By Josh Brown
Miami Valley Today
TROY — It never gets old to Troy girls bowling coach Rob Dever.
But this time around, the circumstances were a bit different.
The Troy girls bowling team qualified to the Division I state tournament for the sixth straight year and will compete Saturday at Wayne Webb’s Columbus Bowl, while on the boys side Troy’s Brayden Ganger and Tippecanoe’s James Ridgeway will compete as individuals on Friday.
For the girls — who won a state title in 2016 — it’s the sixth appearance in a row as a team and the 12th in the last 15 years.
“This one’s pretty special, to be honest,” Dever said. “Well, each year is special, but this one is in a different way. At the beginning of the year, we were nowhere near ready for state-level competition. The girls have just come so far since then — and it all came together at the district tournament.”
Things looked particularly dicey after the sectional tournament, where the Trojans finished 9th and narrowly grabbed the next-to-last team qualifying spot.
“At the sectional, we just stumbled a bit,” Dever said. “Our energy was not where it needed to be. We were never in danger of missing the cut, but I didn’t like how we finished that tournament.”
The next week? Couldn’t have been more different.
“At the district, we just focused on having fun,” Dever said. “We didn’t overthink things, we didn’t get paralyzed by the environment and we tried to just let our ability take over. And to the girls’ credit, they did. And they had a bawl.
“Sometimes, I’m not sure which comes first: the energy, or the good bowling. But we had both that day.”
Of the teams that finished ahead of Troy at the sectional, only Springfield did so at the district tournament, finishing second. Fairborn was the only other team from Troy’s sectional to qualify for state, finishing in the fifth and final qualifying spot.
“If you had told me at the beginning of the season that we’d be here now, I would’ve been delighted. Heck, I am right now,” Dever said. “The goal at the beginning of the season was to get to district. Realistically, I didn’t think we were ready for state. And that’s what makes this group so special, how far they’ve come. This group didn’t have the expectations that some of the others have had. The last few years, getting to state has been the goal. This was a little unexpected, and the girls are on cloud nine.
“That’s one of the neat things about going with all these different groups. And they all get to experience the fun of going to state. The girls are confident right now. They’re coming off of a really good weekend.”
On the boys side, the Trojans — who qualified as a team last year and finished 11th — will be represented by Ganger, who finished 67th individually with a 526 series. Ganger finished 11th at last week’s district tournament with a 685 series to claim the final individual qualifying spot.
“Brayden bowled really well at the district,” Dever said. “He had to, to get through that competition. The boys side is a little deeper. You could run that district tournament 10 times and have eight or nine different combinations of qualifiers with how close together they are. The boys were disappointed not to be able to go as a team, but it just wasn’t meant to be.
“It’s extremely difficult to bowl at state as an individual. It feels like it’s you against the world. But you’ve just got to go out and bowl and not think about all that.”
Ganger will be joined by Tippecanoe’s Ridgeway, who rolled a 704 series at the district tournament to finish third individually and qualify.
The boys begin bowling at 8:30 a.m. on Friday, with the girls starting competition at 8:30 a.m. Saturday.
Contact Josh Brown at email@example.com, or follow @TroyDailySports on Twitter.
©2020 Miami Valley Today, all rights reserved.