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Boys bowling: Plenty back for Clearview to help build on last year's success

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With four out of their top six bowlers returning, does Clearview have what it takes to repeat its phenomenal conference and district run from last year? Senior Jacob Ritter believes so.

“Our top five should be as strong as last year,” Ritter said. “I think we can go just as far. The players that are coming back have made very good improvement.”

Ritter returns with the top individual average (193) from last year, joining senior Adam Nichols (192 average), junior Christian Velazquez (186) and senior Brandon Moore (181). Senior Johnny Rehoreg averaged 192 in limited varsity duty.

Gone are Xavier Speckhart (177), Lee Baker (177) and Vincent Fries (165), who all graduated in June.

“We have a lot of bowlers here,” Ritter said. “Last year, we had so many kids coach (Scott) Sloboda tried to have a third team (like a second junior varsity), but we had to scratch that idea and went with eight players per team instead. And we had another great turnout for tryouts this year.”

A year ago, Clearview wasn’t on the radar.

The Clippers finished fourth the past two years at the Medina Division II sectional. Clearview was also fourth the past two seasons in the North Shore Bowling Conference, going 7-8 in 2016-17 and 6-9 in 2015-16.

That’s a lot of fourths, but Clearview got a on a roll last year and didn’t look back.

The Clippers tied Brookside for the NSBC Division 2 title and won the NSBC Division 2 Tournament over Elyria Catholic by a 266-pin margin with a score of 3,739.

Clearview finished third of three district qualifiers at the Medina sectional and was ninth at Boardman in its district tournament debut.

A lot of the Clippers’ success can be attributed to Ritter. He bowled a 525 series at the last year’s conference tournament, followed by a 549 at the sectional tournament and 530 at the district.

“I’ve been bowling since I was in fourth grade,” said Ritter, who is also a talented distance runner in track and cross country. “When you’re not up there bowling, you get to sit back there and talk to your teammates and have a fun time.

“It’s really stress-free. It doesn’t take much time and it’s something not too hard to pick up if you’re just coming out. A lot of players teach each other and we just get better from each other as well as our coach.”

In its eighth season, Clearview’s bowling program is picking up a nice head of steam. The Clearview girls also had a solid season last year, tying Brookside for the NSBC Division 2 conference title while earning their first ticket to the district tourney with a second-place sectional finish. Kelsey Dominguez was the program’s first individual state qualifier.

“Bowling is not only about practicing the strike throw,” Ritter said. “It’s about practicing your spares. It’s always about practice, but it’s also how much you know about the lane. There’s a lot to bowling. It’s not consistent between lanes. You have to know where you’re bowling, what condition the oil pattern is. There’s a lot to it that can change your throw.”

Ritter was also a 2017 Division II district qualifier. He advanced to the Canton district with a second- place finish at the Medina sectional with a 599 series that included a tournament-high game of 267.

“It was so much different going to districts as a team,” he said. “The bus ride, the practices leading up to districts and just having everyone there to support each other made us do a lot better. A lot of it is background. A lot of us have been bowling for so many years. We have a lot of experience. Mr. Dominguez, Kelsey’s dad, has a lot of knowledge. He helps us get it down of where we should be throwing with the lane conditions.”

Ritter is looking primarily at Toledo and Akron for college next year. He plans to major in chemical engineering.

“He’s definitely been a solid bowler throughout his career,” said Sloboda. “He’s a gamer. Every time we get down to the sectional or district and where you see some kid folding under that pressure Jacob is really taking it and running with it. With any sport, Jacob’s just hungry for knowledge, getting himself better. It just transfers from his other sports into bowling. He just loves working on technique, picking people’s brains to get better. He just been a real pleasure over the last four years to have.”

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

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