FORT THOMAS – Jake Farley didn’t have his best match Jan. 8 against St. Henry.
The Highlands High School bowler had some car sickness getting from Fort Thomas to Erlanger to compete against the Crusaders at Super Bowl. And then he was about 20 pins under his average during the team competition.
But the Bluebirds have enough depth that they didn’t need their top player to be at his best as they rolled to a 6-1 win over St. Henry, averaging 196 for the match. The Bluebirds improved to 8-0 matches and 49-7 overall in points (seven points possible per match).
“We all pick each other up,” he said. “When I’m having a bad day, I know they can do well.”
Farley was fourth at state in singles last year and led the Bluebirds to the state final, where they lost to Scott County. He was the honoree of the National Guard Best & Brightest Award.
Heading into play Jan. 8, he had the top average in Northern Kentucky in team matches with a 223, including a high game of a near-perfect 289 which is the highest in the region this season. Against St. Henry, he shot a solid 205-200 after vomiting in the parking lot upon arrival to Super Bowl Erlanger.
Andy Campbell stepped up his game that day, shooting 481 (236-245). He came in second to Farley in Northern Kentucky with a 213 average. Highlands has five other players who averaged between 170 and 190.
“We’ve got a good team,” Farley said. “If you look at most good teams, they have four or five really good bowlers and I think we have eight strong bowlers who are capable of bowling really strong. We have a really deep team”.
The boys team was coming off the team championship at the Covington Catholic Team Challenge, which is set up like the regional tournament with match play in the Baker format, in which five teammates roll two frames apiece in a single game.
The Highlands girls have been just as potent this season, going undefeated in matches and 51-5 in points after beating St. Henry 6-1 as well. Katelyn Schneider had the top average of 154 going in. Abbey Parrott, Kathryn Hall and Tessa Woody. Highlands did not qualify for state last year and is looking to make up for it.
“We’ve been really good. The girls have been rolling through everybody. We just need to get ready for regionals,” said girls head coach Steve Guilkey. “Most of our better bowlers are younger girls. They’ve been really solid all year.”
Both teams are hoping to peak at the Region 5 championships, which will be Jan. 26 (singles) and Jan. 28 (team) at Super Bowl Bellewood. Schmidt expects a tight battle for berths at state in both divisions, and the Bluebirds hope last year’s experiences help.
“It prepares us for when we get into those type of situations,” Farley said. “It helps take the pressure off because we’ve been there before. We’re more prepared.”
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