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Harding bowling set for district

With the sectional portion of the Division I bowling tournament over, only two area teams in the division remain: Boardman, the sectional champion, and Warren G. Harding, which finished third.

As the district matches fast approach, Harding is eagerly awaiting the chance to hit the lanes again. With a senior-laden team, Raiders coach Michelle Schuller hopes to see her team together for as long as possible.

“This could potentially be the last time they all bowl together,” she said. “I’d like to see them get to state so that they can continue to bowl together and make this a great year, especially after the start of it.”

Like many teams around the state, Harding has been battling not only its competition but also the looming shutdowns. The team missed a two-week chunk of the season due to a positive COVID-19 test, but it returned just in time for sectional play.

“When the girls came back for sectionals, they came back with a vengeance,” Schuller said. “We weren’t doing very well through our season. We did OK, didn’t have anything to brag about through our season. We had bragging rights coming out of sections though, because we struggled so hard through our season.”

Raiders senior Abbey Frazzini was the fourth overall finisher, rolling a 605. She was followed up by sophomore Hailee Misel with a 492 and seniors Marissa Stear (489) and Mykayla Dorsey (480).

While the individual scores with the girls are consistent, there’s one aspect of consistency Schuller wants to see a real improvement on.

“They have to be consistent picking up spares in Baker games,” Schuller said. “They only get to throw the ball twice in a Baker game. They have to make those two throws every single Baker game, not just one or two Baker games or one or two shots. They have to make every single shot count during our Baker games.”

If everything goes well and the Raiders play up to their potential, there’s no doubt in Schuller’s mind that this isn’t the end for her team.

“We’re gonna do this,” she said. “We’re good enough. We can do this. Keep our heads down and we’ll do it.”

Harding will be running into some local competition, with Boardman also vying for one of those five qualifying positions.

The Spartans placed first in the sectional tournament, ahead of fellow qualifiers Harding and Kent Roosevelt, rolling a 4,079.

“I feel really good. I’m really excited,” Spartans coach Justine Cullen said. “The numbers that have been put up so far, we’re definitely in the driver’s seat a little bit. I definitely feel like a district title is possible.”

The Spartans have two of the area’s top bowlers in Josalyn Hibbard and Lexus Petrich. They were the top two individuals in the sectional with Hibbard rolling a 668 and Petrich, who has the top game in the state of Ohio this season with a 297, rolling a 641.

With that duo of seniors, Cullen is confident, but she knows the bowling needs to happen first before they book the trip to Columbus.

“There’s going to be some tough teams there for sure, but the top five go forward, and I feel really good about our chances of being in the top five,” Cullen said. “I feel like we could win the whole thing. It’s all about showing up and making shots, but my girls are doing really well right now.”

The key for Boardman is all about mentality.

“The biggest message is ‘Just keep the mentality, be in the moment, enjoy this and have fun and do what you do,’ “ Cullen said. “We don’t need to go out there and try to do something extraordinary or crazy. If they just stay within themselves, they’ll be fine.”

Last season’s trip to Columbus was a good way for the team to learn the mentality Cullen wants them to have. While she wants them to know they’re a good team, she doesn’t want them to be arrogant.

“I want them to have confidence without feeling cocky,” Cullen said. “I want them to believe that they can do it and understand that you can have a bad game, you can be beaten, but also have that confidence that ‘I can win, I can be better. If I just stay and focus on my shots and don’t look too far in the future, I’ll be good.’ “

Boardman’s boys team also qualified for the district tournament, finishing in third with a 4,119 pin count. Joe Taraszewski had a team-high with 668 pins, placing fifth among individual bowlers.

The Austintown Fitch boys team missed the cut by 127 pins.

Braylen Schuller of Warren G. Harding was the lone area individual qualifier, tallying 656 pins. On the girls end, Cassandra Wasilewski qualified for Fitch, rolling a 586, the seventh-ranked individual.

The boys bowlers face off today at 10 a.m. at Stonehedge Lanes in Akron, with the girls team meeting Monday at 11 a.m. at Freeway Lanes in Warren.

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