Heading into the Suburban League Preseason Tournament, Stow-Munroe Falls boys bowling coach Kevin Gates said he was looking for a top three finish from his young team.

The Bulldogs ended up doing just that.

Stow’s boys finished third with 3,750 pins at the Preseason Tournament Saturday at Stonehedge Lanes in Akron. Nordonia won the boys title with 4,196 pins.

Meanwhile, the Stow girls also took third in the Preseason Tournament with 2,906 pins. Tallmadge won the girls team title with 3,289 points.

Gates was happy with how his team improved throughout the tournament.

"We started out rough, but I’m happy with how we responded to adversity," Gates said. "We actually had the the second best Baker series in the tournament. We came back from a big deficit to get third. I’m really happy with how we did."

Gates said it would have taken a huge effort for his team to catch Nordonia.

"They’re a very experienced team. They’re ready to win now," Gates said. "There was a lot of nerves for us. Once we got going, we did a lot better."

Indeed, the Knights opened with an 876 in game one, which had them sitting in fifth place. However, Nordonia rolled a 928 in game two and a 952 in game three, putting Stow in fourth place with 2,756 pins heading into the Baker games. 

Stow’s 994 Baker game series (226-193-183-171-221) was second only to Nordonia. Stow beat Tallmadge 994-768 in the Baker series, allowing Stow to take third place by 13 pins.

Nordonia most experienced bowlers each finished in the top 10.

Junior Nolan Snowberger led the Bulldogs by taking sixth place with a 668 series (201-223-244), while senior Dylan Kohut was right behind in seventh place with a 657 series (247-222-188).

Stow also got a 511 series from Ethan Dunlap (141-189-180) and a 477 series from Josh Gorbach (138-157-182). Freshman Michael Stein added games of 148 and 158.

"It’s a strong conference," Gates said of the Suburban League. "There’s a lot of strong bowlers. I’m happy with how we did."

Meanwhile, girls coach Nikki Stiteler said she was pleased with her team’s effort, given the amount of new girls she had rolling at varsity. 

"I’m really happy with how they stepped up," Stiteler said. "They all played well. The new girls really did what they could. I think it’s going to be good. We just need a little more instruction in some areas."

Stow was consistent in the No. 3 spot throughout the tournament, as the Bulldogs rolled games of 763, 713 and 749, taking a score of 2222 in the Baker games.

Stow struggled a bit during the Baker games with a score of 681 (145-126-168-117-125), but the Bulldogs still finished well ahead of Barberton in fourth place.

"It was probably a little bit of the nerves, especially with our young girls," Stiteley said. "Spares are going to really help."

In her first tournament as Stow’s No. 1 bowler, senior Natalie Rockwell shined. Rockwell finished second in the girls individual standings with a 603 series (186-163-254), finishing only behind champion Kirsten Moore of Tallmadge (649).

Rockwell’s 254 was the high game of the tournament.

"She stepped up and did what she needed to do," Stiteler said.

Stiteler was also happy to see sophomore Kelsy Jacobson earn a top 10 finish in her first varsity tournament. Jacobson finished ninth with a 507 series (208-171-157). 

However, Stiteler said she’d like to see a bit more from junior Jessica Lawerence, who rolled a 404 series (113-146-146). Alexandria Moran asded a 353 series (127-101-125), while Evelyn Engle added games of 129 and 97. Cass McGee rolled a game of 132 for the Bulldogs.

Stow is set to travel to Columbus for the Ohio High School Kickoff Invitational Saturday at The Bowling Palace at Columbus Square.

The Bulldogs open their dual match schedule Monday at Charger Lanes vs. Barberton at 4 p.m. 

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