parents, it was very satisfying. I'm very proud of the girls. They deserved it. They worked hard all year. The girls picked themselves off the mat. Troy was already carrying the trophy, but we just dug down mentally and got very tough."