After three years of knocking on the door at the district level only to be left hanging, the Glen Este Lady Trojans took no chances and kicked the thing down on Wednesday, Feb. 26 at the Southwest Ohio District Championships at Beaver-Vu Lanes.
Finishing fourth overall as a team and punching their lane assignment for the state tournament on Saturday, March 8 at Wayne Webb’s Columbus Bowl, Glen Este’s accomplishment left their gregarious coach, Kathy Demarko, at a loss for words, if only for a moment.
“Wow,” she said. “That’s a big one.
“It’s been 10 years since the last state (appearance). I’ve spent 10 years of my life trying to get a team back there. Getting through the last segment of this kind of proved my point that I’ve known since (this group’s) freshman year that they were good enough. It was just a matter of getting their brains wrapped around how good they are.
“Looking at all the scores from around the Dayton area and around our area, we’re right there. Beavercreek is still one of the best there is; Centerville is right behind them, but we fall right behind that. I think legitimately, if we have our ‘A’ game and all five of our girls are on it, it’s a crapshoot of which one of us three teams is going to take (the state title).”
At districts, a solid three-game segment of 2,804 put the Lady Trojans in position to have a strong Baker series to punch their ticket to state. Sitting in fifth place after the segment with six teams advancing, Demarko, as only she can, called a meeting with all eight of her female bowlers.
“I can’t even tell you what I told them. It was a total girl thing,” she said. “I made our assistant coach (Tony Kellerman) walk away and told them basically that (women) have babies and if we can do that, we can do anything. I told them there isn’t a man on the planet who can do what we can do and they need to reach down deep inside of their soul and pull out everything they have and leave every last part of it on the lanes.”
Demarko’s encouraging and light-hearted words both inspired and loosened up her team en route to a six-game total of 1,204, the third-highest total behind Centerville and Beavercreek, both of whom outscored Glen Este by no more than 25 pins each.
Glen Este recorded a district championship total of 4,008, one pin behind third-place Kettering Fairmont, 162 pins behind Beavercreek and 164 pins behind district champions Centerville.
The experience earned throughout the first three years of this vaunted senior class’ time at GE and more so during their senior regular season helped propel them to the state stage.
“We always try to set our sights high and make sure our competition is higher,” Demarko said. “I want to challenge the kids and make them better. I want to bowl against the better teams.”
Along that same vein, Demarko scheduled the last match of the regular season at Beaver-Vu Lanes and against some of the top competition in the state. The confidence that the Lady Trojans earned to cap the regular season was only multiplied by winning their sectional, which Demarko says has been just as important as qualifying out of districts.
In preparing for state, the coach’s message has been consistent: pick up your spares. Demarko said strikes can get you a long way, but picking up those spares is the difference between a good game and a great game.
Her team is peaking at the right time and she’s quick to point out that it’s a complete team effort. Aside from the starting five who have emerged to carry the Glen Este flag on the lanes — Leslie Campbell, Haley Vogelgesang, Emily Doppes, Gabby Ruehlman and Drew Coulter — their teammates on the concourse — April Belanger, Courtney Chaffin and Madison Wells — have had just as much of an impact.
The eight members of the team, along with family and friends will be in the house on Saturday to cheer on the Lady Trojans and Demarko wasn’t shy about her expectations.
“We’d like to make it to the final-five bracket,” Demarko said. “(The state tournament) goes three games, three bakers and then it breaks down into a five baker-game bracket. I want to definitely make that bracket and then from there, because of how my girls are, I would love to bring home a state championship to Glen Este.
“It would mean the world to me and those girls if we could walk into that school with a state title.”
The girls’ Division I state championships will begin at 10:15 a.m. Saturday, March 8. By Saturday evening, a state championship will be crowned.
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