Ashland rules Ohio Cardinal Conference bowling with sweep of championships
ASHLAND — Jada Baker was gushing as she shed tears of joy after she and her Ashland High School bowling teammates celebrated four consecutive years of reigning supreme as Ohio Cardinal Conference championships.
The Ashland girls defeated Lexington in three Baker Games by scores of 265-235, 204-104, and 204-180 in a meeting of the top two teams in Saturday’s tournament at Luray Lanes.
“I think it’s really exciting, and I think we’re so good as a team working together,” Baker said, also commenting on the team tossing a 265 in its first best three-out-of five championship games. “It was really nerve-racking but we pulled through. I think we all are here for each other, and we’re really supportive of each other no matter what we do.”
Baker, a junior, also was honored as the 2023 OCC Bowler of the Year after establishing a 210.2 average, narrowly beating Wooster’s Abbie Leiendecker, a close friend, who was next at 210.
“It means a lot but it was really scary because Abbie was in second and I only beat her by point-2,” Baker noted. “We are good friends. We bowled with each other a long time ago in junior bowls and stuff.”
Ashland qualified first with a 4,274 total, well in front of Lexington (3,658), Wooster (3,372), West Holmes (3,090), Mount Vernon (2,962), New Philadelphia (2,853) and Mansfield Senior (2,565).
Ashland coach Michele Baker was not only proud of her daughter, but all of the Arrows girls.
“They did a great job today. They kept the momentum going all day long, they had awesome individual games, Baker Games, on fire,” coach Baker lauded. “Lex has been on fire the last few weeks, and I knew if they made it to the finals they were going to give us some competition. Normally, when you have a 235 game you don’t normally get beat. Thank goodness my girls pulled together when they needed to to come out with that big 265 game.”
Lexington girls coach Jason Whitsel was also proud of his team.
“I couldn’t be happier with how we bowled today, that’s a great team we went up against,” he said. “The goal No. 1 was to get to the finals. We knew it was likely we’d face Ashland, but we know anything can happen in Baker Games. We bowled about as well as we can bowl in those Baker Games, and Ashland just brought it and won it today.”
Named to the All-OCC first team along with Leiendecker were Ashland’s Makayla Dreibelbis (185.3) and Aubrie Cooke (185.2), along with Mount Vernon’s Chelsea King (180.2) and Lexington’s Addyson Whitesel (177.8).
All-OCC second team members were Mount Vernon’s Jace Kyle (177.6), Ashland’s Haley Rowe (173.4), Lexington’s Kierslyn Allen (165.4), Wooster’s Abny Colman (160.9) and West Holmes’ Nailee North (155.7).
Honorable mention selections were West Holmes’ Aubree Young (154.9), New Philadelphia’s Graci Wigfield (153.4) and Lexington’s Rachel Baughman (153), Lily Wolfe (152.9) and Kylie Ruiz (151.2).
Amelia Brown, MacKenzie Kauffman, Mallorie Kohler, and Maryann Rus also competed for Ashland.
Wooster’s Tracie Leiendecker was honored as the OCC Coach of the Year.
Ashland also captured the OCC crown on the boys side, defeating Mansfield Senior in three Baker Games by scores of 238-193, 187-156 and 180-142.
Ashland freshman Luke Rhine, who carded an average of 232.8, was named OCC Bowler of the Year.
“For the team, I feel like we’ve put a bunch of work in this year, even in the Baker Games because, honestly, I didn’t think it was going to work out from the start, but it makes us come together more as a team and it worked out,” Rhine said. “I’ve also put a lot of work in in practice and after practice. And to win that award means so much.”
Ashland first-year coach Jim Brown was named OCC Coach of the Year.
“It’s a great feeling," Browns said. "Obviously we dominated the qualifying round of it. We knew going into match play it’s not really our strong suit but we came together really well as a team and bowled above what they were bowling in qualifying for Bakers, so they did come together really well for us.
"And I think it looks better for us going into sectionals and for the rest of the year. They’re starting to understand this is it.”
Ashland qualified first with a 4,592 total, followed by Mansfield Senior (4,154), Wooster (3,944), New Philadelphia (3,868), Mount Vernon (3,778), Lexington (3,760) and West Holmes (3,404).
Excelling for Ashland were All-OCC first team members Garren Ward (230.2), Max Oeken (226.4), Landon Dreibelbis (223.1) and Parker Grissinger (213.2), along with Mount Vernon’s Alan Townsend (203.1).
Wooster’s Dawson Gaynor (202.9), Sam Fleming (200.8), Isaac Ebie (194) and Gavin Ennis (194), along with New Philadelphia’s LandonLiBiche (202.1) and Mansfield Senior’s Alex Grant (194.9) were named to the All-OCC second team.
Honorable Mention selections were Lexington’s Bailey Carmichel (192.7), West Holmes’ Kayden Worley (191.8), Mansfield Senior’s Isiah Davis (190.3) and Davion Willison (189.7), and New Philadelphia's Gabe Fair (187.8).
Also bowling for Ashland were Brayden Long, Aiden Brown and Mikey McKinney.
“We came in hoping we could take them in Bakers; we know they’re a quality team from top to bottom,” said Mansfield Senior coach John Grant of the Arrows boys. “With Bakers there’s a little bit of a variability in there, and we thought we might be able to win one but we struggled a little bit. But the boys gave their all and they did the best they could do.”
This article originally appeared on Ashland Times Gazette: Ashland rule Ohio Cardinal Conference bowling with championship sweep