By Josh Brown
TROY — Two state championships, one for the boys and one for the girls. An individual state championship on the girls’ side. And a slew of top-eight finishes on both sides.
Troy bowling has been enjoying a dynasty this decade.
The Trojan girls — who won the state championship last season — continued their strong run with a second-place finish Friday at the Division I state bowling tournament at Wayne Webb’s Columbus Bowl, falling only to Stow-Monroe Falls in the title match. But it was also the latest in a long line of strong finishes the program has posted since 2009, when the girls also finished as the state’s runner-up.
“When you have that success, you know what it takes to get there (to the state tournament), and you know what to expect when you do get there,” Troy girls bowling coach Rob Dever said. “The girls know what to expect when they get there, and so they’ve been able to handle that very well. Getting into the finals back-to-back years is pretty impressive.”
That feat alone is impressive, but what the current Troy girls team has done once in the finals makes it even more impressive. Last year, the Trojans finished third in individual qualifying then went on to defeat conference rival Beavercreek in the state championship match, 4-1.
And this season, the Trojans again finished third after individual qualifying, defeating No. 6 Gahanna Lincoln in the quarterfinals 3-1. Troy then faced No. 2 Columbus Briggs in the semifinals and had to rally from a 2-1 deficit to win the best-of-five baker game match 3-2, with Troy bowling scores of 194-169-119-171-198 and Briggs bowling 180-208-222-129-169.
In the finals, Troy took on fourth-seeded Stow-Monroe Falls — which had defeated last year’s runner-up and the top qualifier, Beavercreek, 3-1 in its semifinal matchup. And in a high-scoring opening game of the match, the Trojans lost by only eight pins, 224-216 to fall behind 1-0.
“We had a chance to win that game,” Dever said. “Jenna (Stone) had thrown the first strike in the 10th (frame), and if she’d thrown the second strike, then we would’ve needed a nine-count to win — which is no guarantee. She threw a great shot and just left a solid 10-pin, and we ended up losing that one.”
Stow-Monrow Falls didn’t stop there, bowling games of 211 and 212 to Troy’s 182 and 179 to finish off the victory.
And through the Trojans had to settle for second place, against that kind of opposition, the team was still satisfied.
“They were really happy and upbeat,” Dever said. “When we got to the finals, we bowled well — it was just that the other team bowled better. You can’t play defense. In the semifinals, we were down 2-1 and came back to win that match. We were on the brink of not even making it that far — I think they were thrilled to be in the finals. Once we were there, there was nothing else really we could have done. The other team, they just bowled three games over 210.
“They weren’t upset. They know how hard it is to go all the way. The manner in which we lost wasn’t disappointing. They would’ve been really disappointed if we bowled bad and lost. But since we bowled well and lost, like I said, you can’t play defense.”
It’s been a decade of dominance for the Trojans, though.
The Trojans’ run truly began in 2007, when the girls team qualified for the final eight and placed sixth. In 2008, the team was back in the final eight and finished fourth — with the boys also finishing sixth that season — and then in 2009 the girls were the state runner-up, losing to champion Pemberville-Eastwood in five games, had had two individuals in the top five including the overall individual state champion.
In 2010, the girls placed 11th, missing the cut to qualify for bracket play, and in 2011 the girls qualified and finished fourth overall. But that season belonged to Troy’s boys, as they defeated Wapakoneta in five games to claim the program’s first ever state team championship. The following season in 2012, the Trojan boys would go back to the final eight but placed sixth as a team, and in 2013 the boys placed 10th, and they have not been back as a team since.
“Yeah, we’ve definitely had some good runs in the past,” Dever said.
The year 2015 marked the beginning of the current Troy girls’ run, as they placed 11th and missed the cut for the final eight before winning the title last season and finishing second this year.
So how will Troy follow up this 10-year run starting next season after graduating one senior off of its championship team and then two seniors — Kirsten McMullen and Jennica Funderburg — off of this runner-up team?
“I think expectations are very high,” Dever said. “We’re going to be bringing back our top three averages, with Jenna, A’leigha (Smith) and Cassidy (McMullen). Plus Alyssia Shilt and Sierra Brown will be back. If we can work them in the offseason and get them to the 170-180-range — which is very doable, based on where they’re at now — we’ll have a pretty strong team. That’s our hope going into next year.
“The future still looks bright. I’m sure our goal going into next year will be to get back to state. Same as always.”
Contact Josh Brown at (937) 552-2132, or follow @TroyDailySports on Twitter.