Raymond Lehew is concerned. His concern stems from the uncertain future he feels the sport of bowling is heading towards.
“The future of bowling is in the youth,” Raymond Lehew, Hilltop Lanes manager, said. “If we don’t get them involved in the sport at an early age it will soon fade out.”
However, on a night like Thursday night he can take comfort in seeing students actively participating in high school bowling competition.
Hilltop Lanes was the site of the beginning of bowling season for the North Central district. Waxahachie’s bowling staple is in its second year of hosting a high school bowling season.
Waxahachie varsity (1-0) captured a 14-0 victory over Red Oak (0-1) varsity and Midlothian varsity (0-1) lost 7-8 to Waxahachie junior varsity (1-0).
“We’re amazing,” senior Travis Smith said, before the game. “We are playing like a bunch of pros out there.”
Smith led all scorers with combine total of 436. Red Oak’s Justin Lesley was second with a total of 431.
The North Central district comprises of four bowling teams: Red Oak varsity, Midlothian varsity, Waxahachie varsity and junior varsity.
The four bowling teams meet every Tuesday for practices and Thursday for games. As of now, the teams are considered clubs and are not recognized by the University Interscholastic League as a sport.
“Our goal is doing it a club level for now,” Lehew said. “Hopefully, they we will be able to get U.I.L. to recognize it as a high school sport.”
Each team will face each other throughout a nine game season ending Feb. 14. Each week varsity teams will face each other in district games. The third varsity will play against the sole junior varsity team in non-district games.
For example, Dec. 13 was the first date of district competition. The first district game was Waxahachie varsity against Red Oak varsity. This resulted in Midlothian varsity playing a non-district game against the Waxahachie junior varsity.
During the games, there are five bowlers representing each team. They bowl two games of head to head competition where one individual will compare his scores to an individual from another team with no handicapping. The winners of the individual match up points, which will go towards the total team points.
After the two individual games, there is the Baker’s game. In this game the five bowlers are assigned frames in one game. For instance, an individual will bowl frames one and six, another would bowl two and seven and so on.
By the end of these games, the points will total up to 15. For example, Thursday night the Waxahachie varsity beat Red Oak varsity 14-1 and Midlothian varsity loss 7-8 to Waxahachie junior varsity.
With the first district victory under its belt, the Waxahachie varsity is on its way to defending last year’s district title.
“They are a great bunch of kids,” Head coach Bill Armstrong said. “I’m enjoying coaching them. We hope to repeat as champions.”
At the end of the season, the team with the best record will be the winner of the North Central district. The winning team will then advanced to regional.
After regional games, the top 20 teams will move on to the State tournament March 29-30 in Houston.
Last year, the Waxahachie and Midlothian varsity teams advanced to the regional playoffs. Coach Armstong believes last year’s success has sparked an interest for bowling.
“Last year we had 10 kids on our team,” he said. “This year 19 kids participated in our try-outs.”
For Waxahachie, its team consists of 15 players. There are 8 on varsity and 7 on junior varsity.
Lehew is pleased to see the results of interest in a sport he has enjoyed for much of his life and hopes it continues to grow.
“It’s a sport you can play at four all the way until you’re a hundred and four,” he said. “It’s a lifetime sport.”
E-mail Anthony at firstname.lastname@example.org