Aerika earns High finish at Regionals
By: BRUCE MORGAN Record Express Sports Editor, Staff Writer
Manheim Central senior bowler Aerika High had every right to wonder, ‘What if,’ at the Eastern PA Regionals Singles Championships last Friday in Reading.
Bowling in an opening-round match in the singles bracket finals, High missed back-to-back easy spares late in the competition.
"That’s what killed me," she said. "If I would have made them, I would have beat (Cedar Crest’s Brittany LaBarre). So I wasn’t too happy."
As it was, High finished with a 194, which was just 27 pins behind LaBarre (221), the only one to advance out of the opening-round match foursome into the quarters. Wilson’s Alicia Benner (197) and Penn Manor’s Liz Burkholder (180) also were eliminated, and eventually advanced to the championship match, where she suffered a 201-179 loss to Midd-West’s Jenna Yarger.
High couldn’t help feeling a bit frustrated in the opening-round match, not only about the missed spares, but also at some breaks which didn’t go her way.
"I was hitting straight pocket and leaving pins all over the place and she would go straight through the head pin and everything would fall over, so I guess I was kinda frustrated during that match play," High said.
The bottom line, however, was that High, by placing in the top 12 in the qualifying round, punched her ticket to States, which was her number one goal going into last Friday. Overall, she took eighth in that round with a five-game score of 1025 to advance.
"I was happy overall that I made it," she said. "Now I just want to come out and win two weeks from now."
Warwick’s Brandi Whitmyer (142-200-166-234-183) was 32nd with a score of 925, while Central’s Kelsey Hammons (173-156-158-244-169) finished 42nd with a 900 among the girls.
In the boys division, Warwick’s Zach Adams (239-191-160-227-142) and Nik Sham (207-177-189-182-183) finished 88th and 102nd, respectively with total scores of 959 and 938. Manheim Central’s Ryan Alcala (165-222-145-146-166) ended up in 153rd place with a total score of 844 in the qualifying round.
High began her day with a solid score of 215 in the first of five games, but then dropped to a 187 in her next game. At that point, the Manheim Central senior switched balls and adjusted her strategy in terms of her attacking point on the lane.
"I was just picking up spares, I wasn’t really striking," High said. "Usually I play the outside and I moved to the middle and played the middle. I never like that and I never like to do it, but I had to do something."
The changes paid off in her next two games, with scores of 201 and 236, to get her back into the top mix of bowlers.
"I think I was in, like, 14th place before that (236) game, so I knew I had to have a really good game in order to make it up there," she recalled. "I think it was just more of a mental thing."
High then ended the qualifying round with a 186, giving her a final eighth-place score of 1025, which was 12 pins behind seventh-place finisher Paige Graeff of Wilson. LaBarre grabbed the 12th and final spot with a 990.
"I wasn’t picking up all my spares (in that fifth game), I know I missed a 10 pin in there," High said. "But that’s mainly what the game is — picking up your spares and if you don’t do that, you’re going to have a bad game."
High will be trying to avoid those bad games when she makes her second straight appearance at the State Championships next Friday, March 15 at Dutch Lanes in Ephrata. Last year, she placed seventh at North Versailles Bowl in Pittsburgh.
"Especially with the scores I had last year, I think I should be able to do better than that," High said. "(States are) at my favorite bowling alley, so my goal is to be the champion." More HIGH, page B-4