GREENFIELD — After striking past regional competition for the second season in a row — while exorcising an old demon — Greenfield-Central’s young bowling team is anticipating a prime showing at the Anderson Semistate this Saturday at Championship Lanes.
Led by junior Clayton Spegal’s sixth-place finish (630), the Cougars topped rival Franklin Central at the Noblesville Regional for the first time this season on way to earning their second title in school history. The only other title for the program came after winning the 2015 sectional meet.
“It felt good to finally take them down,” Greenfield-Central head coach Brian Petrey said. “The kids loved it and had a level head about it — not thinking about revenge until it was done.
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“It was a good sigh of relief.”
New Palestine junior Aaron Pierson led the Dragons with a 14th place finish (573) and also will advance to semistate competition (singles portion).
Playing against qualifiers from five other sectionals, Greenfield-Central started the day steady and continued it most of the afternoon. After two five-man games, the Cougars found themselves down 46 pins in all to Noblesville but only 36 behind Franklin Central.
With the lead changing back-and-forth, Franklin Central landed the No. 1 seed after qualifying (top 4 teams) ahead of Greenfield-Central, Alexandria and Noblesville. Alexandria would then defeat Noblesville 384-373 in the quarterfinal.
The Cougars wasted little time with Alexandria (402-362), however, and blasted into the finals for the second time in three weeks against the Flashes, who beat Greenfield-Central twice during the regular season and once during sectional play.
After grabbing an early lead, the Cougars held off a furious comeback from Franklin Central en route to their first regional championship. Freshman Will Blagburn’s strike in the 9th frame set up teammate Zach Knopp, a sophomore, who would only need a spare or strike in the 10th to lock up the win.
“They (Knopp and Blagburn) were definitely my two best bowlers that day (team event),” Petrey said, who has seven rookies this season with only one junior and senior.
“They are tournament-tested.”
The sixth-place finish is extra special for Spegal, too, who will compete in the singles portion of semistate as well. The senior failed to make it out of the sectional round as an individual last season.
The top six teams will move on to the Indiana State Finals in West Lafayette on Feb. 20. Last season, Greenfield-Central finished 12th at state and sixth at the semistate.
“I think last year we got a little nervous,” Petrey said. “This year, I just look to improve.”
Anderson Bowling Semistate
– Saturday Feb. 13
– Championship Lanes (1920 E 53rd St, Anderson, IN 46013)
– Singles begin at 9 a.m., team event begins at 1 p.m.
– Admission is 8$ for adults and 6$ for children