Bowlers rolling for statewide title

Avonworth High School's girls' bowling team will take its perfect 10-0 season record to state championship competition, with playoffs beginning today in Lancaster. Pictured above, from left are Sarah Svoboda, Hannah Schoeppner, Lauren Schoeppner, Kimmi D'Ottavio, Emily Grambo, Kara Rudzik, Paige Adams, with coach Jeff Schoeppner.

Over the course of the season, the team lost just one game, to Bishop Canevin, and by only four points. While the team was disappointed with that loss, it did not blemish the perfect record, as each match is determined by best-of-three games.

The team qualified to advance to state competition by emerging as regional winners last weekend, defeating teams from schools that included North Allegheny, Butler, Norwin and several others.

At both the regional and state levels, the champion is determined by a combination of three regular games and six “baker” games, bakers being a team format where more than one bowler -- most commonly five bowlers -- comprise the score of one game. The total pinfall of those games determines a team's placement.

Because the Avonworth team is classified as being a club sport rather than a school-sponsored sport, the team has had to do its own fund-raising to cover expenses.Coach Jeff Schoeppner and his wife, Julie, volunteer as coaches, and, Jeff noted, "Many other parents assist with odds and ends. Without a great and supportive parent base, we would not be as successful."

While the sport has yet to attract the attention sparked by teams that make it to Heinz Field or Hershey, the athletes have no less pride and enthusiasm in their accomplishments.

Speaking for her teammates, junior Hannah Schoeppner, who has been bowling since she was 5 years old, said, "It's just great. I didn't think that a team started just four years ago could do this. But we are all so dedicated, and we support each other and that's why we have made it so far."

The team consists of 13 girls in all, but post-season play is limited to seven bowlers. With just three team members being lost to graduation, Coach Schoeppner confidently predicts, "And we'll be back next year, too!"

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