Dayton bowler Elizabeth Masminster is no stranger to history. Her father, Paul Masminster, holds the Northern Kentucky all-time series record with a score of 879 at Super Bowl Bellewood. He’s a former Greater Cincinnati Bowling Association all-city singles champion and a 2008 inductee into the GCBA Hall of Fame.
But daughter is attempting to do something father could never do. The young Masminster has a chance to qualify for the Kentucky High School Athletic Association girls’ singles state tournament and the boys’ team state tournament in February.
How is this possible?
Dayton has the region’s only co-ed bowling team.
“We have several girls. Right now, we’re combining the teams, so they bowl with the boys, and Elizabeth is my No. 2 bowler behind Gary Tipton,” Dayton coach Chris Jefferson said. “It’s a possibility she could bowl in the girls’ singles tournament at state and bowl for the boys. We’re off to a good start.”
The Dayton boys are a potential top-five team in Region 5. The top two teams from each region advance to state. Masminster bowled for the boys last season. She averaged 160. She joined the girls during the postseason and finished individual runner-up at the regional tournament and 14th at state, second-best among area participants. The top four individuals in the region advance.
Masminster qualified first at last year’s girls’ regional, but lost in the singles championship final. With her average up to 168, her goal is to win the region this time around, and have a better showing at state, while also helping the Dayton boys reach their goals. The Greendevils are seeking their first state berth.
Regional singles and team tournaments are the last week in January and the first week in February. The state events are Feb. 12-13 at Collins Eastland Lanes in Lexington. Campbell County has won the region all three years since the upgrade to varsity status in 2011, but suffered heavy graduation losses. Erica Hickman is the lone returning starter, but she’s a good one, averaging 174.
Scott is a threat to end the Camels’ run with a deep squad including returning regional semifinalist Becca Nienaber, Stephanie Ross, Stacey Dedden, Brandi Trenkamp and Amanda Connell. Ross leads with a 166 average. The Eagles won their first three matches. Highlands, led by Katelyn Schneider and Kathryn Ball, also started 3-0, as did Newport. Simon Kenton, paced by Vanessa Cheesman and Michelle Thomas, also will contend.
“I think Scott is the favorite because they have five consistent bowlers with solid averages,” said Camels coach Wayne Heringer. “After that, it’s a toss-up between Highlands and Newport. It’s going to be tough for us to win the region.”
Masminster’s top individual challenger is 2013 regional champion Katlyn Hoeh, a senior at Newport. Hoeh failed to make last season’s final four, missing out on a return trip to the state singles tournament. She returned to Lexington as a team member. Newport was regional team runner-up to Campbell County, and went to the state quarterfinals, the farthest advancement of any area squad.
Hoeh, third at state as a sophomore and the area record-holder with a game of 277, leads Northern Kentucky with a 203 average. Priorities are wresting back her regional crown, taking another shot at a state singles title, and leading the Wildcats back to the team event. Other bowlers to watch include Newport’s Mirena Combs, Bishop Brossart’s Lauren Sendelbach, Pendleton County’s Chyann Utz and Newport Central Catholic’s Jill Barth.
Boone County is defending Region 6 girls’ team champion, and Rebels junior Kayla Hightchew is defending singles champion. Boone County beat Cooper in last year’s team final. Both squads qualified for state but were eliminated in the first round. Beechwood, led by Amanda Bruce, and Notre Dame, led by Abby Kennedy, will also contend.
The Rebels are favorites to repeat. They won their first three matches of the season. Hightchew, the 2014 Enquirer Northern Kentucky bowler of the year, carries a 180 average. She led locals last season with an area record 192, and finished 23rd at state. Teammate Taylor Evans is at 191 with an area season-high 232. Hightchew, Evans and Samantha Schmitz are returning regional semifinalists and state qualifiers. Schmitz was fourth at state, the area’s top-placer.
Others to watch include Cooper’s Sierra Brandt, St. Henry’s Joanna Rebitski, Dixie’s Kirsten Wilson, Lloyd’s Catherine Wood, Covington Latin’s Christina Binkowski, and Holy Cross’ Kari Hamilton and Ashley Meeks.