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Girard aims to return to state

The Girard girls’ bowling team is looking to make its way back to the state tournament again, and with a third-place performance earlier in the month in the sectional round, it is one step closer.

Girard hits the lanes again Saturday in the district round at Rebman Rec in Lorain at 10 a.m.

The Indians return two top-25 performers from last season’s state-qualifying team in junior Maddie Moore, who bowled a 530 in the state tournament, and senior Rachel Forebeck, who bowled a 521 at state and a 685 in the sectional.

Experience is a quality Girard has in spades, with four seniors, a junior and a freshman.

“The girls have experience,” Indians coach Pete Barta said. “They’ve been there, they know what it takes. They work hard and they really gel as a team. … We’re going to give it a run. That’s all we can do.”

Barta has been taking a chess-like approach to how the team gets matches. While the experience bowling in a regular season provides is valuable, the cost outweighs the benefits in a season where the only goal lies in Columbus.

“Normally, we would bowl a bunch of tournaments,” he said. “It was about getting to the postseason and trying to get to state, so we didn’t do that. We didn’t bowl tournaments and stuff because I didn’t want to put the kids at risk. If somebody gets (COVID-19), it’s gonna shut down your program. This was really a strategic decision on my part.”

That didn’t stop them from getting their practice in however. The decision to avoid tournaments paid off as the team dodged a shutdown.

“We still bowled a full schedule,” Barta said. “I think we bowled 11 or 12 matches, which is decent, but we didn’t go for all the different tournaments and some of those people at those tournaments did have COVID and caused shutdowns in other programs.”

Without bowling in tournaments, there has been a downside for the team. Barta worries that the mental aspect of the game won’t be as refined as usual, without playing in the higher-stakes atmosphere of a tournament.

“I like to get my kids in those situations, because I like for them to feel that pressure before they’re on the big stage,” he said. “I think the kids have adjusted really well, but there’s only so much you can do in practice and by bowling against other people in other bowling centers only helps you become that much better.”

For Girard, the goal is to make it back to state as a team, but Barta says there’s one major obstacle lying in the way.

“The team, we’ve got to pick up our spares,” he said. “It always comes down to that. I’m sure everybody says that, but it’s true. If we don’t pick up our spares, we’re not going to make it.”

Also bowling in the Division II district round in Lorain are the Hubbard, Liberty, Champion and Garfield girls teams as well as the boys teams from Lakeview, Hubbard, Struthers, LaBrae and Brookfield.

The boys teams bowl today at 10 a.m.

In addition to the qualifying teams, the Mahoning Valley will be well-represented with individual competitors.

Macy Devine and Alison Breighner from Brookfield, Angeleah Matzye from Campbell, Sarah Reakes from LaBrae and Caitlin Kachurik from Lakeview will be representing the area in the Division II girls district tournament.

Area bowlers for the Division II boys district tournament include Brennan Romain, Jacob Callahan and Joseph Nohra from Liberty, Dan Barker from McDonald and Matthew Angell from Champion.

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