When the dust settled at Wayne Webb's Columbus Bowl March 4, Woodridge boys bowling found itself back in the same spot it finished last year.

There's nothing wrong with that.

Woodridge took fourth place at the Division II state tournament for the second straight year, as the Bulldogs reached the semifinal match in the team finals before falling to eventual champion St. Mary's Memorial.

Bulldogs coach Keith Shovestull had nothing but compliments for his team in Columbus.

"I'm very proud of the boys and the way they competed down at states," Shovestull said. "We were in 10th place heading into the Baker games and we battled all the way back to fourth. I couldn't ask for anything more from these kids."

The Bulldogs did not have their best day in the team qualifying tournament, particularly during the 10-frame games.

After opening with a 989 in game one, Woodridge went downhill, rolling an 890 in game two and an 851 in game three.

Woodridge's three-game total of 2,730 pins had them sitting in 10th place, 44 pins behind Elmore Woodmore for the final spot to qualify for the team finals.

"During the regular games, the shot was difficult," Shovetstull said. "You switch lanes every game. We were having a tough time finding our shot."

Needing a big effort in the three Baker games, Woodridge opened with a 214, followed by a 192 in the second Baker game and a 173 in the third.

It turned out Woodridge's final score of 3,309 was good enough to edge Woodmore for eighth place -- by three pins.

Woodridge was led by junior Austin Fleming, who rolled a 611 series (227-206-178) to finish 21st in the individual race. He was the lone Bulldog to roll all three games.

"Austin bowled well all day," Shovestull said. "He was just 15 pins away from earning All-Ohio honors [in 15th place]."

Freshman Bryce Oliver rolled games of 215 and 194, while sophomore Kyle Schnieder had games of 210 and 169.

Junior Zane Patterson rolled games of 189 and 159, while junior Logan Leipold rolled a 215 and 171. Senior Alex Fuller added a game of 148.

"A couple of the guys were struggling in the second game," Shovestull said. "We wanted to put the ball in someone else's hands. We made some substitutions."

Shovestull knew his team was facing a huge challenge to open the elimination round, as it faced off with Coldwater, which won the qualifying round with a score of 3,619. The Cavaliers were the defending state runner-up and had won three previous state titles.

However, in a best-of-five Baker game series, the Bulldogs did not back down. Woodridge won the opening game 189-183 and then traded the next four games with Coldwater. Woodridge lost game two 172-143, won game three 215-197 and lost game four 206-176.

Woodridge saved its best game for last against the Cavaliers, beating Coldwater 233-202 in the decisive game five.

"It was kind of a back and forth," Shovestull said. "Luckily, we got the third win. When we went into the bracket round, we were on a fresh shot again. We found our line quicker than they did."

In the semifinal vs. St. Mary's Memorial, Woodridge rolled well in the first two games, winning game one 208-199 and losing game two 212-200. The Bulldogs lost their stroke in games three and four, however, losing game three 179-147 and game four 223-125.

"We were right there," Shovestull said. "In that third game, it fell apart for us. I guess we ran out of steam in that semifinal round."

St. Mary's Memorial went to defeat Hillsboro in three games in the title match. Woodridge was given fourth place, as third-place Struthers took Hillsboro to five games in its semifinal match.

Woodridge will return the bulk of its team next season, as only Fuller will graduate this spring.

"The first match of next season is what I'm shooting for." Shovestull said. "Deep down though, it would be great to get back there [to states] next year."

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