Biondo leads Woodridge boys bowling at state tournament

Steve Batko
Angelo Biondo, Woodridge

No stranger to the bright lights of the coveted state championships, Angelo Biondo is part of the reason why the Woodridge boys bowling program always seems to have a full calendar during the late winter season.

Vacation plans need to wait until spring for the Woodridge bowling community as the Bulldogs have had a serious string of deep post season runs.

Biondo and his Bulldog teammates competed at the 15th annual Division II State Championships at Wayne Webb’s Columbus Bowl Feb. 27 in Columbus/.

Woodridge was one of only sixteen clubs with a Division II team berth for the state championships.

Head coach Keith Shovestull has helped guide the Woodridge boys’ program to states in five out of the last six years.

In the process, Biondo finished as an Ohio runner-up, placing second overall out of 104 bowlers.

Shovestull credited the talented Biondo and his teammates for the recent surge and this year’s eight-place team finish against a loaded field of teams and individuals.

“The team has qualified for state five out of the last six years and overall, the team performed fairly well at states,” Shovestull said.

Joining Biondo at states for Woodridge this year were seniors Chad Schoolcraft, Aidan Jewell and Trentin Tate, plus junior standouts Connor Jewell and Collin Bragg.

“Angelo, Chad and Aidan have been to the state tournament three times,” said Shovestull. “Trentin and Connor have been there twice. This was the first trip for Collin.”

Biondo earned state runner-up honors by rolling a three-game series of 676.

Only Tyler Gehret, a senior from Versailles, finished higher as he had a 684 series (204-267-213). Mechanicsburg junior Peyton Lesson was third at 674.

In the process, Biondo was named first-team All-Ohio.

“This was the best showing for an individual bowler from Woodridge,” said Shovestull.

“As usual, Angelo was able to bowl extremely well among some of the best high school bowlers in the state,” he added. “He rolled a 192 in his first game and then improved to a 216 in his second game. His high game was his third game when he rolled a 268.”

“Angelo knows his game and was able to make ball changes and moves on the lane to improve on his previous score each game. This is the second time Angelo has been first-team All-Ohio. He has a fourth-place finish and now a second-place finish in the state tournament as an individual.”

The 268 in game three was crucial for Biondo as it was the third highest game in Division II individually for the state tourney.

“What made his third game so special is that he needed a big game to move himself up the individual ranking,” declared Shovestull. “Even with the pressure of knowing he had to put up a big score, he was still able to go out there and perform at a very high level.”

In other words – Biondo answered the call.

Holding several school marks, including a perfect 300 game, Biondo also has an accomplishment of earning a spot on the Jr. Team USA.

Having a high bar for his performance, Biondo wasn’t thrilled with his performance early on at states, but was excited about the finish.

“I didn’t bowl up to expectations at states,” Biondo stated. “I struggled the first game and then started to figure out the lanes the second game.”

“I had made a ball change in the 10th frame of the second game which gave me a chance to make All Ohio,” explained Biondo. “I knew I was going to have to make every shot count at this point. With the ball change, I gave myself more room to miss, which is what I needed. I finished with a 268 game, which bumped me up to finish second.”

Biondo will be attending Wright State University next year and continue his bowling career at the collegiate level.

From a team standpoint at states, the format for the tournament features three 10-pin games and then three baker games for the qualifying round.

Following the qualifying round, the field was cut to the top eight teams based on total pin fall. The top eight clubs are then placed into a match play championship bracket based on where you placed during qualifying.

Woodridge scored an 854 in the first game which put them in 10th-place and the second game score was 883, which had the team still at 10th overall.

The third game was the Bulldogs’ finest when the team shot a 951 moving them up to seventh place.

“Our first game was lower than we had expected it would be (854), but we made some adjustments that increased our scores the second and third games,” explained the coach.

During the baker games, Woodridge scored a 141, 160 and a much needed 220 game that vaulted the Bulldogs into eighth place after qualifying.

“Our first baker game was low (141) and then we improved to a 160 the second game, and we knew we needed to improve on our first two games if we wanted any chance of advancing to the championship bracket,” said Shovestull.

“The boys pulled it together and rolled a 220 the third baker game which boosted us into the top eight.”

In the first match of the championship round, the Bulldogs were matched up with the top seed, Versailles.

“Unfortunately, we were not able to hold down the number one seed in the bracket as Versailles beat us three games to one,” said the coach.

In a best of five baker match, the Bulldogs fell to Versailles 3-1. The scores were 248-198, 203-116, 179-205, and 186-174.

As in most cases, the Bulldogs had to battle to find their comfortable line on the lanes at Columbus Bowl.

Woodridge got great support from Schoolcraft, who scored to the tune of placing 21st overall.

Schoolcraft registered a 598 series with games of 188, 196, and an impressive 214 in game three.

Connor Jewell finished 51st overall in Ohio! He had a 516 series with games of 192, 140, and 184.

Tate is another senior who will be sorely missed by Woodridge. He placed 65th in Ohio as he rolled games of 168, 171, and 151 for a 490 series.

“All of these bowlers, except for one, have state bowling tournament experience,” said Shovestull, “However, when you are one of the top sixteen teams in the state bowling for a state championship, there are always going to be nerves.”

“The larger adjustment was on the lanes,” added the mentor. “Trying to bowl on a shot that we had not seen all year. The lane conditions were difficult and the kids had to work hard to find a good line and make good shots.”

Competing in his first-ever state tourney, Bragg gained valuable experience and had a 160 and 134.

Shovestull will also miss the services of Aidan Jewell, a senior, who added a 114 game in Columbus.

“I think having so many supportive teammates are what made my career so special because they kept pushing me, which helped me push them,” noted Biondo.

Woodridge capped a superb winter despite all the adversity through COVID-19.

The Bulldogs were crowned Metro Athletic Conference champions and also snagged sectional and district championship honors, which isn’t easy.

As for state tourney history, Woodridge now has three fourth-place Ohio finishes, a fifth-place, and an eight-place effort.