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High School Sports

High school bowling: Elyria Catholic's Paige Sexstella making most of her return to the lanes

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    Elyria Catholic's Paige Sexstella is gearing up for the district tournament after also making districts in golf in the fall.

    STEVE MANHEIM / CHRONICLE

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Elyria Catholic senior Paige Sexstella was in a bit of a quandary. After playing softball for eight years, she decided she’d had enough and hung it up after her freshman year.

Though she picked up golf with good success, she had some time to kill in the winter months. Her dad, Eric, prodded her to give bowling another shot.

Initially, she was a bit reluctant.

Sexstella had bowled at a league level at Rebman Rec a couple of times when she was younger, but it was just for fun, nothing too serious.

But she decided to take her dad’s advice as a junior and joined the EC bowling team. It’s been a fun ride ever since.

Sexstella bowled primarily on the boys team this season since EC doesn’t have enough players for a full girls squad. She held her own, posting a 176 game average (up from 161 last year) during the regular season which was good enough for third on the team behind senior Tyler Walker (206) and junior Anthony Mishak (190).

Her days of making tough decisions weren’t over yet, however. Now she had to decide whether to stick with the boys team in the postseason or go it alone against the girls like she did last year. Making it even tougher was the fact the boys team was coming off a resounding 209-pin win at the North Shore Bowling Conference tournament.

But after consulting with her dad, Eric, who is also the Panthers’ bowling and girls golf coach, she decided to give the girls tournament another shot.

It paid off big.

Sexstella won last Sunday’s Medina Division II sectional by 13 pins with a 528 series, hitting her 176 game average right on the head.

“The team was confident, the coaches were confident in her,” Eric Sexstella said. “We know what her ability is.”

For Paige, it was all about finding her rhythm since her turn came up a lot quicker than it does in team matches.

“Tournament manager Kevin Minnich reminded me at the practice round the day before to keep within myself, pace myself, since it was only going to be me,” Paige said. “I knew I needed to take my time on every shot. That’s what I tried to do.”

Sexstella opened with a 164 then had a 184 and a 180 to win the title.

“It’s really tough to stand there by yourself shifting between a lane back and forth while you have teams bowling and fans cheering,” Eric said. “Her only cheering section was her coaches. She’s good under pressure. Golf does that for you.”

A Division II district qualifier last year in golf, Paige holds the school record for nine holes with a 36.

The sectional win was no doubt a shock for Paige, but she’s tried to stay grounded. With the district tournament at Buckeye Lanes on Sunday, there’s not a lot of prep time before the Northeast district’s best Division II bowlers.

But both are confident she’ll be ready. After all, she’s a fast learner.

“I just started learning a hook last year,” Paige said. “That was my first year learning it.”

Contact Paul Heyse at (440) 329-7135 or ctsports@chroniclet.com.
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