SMYRNA - Saturday’s second frame may forever haunt the Pope John Paul II Knights men’s bowling team.
Bowling for the Division II State Championship at Smyrna Bowling Center, JPII looked poised to polish off their undefeated season with their first gold trophy since 2008.
Unfortunately, winning the state title was not in the cards for the Knights (14-1), as they dropped a heartbreaker 16-11 to St. Benedict (10-0).
The difference of 52 pins between the two schools showed JPII and St. Benedict were the most deserving two teams and showed where the Knights need to improve.
"Even more spare practice," JPII head coach Martin Strobel said. "They hate playing low ball and frame game, but that is what gets you this far and wins you state championships. That is what St. Benedict did today; they cleaned up their mistakes and didn't leave any pins out there."
St. Benedict’s score of 3,243 was the highest any team shot during the state title, with Knights shooting the tournament’s second-highest pin total (3,191).
“Sometimes it is just like that and you run into a buzzsaw,” JPII coach Martin Strobel said. “I told my guys afterward they should not feel upset about losing today. They left it all out on the lanes. I could never complain about what they did this year — even in defeat, I’m so proud. This is one of the best teams in school history. This team's legacy is they outworked everyone."
Following a 14-0 season, JPII navigated the first two rounds of the tournament beating Clarksville Academy (21.5-5.5) and Notre Dame (19-8) to set up the Knights’ fourth consecutive state tournament matchup with the Eagles.
“I didn’t have a great second game; as you can see, it can turn very quickly,” senior Matthew Mesecher said. “We didn’t have a ton of energy that second game; we tried to make a comeback, but it just wasn’t enough.”
Added Mesecher on his four years at JPII: “To win the individual state title my junior year was incredible, then to have the opportunity to win a state team title for the first time since 2008 was remarkable. It’s been a fun four years.”
Kehan Patel started bowling for the Knights his sophomore season and says the team's last three years have gotten better and better with each season.
“We ended this year on a really strong note,” he said. “There is a lot of joy when I think about this year. We were looking forward to winning the championship, but we finished second against a strong team, and I know we did our best, so I am happy knowing that. It’s really sad that it is over, but it was a lot of fun while it lasted.”
JPII Scores by Games 1-3
Nicholas Herzer 194, 179, 203
Matthew Mesecher 258, 165, 183
Conor Kennard 137, 145, 98
Kehan Patel 185, 195, 223
Finn Donnelly 162, 212, 168
Zane Collins 146, 158, 180
St. Benedict Scores by Games 1-3
Colin Zazzara 146, 188, 127
Mason McHughes 211, 213, 182
Riley Martin 188, 205, 165
Geno Siano 200, 146, 217
Adam Fillion 173, 205, 178
Matthew Durden 164, 179, 156