GREENFIELD — Although Greenfield-Central’s bowling team will make its second straight appearance in the Indiana High School Bowling state finals this weekend, this season’s feat tastes a little sweeter.
After battling a rough start Saturday at the Anderson Semistate, Cougars head coach Brian Petrey calmed his team’s nerves near the end of the meet and helped Greenfield-Central earn a come-from-behind sixth place finish.
The Cougars finished sixth at semistate last season, too.
And with junior Clayton Spegal’s first-place finish in the single portion of the semistate, Greenfield-Central will have its first-ever individual representative at the state finals.
“Well to put it into perspective, I’m lost for words honestly,” said Spegal, who won a sectional title earlier this month. “But if it wasn’t for my team, I wouldn’t be where I am today. In shorter terms, it is truly amazing to see how far I’ve come with my bowling.”
Added Petrey: “This year tastes a little different. Last year it felt like we were chased down, and this year we were the hunter not the hunted.”
Spegal started the day on pace to advance but eventually ran into a pickle. In his final game of the stepladder finals, Spegal left a 7-10 split on the board, jeopardizing his shot at school history.
His final score of 673 was good enough to advance to the finals by just four points as the junior went on to roll through the competition for the championship.
He got better with each game, too, beating Josh Turney of Bedford North Lawrence 200-164 and Josh Huebschman of Jasper 202-152 to advance to the title game against Carmel’s Grant Oehler.
Spegal pulled away at the end and won 235-216.
“They were throwing strikes like crazy,” Petrey said. “They lit it up like fire.”
The only other Cougar, according to Petrey, to make it this far in the singles competition was just last season, when Eryn Ellis competed in the Indianapolis Semistate for the girls bowling team.
After the singles event, it was the team’s turn to earn a trip to the state’s biggest match of the season.
With two games in the book, Greenfield-Central found itself in fourth with the third through tenth place teams separated by a narrow margin. But with two poor games in a row, the team dropped from fourth to ninth in nearly a blink of an eye.
“I reminded them to stay focused, stay strong and take it one frame at a time,” Petrey said. “I told them it wasn’t as bad as they thought, just finish this thing the best you can.
“Don’t let the lanes beat you up.”
From there, Petrey and his Cougars rallied from a 23-point deficit to leap into sixth by just 10 pins. They survived and advanced. Greenfield-Central’s final game of 198 was the highest of all teams (12) in the field, as well.
“They stayed with it, and I was proud of them,” Petrey said.
Twelve teams and 26 individuals will compete at the state finals today at Mike Aulby’s Arrowhead Bowl in Lafayette. The singles portion of the event will begin at 9 a.m. with the team event to follow at 1 p.m.
Indiana High School Bowling State Finals
– Today at Mike Aulby’s Arrowhead Bowl, Lafayette, Indiana
– Singles event begins at 9 a.m., team event will start at 1 p.m.
– Competing schools: Jasper, Franklin Central, New Castle, Carmel, Noblesville, Greenfield-Central, McCutcheon, Lake Central, Portage, South Bend Riley, Angola and Griffith.
Anderson Semistate Team Scores