The growth and improvement of the Hoban girls bowling program over the past four years have been undeniable.
Last weekend, that growth was on display as two Hoban seniors competed in the state bowling tournament at Wayne Webb’s Columbus Bowl. Senior Katlyn Struckel finished 51st with a three-game score of 499 and senior Carly Jones earned Honorable Mention All-Ohio honors with a score of 610, good enough for a 13th-place finish out of 105 competitors in Division I.
The performance is even more impressive when considering Jones and Struckel didn’t start bowling competitively until their sophomore year. This season marked the fourth consecutive year the Knights have gone undefeated in matches during the regular season. Doing well in postseason tournaments, however, was always a goal for Jones and her teammates.
“We started placing well in tournaments last year and we made it to districts,” Jones said. “We realized we had a shot to make it past districts this year. We had a lot of seniors coming back and that was our goal. Unfortunately, we missed the cut for State as a team, but the team support allowed me and Kaitlyn to get to state as individuals.”
Jones ends her high school career as one of the most accomplished bowlers in school history. She owns school records for both single-game and two-game series. She will continue her bowling career while attending Notre Dame College next school year.
“The last couple of years I’ve been putting in a lot of hard work on my own and getting good coaching from my high school coaches,” Jones said. “Midway through last year, I saw my game really improve and started to realize that bowling in college was something that could happen.”
Hoban girls bowling coach Jim Bowling has been impressed with Jones’s maturity and work ethic.
“She has always taken to coaching very well and she works really hard,” Bowling said. “She is a fierce competitor and a great teammate. She’s really just a great young lady. Between school, sports and working, I don’t think she sleeps very much.”
Struckel will attend Ohio State University and plans to bowl on the Buckeyes’ club team. She also credited Jones with helping her achieve tremendous growth in a short period of time.
“I didn’t start on varsity until sectionals last year,” she said. “I worked hard all summer and didn’t take a week off. Carly and I always have a healthy competition and feed off each other really well. We’re on the same lanes in tournaments, which helps. I always aim to be where Carly is.”
Struckel called the experience of bowling at the state tournament “crazy”—the amount of spectators and college coaches in attendance is unlike any other tournament.
“It was the first time I’ve ever had a security escort to my bowling lane,” Struckel said. “But it was cool to bowl with the best in the state. When you qualify as an individual, you really have to just focus on your own game because you don’t have your teammates next to you.”
“We bowl in 7-10 tournaments every year to help prepare them for that experience,” Bowling said of the state tournament atmosphere. “You could tell they weren’t intimidated because they both started off well and didn’t have any nerves in their first game. They just really enjoyed the whole experience.”
Jones agreed it was a perfect way to cap her high school career.
“The state recognizes the top 15 (for All-Ohio), so that was my goal going into it,” she said. “I achieved that and I bowled over my average. I would love to have finished higher, but I can’t be mad. It was a great experience overall.”