By John Bombatch
XENIA — With a level of focus his coaches had never seen before, Xenia junior bowler Evan Adkins stunned a lofty field of Ohio’s best high school bowlers last Saturday and won the Division I state bowling championship in record setting fashion.
Adkins set state tournament records for high series (a 296-267-242 — 805 series) and high game (the opening 296) to claim the title. He bettered the previous record high series mark by 96 pins. And the single-game record? It had previously been held by none other than Adkins himself — a 278 game, which he rolled two seasons ago to finish second overall as a freshman.
As they had done at the district tournament two weeks ago, Xenia coaches Robert Rose and Andrew Johnson once again calmed their prize bowler’s nerves by talking about … baseball … between frames. And Adkins said a XHS tradition of enjoying a pre-tournament night out at Dave & Buster’s restaurant also helped.
“I kinda felt bad for beating him at Pop-A-Shot two years ago, so I let Evan beat me this year,” Rose said with a chuckle. “It set his arm strength just right, I think.”
Adkins, a third baseman and pitcher on Xenia’s baseball team, said he just tried to focus on throwing strikes, much like he does when he’s standing atop a pitcher’s mound.
“It’s the exact same thing,” he said. “You just have to take your time and do the exact same thing each time you throw the ball, and be confident in what you’re doing.”
After the solid 296 start where he rolled 11 strikes in a row before pulling the final toss in front of a virtually silent throng of bowlers at Wayne Webb’s Columbus Bowl, Adkins finished with the record-setting 296 score.
His second game began with nine consecutive strikes, but Adkins left the 10 pin on his 10th toss and missed the spare to finish with a 267.
Rose jokingly described Adkins’ third and final game as a “ho hum” 242.
Rose and Adkins said the runner-up performance of Canfield senior Andrew Letscher, who bowled before Adkins each frame, kept the Buccaneer bowler from letting up. Letscher scored higher than Adkins on the final two games, but couldn’t make up a 91-pin deficit after Game 1. He finished with a 205-289-279 — 773 series.
“I’ve gotten a lot of phone calls and texts from people congratulating me, … it feels amazing to have been able to win,” Adkins said, moments after Wednesday’s baseball practice. “
“It hasn’t helped his love life at all, I don’t think,” Rose said.
It is believed that the last time XHS had a high school state champion was 30 years ago. That’s when the 1986 Buccaneers wrestling team returned as class AAA state runners-up, with individual championships won by Monty Dagley (146-pounds) and Laurence Dudgeon (167).
Adkins had plenty of people to thank for his bowling success, starting with his Xenia coaches — Robert Rose and Andrew “A.J.” Johnson.
“I’d also like to thank Austin Graham, Ryan Day, T.J. Oliver, Dorien Morris, Alex Bolka …” Adkins said, mentioning his Xenia Buccaneer teammates who came up to Columbus to cheer him on.
“You know you’re going to get them in trouble for missing school,” his coach reminded Adkins.
“Oops,” the champ said with an ornery smile.
He thanked his parents, Teresa and Eddie Adkins, his grandparents, his Uncle Dave, and Lance White for making the trip as well.
“And none of this would be possible without the assistance of Pat Ryan and Robby Glenn (at Pla-Mor Lanes in Dayton), and Wendy Figer and Doug Wilson (at Beaver-Vu Bowling in Beavercreek) and their staffs,” Adkins added.
Beaver-Vu is also home to the Beavercreek High School bowling team. After the girls won a state title two years ago, and the boys claimed a state team title last year, the Beavercreek girls team finished second in the girls Division I team tournament which was held at Wayne Webb’s this past Sunday.
Team members of the D-I girls state runner-up team are: Raven Cooper, Emily Florkey, Brittany-Ann O’Connell, J’Dee Sandin, Kayle Fernatt, Rachael Knight, Jenna Morgan and Amy Laferty.