COLUMBUS — The Wadsworth boys bowling team made quite a pop Friday at the Division I state tournament. Don’t be surprised if the Grizzlies explode next season.
Coming in with the ninth-best district qualifying score, Wadsworth made the semifinals in bracket competition to finish fourth at Wayne Webb’s Columbus Bowl.
Brunswick’s Nathan Barbopoulos rolled a 569 series (186-182-201) to finish tied for 40th in a field of 205.
That it took eventual state champion Celina to knock out the Grizzlies shows they’re on the rise.
“The talk the whole way home is just how close we are,” Wadsworth coach George Steele said. “The core of the team is still there. We have a freshman coming on that averages 190s already and Justin Ford has been developing all season. We’re ready to take it on and finish it out.”
The squad almost did that in its first trip to Columbus.
Cooper Wrobel (586, 220-215-151), Eric Auffenberg (563, 236-157-170), Chris Steele (549, 186-190-173), Austin Wrobel (552, 182-221-159) and Randall Clark (518, 177-171-170) registered solid showings to help Wadsworth make the final eight.
Only Clark and Austin Wrobel will graduate.
“It was pretty cool because I knew if we made the cut, it was anybody’s game from there,” Auffenberg said. “It’s just a matter of who is hot at that time.”
Wadsworth pretty much stayed hot from the first frame until the last frame.
Opening with a collective score of 1,001 in the first game, the Grizzlies weren’t just happy with being there.
“That’s what my strategy has been with them,” George Steele said. “We have to come out and take advantage of the first two games where we either get a lead or we have some room in case things don’t go our way.
“It’s exactly what we did in sectional, exactly what we did in districts. We came up with a big game, followed it up with a solid game and once we got to third, if things slipped up we were able to maintain the cut or maintain the lead.”
Seeded eighth in the bracket play, the Grizzlies drew Oak Hills in the first round and went five Baker Games in the best-of-five format to advance past the No. 1 seed.
After losing Game 1, Wadsworth won Games 2, 3 and 5 to draw fourth-seeded Celina in the semifinals.
“Even though we didn’t win, we can still walk out and know we’re one of the top teams in the state,” Cooper Wrobel said. “Being able to take out the top team by taking all five (games), it was great.”
While Celina took Wadsworth out 203-177, 206-175, 239-201, the Grizzlies were the talk of the lanes and the team of the future over the weekend.
“We’re ready to take it on and finish it out,” George Steele said. “I couldn’t be prouder. What could I say as a coach? They did more than what anybody expected them to do to begin with. That comes from other teams and other coaches. In fact, when we made the cut other teams were going, ‘Who’s Wadsworth?’
“By the end of the tournament, I had coaches that I had bowled against before that didn’t give me the time of day telling me, ‘Wow, what a group.”
Contact Brad Bournival at firstname.lastname@example.org.