COLUMBUS — Sixteen schools will roll into the Wayne Webb Columbus Bowl today with aspirations of becoming Division I state champions in boys bowling. For some teams, the enormity of the situation will be their downfall.
Brunswick shouldn’t fall into that category.
The Blue Devils, who are the first boys team to reach state in MedinaCounty history, believe the magnitude of the event won’t play a role because they got their slap in the face a year ago.
A can’t-miss team in 2013, Brunswick bowled its way to district and thought it was going to waltz into state without much of a problem. The Blue Devils finished 11th and were on the outside looking in.
“Last year, we went through the conference and only lost one match the whole way through,” Brunswick coach Jonathan Laube said. “I think that they thought they were just going to cruise through sectionals and districts and get to state.
“They found out that anybody can have a bad day, nothing was going to be given to them. They had to earn it. When we went to district this year, we were determined to get that spot in Columbus.”
When seniors K.C. Kokitka (598 at district) and Mitch Andzelik (521) competed in the Northeast District this year, along with sophomores Justin Vetrovsky (582) and Spencer Brodie (555) and junior Eric Bator (533), they left little to doubt in earning a trip to state.
Scottie Zipp, Brandon McClain and Jarrett Smith will go as alternates, but all eight are headed to the state capital with a purpose.
“The way it was going last year we were anticipating going,” Andzelik said. “That definitely pushed some of us. It’s me, K.C. and Scottie’s last year, so we definitely wanted to end here.
“The other kids wanted to go too because we were so close last year. I was personally pretty happy, then you realize you have to go to state and bowl against these other good teams, but it’s going to be fun.”
It’s going to be a good time because Bator (214.5 average), Brodie (207.8), Vetrovsky (205.9), Andzelik (205.3), Zipp (201.7), Kokitka (199.5), McClain (184.4) and Smith (169.8) are coming in with a ton of confidence.
The oil pattern is slick at Wayne Webb, but Medina Lanes was nice enough to copy the pattern for the Blue Devils for a couple of their practices. Brunswick had a chance to bowl on the state lanes Thursday, so nothing will come as a surprise.
“We just have to perform as a team and compete at the same level we have all year,” Laube said. “They sent us the oil pattern and we’ve been practicing with it at Medina Lanes.
“Every lane itself is different. How each lane will accept this pattern will be what we find out, but we had a practice with the same pattern. They bowled well at our practices with this pattern, so there’s that confidence. If they find the oil is the same they’ve been practicing on, that will boost their confidence.”
As for how far Brunswick can go, the confidence is certainly there.
“The challenge of state is what we wanted,” Andzelik said. “We have to take our shot when we get down there. The farther we go into state the more nervous we might be, but the beginning won’t be that bad. We’re happy we have that goal out of the way.”
Three regular games and three Baker games will determine seeding in an eight-school bracket. After that, teams will face each other in a five-Baker game format until a champion is crowned.
Where the Blue Devils finish remains to be seen, but Laube wouldn’t be surprised to see them at the top.
“I would like to see us in that final bracket,” he said. “If we can get into there, I like our chances because we’ve had good Baker games all year. I’d like to see us get into the top eight. I’d put us against anyone in the state when we get into Bakers.”
Contact Brad Bournival at firstname.lastname@example.org.