The North Bullitt High School Boys Bowling team made their first appearance in the state tournament in February.
Theo Riddle and Kyle Reed advanced to the semi-finals, finishing 3rd in unified. Reed advanced to the quarterfinals, finishing 8th as an individual. The team finished 9th, qualifying for nationals which will be held in Indianapolis this summer.
Team members are Seniors Kyle Reed (Captain), Jacob Harper and Spencer Wilson; Juniors Ashton Bruss, TJ Bloomer and Eric Dezarn; Sophomores Raven Blocker, Garrett Wilkins, Elmi Pilier and Theo Riddle; and Freshmen Ryan Daugherty, Travis Wilson and Ian Bruss.
Bowling Coach Emily Knight said the best bowler on the team is Kyle Reed who averaged a 234 for his senior season and was selected by the Region 3 coaches as the Bowler of the Year.
“Kyle has two career 300 games so far, bowling the first as a junior and the second this year during a match against Southern High School,” she said. “Our best female bowler on the Lady Eagles team is Captain Sarah Hundley. She was ranked throughout the season in the Region 3 top 25 and was selected as the North Bullitt Female Athlete of the Month in November.”
Over the Jan 26th weekend, the boys team enjoyed success in regional tournament action and more state qualifiers.
Knight reported sophomore Garrett Wilkins finished 4th and Senior Kyle Reed finished 2nd in a field comprised of the Top 50 boys in the region, both earning spots in the state tournament as individuals.
“Only four boys from Region 3 qualify for state and two of them are from North Bullitt,” she said. “Sophomore Theo Riddle and his partner athlete, Kyle Reed, won the Region 3 unified bowling tournament and will represent Region 3 in that event at state. There are a total of three post season boys bowling events and the North Bullitt boys are advancing to state in all three. They are truly a special group of boys!!”
Getting to the state championship was a challenge. Knight said the day of the regional tournament, the boys team struggled during the seeding round, falling from a projected 2 seed to the 5 seed.
“Their first match was against 13 seed Whitefield Academy,” she explained. “Each match is a best of 5 series, in which each team puts up a lineup of their 5 best bowlers to bowl 2 frames each for one score against the other team’s best 5. I’m lucky enough to have a 7-man rotation, making us much deeper than most teams we go against.”
The North Bullitt starters are Garrett Wilkins, Raven Blocker, Ryan Daugherty, Spencer Wilson, Eric Dezarn, Jacob Harper and Kyle Reed. The boys defeated Whitefield 3 games to 0.
In the quarterfinals, the boys faced off against 4 seed Desales. “We won the first one, they won the second, and it kept going back and forth,” Knight said. “We had to go to five games to beat them, but edged them out to advance to the semi-finals. The winner of the semi-finals advance to state.”
That set up a showdown with arch-rival Pleasure Ridge Park, a rematch of the previous year’s semi-finals in which PRP won and advanced to state, ending North Bullitt’s season.
“PRP is the dominant force in high school bowling,” Knight remarked. “They have multiple state titles and are our biggest regional rivals. This year’s PRP team was undefeated heading into post-season play and considered a front runner for a state title. Our boys team had finished 2nd to them in every major tournament of the season so we knew we could come close enough to beat them but that it would take our best games.”
Knight described the semi-final atmosphere as electric with both teams having huge fan bases that were cheering loudly on every shot and both teams wielding an insane amount of energy.
“The first game was close,” she said, “but we lost by 6 pins, 227-221. For the second game, our lineup of Garrett Wilkins, Ryan Daugherty, Eric Dezarn, Jacob Harper, and Kyle Reed bowled a 222 to beat their score of a 193. The third game, that same line up beat them 234-181. I knew going in to game four that we needed to win and close it out because I thought they would have a momentum advantage if they were able to push it to a 5th game.”
Knight said the fourth game was close in each frame with PRP having a slight lead. In the 9th frame, senior Jacob Harper made a strike which gave North Bullitt the possibility of taking the lead in the 10th frame.
“Their 10th frame bowler, Clinton Cox, had left the door open by sparing instead of striking in the final frame,” Knight said. “My senior captain Kyle Reed threw two strikes to win the game, securing our spot in the finals and in state.”
Knight said what occurred next symbolizes North Bullitt’s culture.
“Rather than throw the final ball himself, Kyle took himself out and allowed injured teammate, fellow senior Spencer Wilson, to throw the final ball. Spencer got a strike and we beat PRP 194-182,” she said.
Thus became the North Bullitt boys bowling team’s most memorable moment this season.
“The most satisfying victory of this season was definitely beating PRP in the semis of regionals. No matter who we beat to go to state, going to state would have been amazing, but getting to do it by beating our rival made it that much sweeter,” Knight said.
Students interested in joining North Bullitt’s male or female bowling team can begin by signing up at recruiting tables at freshmen orientation night each year in August.
“They can also join at the North Bullitt Showcase night every February that helps to get the word out about the team and encourages students to try out,” Knight said. “But our biggest recruitment tool is our bowlers. They love being on the team and are constantly pulling more people in each year to try out.”
Tryouts are held over two days in late September of each year. Knight said students are not typically cut since North Bullitt has both a varsity and a junior varsity team which allows for students with little to no experience to improve as the season progresses so they can make varsity the following season.
Knight has been the coach of both teams now for six seasons.
“I have coached a lot of great teams. The 2015-2016 team went undefeated in the regular season before losing in regionals,” she remarked. “The 2017-2018 team advanced to the semi-finals of regionals and earned me the Coach of the Year Award.”
She said there is something very special about this group.
“The way they support one another, the way they fight for one another, and push each other to be better has translated into their success on the lanes this year,” Knight said. “I am so proud to be their coach and they can hold their heads high as part of the most successful team in North Bullitt Boys Bowling history.”