CHAMPION - When it comes to state tournaments for Maplewood High School, athletes are usually running 3.1 miles or showing off their skills on the track.
Mark McCloskey Jr. has now changed that.
The junior bowler is the first Rocket in program history to advance to the state tournament - and he did so after earning medalist honors in last week's district championship. He will bowl in the Division II state championship today at Wayne Webb's Columbus Bowl.
"I've been asking all the cross country guys what it's like, I can't really ask anyone else," McCloskey said. "I'm excited. I just have to keep my nerves down, that's the main thing, 'cause bowling is all about calm and throwing a good ball, and if I'm nervous, it isn't going to work."
McCloskey shouldn't have been too surprised by his finish, considering he bowled 16 consecutive strikes between his second and third games, which led him to a district-high 656 series.
"I was shocked (at the first place finish)," McCloskey said. "My mom knew about it, she didn't tell me. Dad came out and told me congrats and told me I was first overall. I couldn't believe it."
This season, McCloskey led the Rockets with a 199 average. However, through the tournaments, McCloskey has been catching his stride, averaging a 214.1 through sectionals and districts.
Today, McCloskey and the rest of the individual bowlers from the state will bowl three games - same as the bowlers who are there as a part of the team tournament. All of the bowlers scores will be tallied and the top 15 will receive All-Ohio honors.
The junior said he doesn't have any set goals for today - the state tournament alone is the culmination of a goal he set for himself at the beginning of the year.
"I just want to throw every good ball," McCloskey said. "I don't care if it carries, as long as I throw a good ball and hit my line. If it carries, it carries, if it doesn't, I just have to pick it up.
"You can ask my dad at the beginning of the season, I said 'I just want to go to state. And if I place high enough, I want to get into the Hall of Fame at school.' "