Erickson takes silver at State bowling

By on March 22, 2017
Warwick was represented at the State Boys Singles Championships last Friday by (left) senior Ben White, who finished sixth, and sophomore Isaac Erickson (right), who won the silver medal. Photo by Bruce Morgan

Warwick was represented at the State Boys Singles Championships last Friday by (left) senior Ben White, who finished sixth, and sophomore Isaac Erickson (right), who won the silver medal. Photo by Bruce Morgan

Even as Isaac Erickson was getting a slow start last Friday in the PA State championship bowling match, he remained calm and collected.

“I don’t get nervous, usually,” the Warwick sophomore bowler said.

That poised demeanor contributed to Erickson eventually getting on track against Moon Area’s Jon Kleer.

But he couldn’t quite overtake the Tigers’ senior and finished with the silver medal after suffering a 279-216 loss to Kleer at Dutch Lanes in Ephrata.

“Crazy, kinda hard to believe, still,” Erickson said. “I threw good shots. I just didn’t get some breaks. But (Kleer) definitely beat me that match.”

The championship match featured the top two-seeded bowlers from the qualifying round, where No. 1 Kleer rolled a 1,386 in six games, followed closely by No. 2 Erickson with a 1,371.

Warwick coach Neal Vital added, “Isaac knows his game so well and knows what adjustments to make that I don’t think he thinks about (nerves). He just knows what he has to do and he made good shots. He had a couple bad breaks and (Kleer) bowled just a little better.”

Warwick senior Ben White rolled some good shots as well in the six-game qualifying round, but fell only three pins shy of advancing to the stepladder finals. His score of 1,288 was just shy of Conrad Weiser’s Daniel Althouse (1,291), who claimed the fifth and final spot.

“Three pins … and I brought that up to him before we started,” Vital recalled. “I said, ‘Make sure that you pay attention to every single shot because Isaac got into the Regional finals two weeks ago just two pins.’ I said, ‘Don’t give a shot away that might cost you,’ and Ben didn’t give any away, but it goes to show you how close it is. Three pins from at least a possibility of going up the ladder to win it all.”

The field of bowlers in the State Boys Singles Championships consisted of 24 keglers — 12 apiece from the PA Eastern and Western Regionals.

Erickson and White, of course, punched their ticket while bowling off for the Regional title on March 3.

“It was a total blast to coach these guys this year,” Vital said.

Not only did Erickson win the Eastern Regional crown, but he gained a lot of confidence heading into States.

“I felt really good,” Erickson said. “I was making good shots, my mental game was really strong … The goal was to bowl here, anything after that was a bonus, so bowling well here was good.”

Bowl well, he certainly did. In fact, his 228 after the first game of the qualifying round had him tied for third Hopewell’s Collin Whiteman. That was just the tip of the iceberg compared to his game-two score of 288, which bumped him into the top spot at the time.

“That definitely got me looser, less pressure to make the finals,” Erickson said. “You always want to put yourself in position to move on and that’s what I did.”

Next, Erickson rolled a 236, then a 208, and after posting a score of 186 in game five, he bounced back with a 225 to clinch a berth in the stepladder finals, finishing 53 pins ahead of third-seeded Antonio Reyes (1,318), of Exeter.

“Proud coach, for sure,” Vital said. “Isaac is a student of the game and he knows how to make the adjustments on a six-game qualifier, and then having to make adjustments during the finals, he does it better than anybody.”

Although Erickson had the benefit of competing on his home turf at Dutch Lanes, the oil patterns were not the same as usual. Instead of competing on a house pattern, the bowlers found themselves rolling on a more challenging tournament pattern.

“It just gives you less room for error,” Vital said. “It kinda evens things out, so it doesn’t give the home kids an advantage.”

Kleer, who had a bye into the championship match, had the advantage early on, as Erickson, a 213-180 winner over Althouse in the semi-finals, missed in his first frame, then spared in the second.

Erickson adapted and started to collect some strikes — seven in all — but Kleer had built a lead and never looked back, ultimately sealing a 63-pin victory.

“I’m a little disappointed I didn’t win,” Erickson said, “but at the same time, I have two more years to come back and win it.”

Part of Vital’s pre-match meeting with Erickson and White was spent making sure that both bowlers knew they were good enough to win the crown.

“They’re good enough,” Vital said, “there was no question.”

“Kleer, though, was just a little bit better on this day.”

“(Kleer) got on a roll and (Isaac) didn’t quite get in a position to put enough pressure on him down the stretch to really force his hand,” Vital said. “That is so key in a match like that … Anybody watching knows (Kleer)’s got a quality game. (Isaac) didn’t lose to somebody who just happened to have a good day. He lost to a really good bowler.”

White is a really good bowler in his own right, as evidenced by the 224 and 229 in his first two qualifying games, then a 258 in the sixth.

“I felt pretty solid with how I bowled,” White said. “My first two games were almost equal, they were about four pins apart, and then I dropped into the 190’s for the next three games and then finished out with a big 258. So overall, it was a pretty solid day.”

White had numerous solid days in his brilliant Warwick career. He won the L-L League and District Three titles as a sophomore. He placed at the L-Ls, Districts, and Eastern PA Regionals, in addition to throwing the second of his two 300 games as a Warrior this season. And of course, he was a two-time State Singles qualifier, while also helping Warwick qualify for States as a team in 2016.

“I would say it was a dream,” White said of his career. “It definitely felt like a dream with all the things I managed to accomplish.”

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