Elder Finishes Fourth In DI State Bowling Tourney


Posted on 3/15/2019 at 3:24 p.m.

La Salle’s Blessing Rolls 679 Series, Best Score Among Locals

Greater Catholic League South Division champion Elder, the first team in school history to win a district bowling championship, turned in another strong performance last weekend in the Ohio High School Athletic Association Bowling State Tournament – finishing fourth in the final team standings before a solid contingent of Elder fans who made the trek to Wayne Webb’s Columbus Bowl.  Vandalia Butler won its first state title, followed by Ashland, Mentor, Elder and Beavercreek rounding out the top five .

Elder was the lone team competing in the event from Cincinnati.

The Elder bowling program was making its second-ever appearance in the state tournament, and the Panthers entered the event with only three losses this season – all coming to GCL South rivals in La Salle twice and St. Xavier.  Elder’s season resume also included a title in the Springboro Invitational and runner-up finishes in the Centerville Elks Invitational and the Queen City Classic.

La Salle sophomore Nolan Blessing, who was named first team All-GCL South, had the best series among area bowlers at state – rolling a 679 to finish fifth.  Elder’s Ryan Kaffenberger, also named to the all-league team, came in seventh with a 666.  The other Elder bowlers, listed in their respective order of finish among the DI individual competitors and their series scores:   24. Jacob Hickey, 605; 81. Ethan Boyers, 415; 89. Cameron Brocker (one game),196; 92. Tyler Jansing (one game), 175; and 95. Jacob Holmes (one game), 159. 

Mostly comprised of juniors, Elder did get a solid performance from Hickey – a senior who was called up from the Panthers’ Varsity B team at midseason.  In just half a season, Hickey managed to bowl 26 games and average 206.5 without ever recording an appearance in a varsity match before this season.  He capped off his season by bowling all nine individual postseason games and shooting 600 in all three competitions (607, 631, 605).  The only other Elder bowler who rolled all nine individual postseason games was Junior Ryan Kaffenberger.

Kaffenberger was the 2017-18 GCL South Bowler of the Year by averaging 225.4 in his sophomore season.  Kaffenberger bowled in 45 of 48 possible games as a sophomore and followed it up by bowling in 46 of 48 games possible games this season and finished with a 212.9 average.  He was named first team All-GCL South for the second consecutive season.

The Panthers got off to a slow start at state, bowling their lowest game of the day (915) on their starting pair and sitting 12th in the team standings – knowing they would have to improve to make the eight-team cut.  Elder responded by rolling a 946 followed by a 949, enough to move them into eighth place, with only three Baker format games to be bowled.  The Panthers then shot games of 187, 224, and 173 (584) and had the third highest Baker round of the tournament, picking up a place going into the break.

During the break, All-Ohio individual bowlers were announced.  There are more than 1,500 varsity high school bowlers in the state, and only 15 were recognized at the state tournament, which is the top one percent.  Kaffenberger was seventh to make second team All-Ohio with a 666 (199-249-218).   Blessing, who helped lead La Salle to an 18-4 record overall, 14-4 in the GCL South and to finish one game behind Elder in the league standings, was fifth and, as a result, earned first team All-Ohio status with a 679 series (192-258-229).  No other Cincinnati bowlers placed, but Oak Hills’s Chase Francisco finished at No. 17 with a 632 and Hickey was No. 24 with a 605.

After qualifying seventh, Elder’s first opponent was Dayton rival, Beavercreek.  In the previous round, Beavercreek shot a team score of 3631 compared to Elder’s 3394.  However, after going up 2-1 and losing a very tough game four, 204-200, the Panthers captured the fifth and deciding game, game 5, 177-156, to advance to the Division I Final Four.  Ashland was Elder’s opponent in the semifinals and, after the Panthers claimed a 161-156 win in the first game, Ashland shot games of 226-246-226 to win, 3-1.  Butler then defeated Ashland, 3-1, in the finals.