Woodmore’s boys bowling team has waited three years for this.
Playing in a conference that is traditionally dominated by Eastwood, coach Steve Burner’s squad is just two wins away from claiming the Northern Buckeye Conference regular-season title.
The Wildcats, who beat Eastwood twice this season, won the NBC tournament on Jan. 5 at Cedar Lanes in Sandusky, beating runner-up Port Clinton by 50 pins.
|Woodmore's boys bowling team won the Northern Buckeye Conference
tournament on Jan. 5. Pictured left to right are Ryan Paul, Jake Nuhfer,
Zach Mathna, Coach Steve Burner, Tyler Crump, and Ty Burner. Not
pictured: Tyler Porter. (Photo courtesy of Steve Burner)
“I would say Port Clinton was the favorite, with their five bowlers to my five bowlers,” Burner said. “We bowled really well and Port Clinton bowled basically their average. We’re a team that is not bowling really well with the Baker games, but we bowled really well with the Baker games that day.”
Woodmore improved to 10-2 in the NBC with Wednesday’s 54-pin win at Fostoria. The ‘Cats can win the NBC title with wins over Rossford on Friday and Gibsonburg next Wednesday. Both of Woodmore’s conference losses are to Port Clinton (10-3).
“This is only our third year in the league and we’ve been looking for this point,” said Burner, whose team features four seniors and two juniors. “We’re senior-loaded and these guys have been looking at that opportunity since we’ve been in the league. Eastwood has been to state how many times, and how many great bowlers has (coach) Jay (Young) had. Bob Black at Port Clinton has a great program, and Rossford has a great program.”
Clinching the regular-season NBC title, Burner said, “would be a heck of a thing for our kids.”
Woodmore is led by Burner’s son, Tyler, who earned all-tournament first team honors on Jan. 5. Tyler, who rolled three 200-plus games (241, 230, 234) to win the tournament, carried a 209 season average into Wednesday’s match, the third-highest average in the conference.
The conference record for season average is 212.
“The biggest thing that has changed in his game is the maturity factor,” coach Burner said. “He doesn’t get so upset like he used to if something bad happens to him. Golf and bowling, same thing. He’s done a very good job of controlling his emotions.”
Senior Zack Mathna has a 197 conference average, the fifth-highest average in the NBC.
“The biggest thing with Zack this year is he’s just taking it more serious than last year,” coach Burner said. “Last year bowling was for fun, and this year he’s seeing what the team can do and he’s put the mental part together of being serious. I knew he had it in him. When he bowls, it’s just a matter of being serious and getting down and doing it.”
Tyler Crump, a junior, carries a 188.9 average in conference play. Coach Burner said Crump and Tyler Burner are basically mirror images of each other.
“Talk about two identical people,” he said. “They’d get so upset with something that happens that it would cost them two frames after that. Both of them have learned to control their emotions.”
Senior Ryan Paul, who has a 179 average, struggled during the middle of the season but has come on of late, according to coach Burner.
“Our last few matches, Ryan has really tore it up score-wise,” the coach said. “He’s bowled around 420 (for two games) the last couple times out.”
Junior Jake Neufer, the Wildcats’ No. 5 man and a first-year varsity player, has a 176 average; senior Tyler Porter has also contributed this season.
“Being his first year, Jake’s been up and down,” coach Burner said. “He’s helped us out in matches and helped us win matches with some of the scores he’s shot. Tyler (Porter) hasn’t had a lot of varsity matches, but he’s averaging 191 in two games in league play. He’s been starting to come on lately. Last year he didn’t now anything about bowling. Now he’s bought a new ball and he’s striving to get his game better, and he’s doing a good job at it.”