Only the best can go for the gold. Regarding Pennsylvania high school girls’ bowling, 48 teams qualified and competed in regional tournaments. The field has now been narrowed down to 12 (six from the east and six from the west).
North Versailles Bowling Center in Pittsburgh suburb North Versailles is slated to host the 2016 team state championships on March 19 at 9 a.m. The east will be represented by Shikellamy (regional champion), Lewisburg, Elizabethtown, Pennsbury, Governor Mifflin, and Harry S. Truman. As for the other six, Norwin (regional champion), Plum, Armstrong, Hempfield Area, Canon McMillan, and Butler represent the west.
During qualifying, each team bowls three regulation games followed by six baker-style games across 12 lanes. After the completion of qualifying, the top four advance to the steppladder baker playoffs (each match is best two-out-of-three). The fourth and third seeds will meet in a quarterfinal, the quarterfinal victor faces the two seed in a semifinal, and the semifinal winner battles the top qualifier for statewide glory.
Pennsbury arrives as the defending champion. In last year’s tournament, which was held at 222 Dutch Lanes in Ephrata, the Falcons defeated Elizabethtown, 2-1 (164-167, 185-181, 187-148), for its first title in program history; it was the first crown for any Suburban One League girls’ squad. Lexi Connor, Elizabeth Bruner, 2016 state singles qualifier Kellie Frain, and Brittany Sinclair return and are joined by Kimmy Bonar and Megan Bruce; Sage Osterhout, Aurora Erdly, and Emily Higginson aren’t on the roster due to graduating last June.
Shikellamy came out on top in the 28-team east regional by defeating Lewisburg in the final, 2-1 (157-161, 154-142, 209-136). The Braves have Kristen Derr, Ashley Fister, Hope Heller-Herman, state singles participant Ashlee Wertman, Becka Klock, Abigail Ranck, and Erin Oakes. Last year at states, Shikellamy lost to Pennsbury in a quarterfinal match, 2-0 (143-188, 122-179), settling for fourth place.
Norwin won the 20-team west regional by beating Plum in the title match, 2-1. The Lady Knights consist of state singles competitors Brianna Lundy (215.23 average), Jules Goehring (201.38), Brooke Lundy (198.43), and Rachel Lundy (188.62), along with Sarah Kunkle (167.00) and Lizzy Pusateri (160.62). This squad missed the stepladder playoffs in states last year by 12 pins behind Shikellamy, finishing in fifth (Norwin had 3,896, but Shikellamy compiled 3,908).
You shouldn’t count out Lewisburg from making noise. The Dragons are led by state singles contender and anchor Alexis Neuer, who posted a 738 three-game series at this year’s east team regional; at singles events, she has two Eastern Pa. runner-up finishes (2015 and 2016) and earned second place at states last year (lost to Butler’s Megan Paul). Lewisburg, in the team event for the first time since 2006, also has Dentin Kline, Kathryn Gardner, Haley Trutt, Whitney Hans, Quinn Cummings, and Lauren Chamberlin.
This marks the 24th year Pa. is holding state championships for bowling. Pennsbury, Elizabethtown, Butler, Hempfield Area, and Shikellamy have taken home a combined seven titles. Among all past champions, Wilson (Berks) has the most crowns with seven (1992, 1993, 1994, 1998, 1999, 2002, and 2005).