For the Stow-Munroe Falls girls bowling team, the Division I district tournament Feb. 23 at Roseland Lanes in Oakwood ended in familiar fashion: The Bulldogs took home the title. 

This time, however, Stow had to rally in order to win.

A huge Baker game series allowed Stow to erase a 137-pin deficit, as the Bulldogs won the district title with 3,584 pins, finishing just six pins ahead of runner-up Norton.

On Feb. 24 at Roseland Lanes, however, it was case of "so close, yet so far" for the Bulldog boys team. Stow finished seventh in the Division I boys tournament with 3,690 pins, finishing just 36 pins behind Berea-Midpark for the fifth and final state qualifying spot.

There was one consolation for the Stow boys: Senior Alex Ridings was able to roll his way back to Columbus as an individual.

For one of the few times this season, Stow’s girls did not dominate the field in the individual games. Stow rolled games of 832 in game one, 829 in game two and 840 in game three, giving them a score of 2,501, which put them in third place, trailing both Norton and Perry.

The Bulldogs responded, however, with the best Baker series of the tournament. Stow rolled games of 189, 196, 169, 143, 192  and 194 in the Bakers.

Stow had closed the gap on Norton to just three pins in the final Baker game and then edged the Panthers 194-185 in the final game to take the title.

Freshman Jillian Martin led the Bulldogs with a 613 series (190-238-179), which was good for third place. Norton’s Colleen Lehner won the individual title with a 646 series.

However, Stow only one other bowler break the top 20, as senior Hayley Roberts finished 20th with a 520 series (166-150-204).

Stow also got a 458 series from sophomore Jessica Lawerence (151-129-178), while senior Taylor Robers rolled a 453 series (165-159-129). Junior Natalie Rockwell added games of 153 and 150 for Stow. 

The Division I girls state tournament will take place March 8 at Wayne Webb’s Columbus Bowl. Qualifying rounds begin at 10:30 a.m. After finishing 12th in the state last year, Stow will be looking to replicated their form of 2017, which saw them win the state title.

After seeing their female counterparts win, the Stow boys hoped to join them at the states and Bulldogs were right in the thick it at Roseland.

In the individual games, Stow rolled games of 862, 848 and 896. The score of 2,606 pins had them sitting in 11th place, but the distance between the Bulldogs and second place Mentor was only 77 pins. 

With so many teams vying for the top five spot, Stow put up a solid Baker series of 1,084 pins (209-147-165-158-177-228). While the Bulldogs moved up four spots in the Baker games, it was not enough, as Berea-Midpark finished with 3,726 pins to snag the final state spot. 

Lakewood St. Edward edged Stow for sixth place by 13 pins (3,713). Olmsted Falls won the tournament with relative ease with 4,079 pins, as they were the only squad to break 4,000.

After finishing as the Suburban League bowler of the year last winter, Ridings had an up-and-down senior season. However, he found his form Sunday, as he rolled a 625 series (198-216-211) to finish fifth overall and snag the fourth individual qualifying spot for states. 

Ridings finished just four pins behind North Ridgeville’s Dylan Mishak in third place. Olmsted Falls Jerrod Green dominated the boys individual tournament, winning with a 728 series, which was 70 pins ahead of runner-up Kaleb East of Twinsburg.

Stow needed Ridings’ big numbers, as senior Will Bender was the only other Bulldog who bowled well enough to complete a series. Bender rolled a 506 (199-156-161).

Bulldogs coach John Martin substituted liberally in the tournament. Senior Zach Dunham put up games of 180 and 160, while sophomore Josh Gorbach put up a 204 in game three.

Ridings will head to the Division I boys tournament March 9 at Wayne Webb’s Columbus Bowl. The individual tournament begins at 10:30 a.m.

Reporter Michael Leonard can be reached at 330-541-9442, mleonard@recordpub.com or @MLeonard_RPC