It is that time of the year again when we all have the opportunity to take one giant step away from the things that bring us stress and focus on the Godly blessings that we have been given.
The bowling world contains blessings of that nature when we take the time to either reflect or to simply see what is going on around us.
One of those moments that I considered myself blessed to have experienced occurred on March 3, 2007 at Tiki Lanes in Lancaster and the other this past week at Community Lanes in Minster.
There was an almost eerie connection between the two scenarios.
The first OHSAA state bowling tournament was held in Lancaster before being moved to the renovated Wayne Webb Bowl in Columbus. On this March 3 date I witnessed two teams from our area St. Henry and Coldwater eliminate Kettering Fairmont and Austintown Fitch for the opportunity to roll for the first ever OHSAA state bowling title. Just imagine that, the two communities could essentially fit in the parking lots of the two schools and on this day two Goliaths fell.
The thrill that I remain thankful for to this day was sitting between the two fan bases and listening to them guardedly cheering for one another. It was very clear who in their heart that they wanted to win that first title but they had friends and perhaps even extended family members rolling for the other side. It extended to the fact that each youth had been junior bowlers at Pla-Mor Lanes in Coldwater and that establishment to this day remains as their home lanes. In different cases they had bowled in the same junior leagues and even been teammates if I remember correctly.
Coldwater would win the match on that day, 3 baker games to 1 and thankfully the sun still came up the next day in Mercer County.
This memory came back to me on Saturday as Cecila Riepenhoff battled Britni Hosterman in the semifinals of the West Ohio High School pre season singles tournament in Minster.
This was to be the year of the three-peat for Britni and Brandon Kennard of the Wapakoneta Redskins. While the emotions were not as high as the battle in 2007, there was still somewhat of an eerie feeling in the room. Hosterman had battled to climb into the final four and Riepenhoff had rolled a 197 game in game three of the format to climb into the top seed.
The climb by Hosterman and final qualifying game by Riepenhoff had led to them being paired in the semi-final match. The match was tight throughout the first six frames as the crowd waited to see who would blink. To the credit of each of these two incredible young ladies, neither one of them did. Cecelia may have just opened her eyes a little wider and was able to string a series of strikes to take this match and advance 245-212.
Much like 2007 there was appreciation from both the LCC and Wapak side of things for a job well done, as the accepting Wapak fans spoke of how LCC had played team ball with them in the summer and they had felt her to be a great
person. They voiced how they were happy that if anybody had to beat Britni that it was her.
Cecilia used the big match over Britni as a springboard to the tourney finale over Dorian Regadanz 265-179. The WOHSBC records are in transition right now but this two-game performance has to be close.
“I was really happy but I was nervous. I was not used to that many people watching me and it made me nervous. My cousin Hannah really helped with that though and helped me to relax.”
Riepenhoff could not stop praising others. “I had looked at Hannah and told her that I had to bowl against Britni and that she was ‘really good’. She was great and told me that I was good too.”
“I really have to thank my cousin James. The shot that we had was perfect for me but he kept me focused on what I had to do to get my ball to the break point on the lanes.”
While she was very thankful for her parents, who got her started in the game and remain incredibly supportive, her next thought was about her Aunt Brenda. I could hear her cheering for every ball I threw. It was really great and helped a lot.
Earlier she had encouraged her mom and dad to get done what they had to get done at home and at 20th Century Lanes. She told them I never do good in these things anyway. Mom’s response was along the lines of “What the heck Cecelia!” Dad was incredibly proud.
There was even a specific conversation between James and Cecelia noticed by many at the end of the Hosterman match. “He suggested that I make a move in the tenth frame of that game, that it may be beneficial moving into the next game. I know that I had to have looked at him weird and in my mind I know that I said ‘why?’ but I made that lane adjustment and stayed with it the next game for the finals. I rolled the 265 so it must have been the right move!”, she said with a playful smile.
Last year her efforts to advance beyond sectional play were thwarted by five pins when her teammate Jared Nolte rolled a late double and stole that berth from her. That will not be the case this season as Cecilia has talked it through with the coaching staff and she will roll as a girl in sectional play this season. She would love to make a district berth.
With any fortune at all we will all be thankful when she carries it one step further.
Happy Thanksgiving! … Let’s pass that blessing onto another.