Kiefer Hillerich, a senior at Manual, is the new boys’ singles champion in Kentucky high school bowling, but he had to beat his own teammate to claim the crown.
Hillerich, who was the state runner-up to Brandon Hatton of Scott County in 2012, beat Manual junior Kyle Abell 222-210 in Thursday’s final of the Ebonite/KHSAA Bowling State Championships at Executive Strike and Spare.
“Actually, it’s difficult to play your teammate,” Hillerich said. “Kyle is a bowling student of mine and a teammate. I’m his primary coach. I’m there to help him.”
Tom Shulak officially is Manual’s coach, but he doesn’t mind if Hillerich tutors Abell because “I have 13 others to coach on our team.”
Shulak wasn’t surprised Hillerich won.
“Kiefer has been our No. 1 bowler all year,” he said. “He practices the most and works the hardest.”
Crystal Land, a junior at Bryan Station, won the girls’ singles title by defeating Scott County freshman Sarah Doyle 233-195 in another match between close friends.
“We’re in the same region (Seven), and we bowl on the same team in a youth league at Eastland in Lexington,” Land said. “Sarah won the region and I was second. I wanted both of us to win today, but that wasn’t possible.”
Team competition begins today, the girls starting at 7:50 a.m. with their final at 12:15 p.m. The boys start at 1:35 p.m. with their final at 5:15. Pleasure Ridge Park’s girls and Scott County’s boys are the defending champions.
Hillerich, who lost the 2012 final by one pin despite rolling a 268, said he had “six strikes in a row at one point” against Abell. “Being the top qualifier (among the top four finishers) helps your confidence. You can relax knowing you can go a bit further (in the tournament).”
Abell, a left-hander who led all 32 contestants after three games with his 759 series, edged PRP’s Anthony Alvey 40-39 in a rolloff after they had tied with 226s in their regular stepladder match. Abell went strike-spare-strike and Alvey went spare-spare-strike in the rolloff.
Alvey lost the Region Three title when Fern Creek freshman Jared Armstrong rolled a 300 game. Armstrong didn’t fare well Thursday, finishing 24th among the 32 entrants with his 568 series (189-192-187).
Abell couldn’t get on a hot streak against Hillerich.
“I started well, but I never had a streak of strikes,” he said. “I spared to keep it close. Kiefer had a good line.”
Land finished seventh and Doyle sixth in last year’s state meet, so they expected to do well. Land rolled six strikes in the final, including four in a row.
“I did well last year, so I was hoping to improve on that this year,” she said. “I was trying to hit my mark. I was focusing and not getting nervous.”
Doyle, who missed the top five last year by only four pins, said the final “didn’t go as well as I would have liked. I switched balls and that helped me. I had three straight strikes starting with the 10th frame.”
At Executive Strike and Spare
Boys’ singles: Final — Kiefer Hillerich, Manual, d. Kyle Abell, Manual, 222-210; stepladder: Abell d. Anthony Alvey, Pleasure Ridge Park, 40-39 in rolloff (they tied 226-226 in regulation); Abell d. Michael McCubbins, Male, 2658-212.
Top 8 qualifiers after 3 games: 759 — Abell (257-247-255); 750–Hillerich (216-268-225); 688–Trey Brun, Campbell County (244-257-187); 676–Conor Minogue, Trinity (238-246-192); 675–Kaleb Miller, South Warren (221-258-196); 667–Alvey (183-259-225); 662–McCubbins (216-209-237); 628–James Apo, Henry Clay (189-225-214).
Top Four (after 5 games): 1186–Hillerich (209-268); 1180–Abell (233-188); 1160–Alvey (276-217); 1120–McCubbins (235-223).
Girls’ singles: Final — Crystal Land, Bryan Station, d. Sarah Doyle, Scott County, 233-195; stepladder: Doyle d. Katlyn Hoeh, Newport, 190-175; Hoeh d. Megan Kindoll, Scott High, 229-217.
Top 8 qualifiers after 3 games: 667–Doyle (192-229-246); 640–Land (224-202-214); 637–Shelby Barnett, Taylor County (232-204-201); 637–Shelby Bigos, PRP (162-234-241); 624–Keelyn Cox, PRP (236-206-182); 620–Kindoll (203-204-213); 609–Hoeh (190-212-207); 599–Megan Minch, Mercy Academy (203-203-193).
Top Four after 5 games: 1092–Land (215-237); 1072–Doyle (206-199); 1024–Hoeh (202-213); 1019–Kindoll (184-215).