High captures State bronze
By: BRUCE MORGAN Record Express Sports Editor, Staff Writer
The noisier, the better.
That’s the mindset of Aerika High when she is competing on the bowling lanes.
So last Friday, as she reached the step-ladder finals in the Pennsylvania State High School Girls Championships, the Manheim Central senior was absolutely hating the silence which engulfed Dutch Lanes in Akron.
"During the first six games (in the qualifying round), all the lanes are on and you can’t hear anything," High said. "Then during the step-ladders, there’s only your lane on and the guys’ lane on and you don’t hear a sound coming from anyone … I sat down and my legs were shaking back and forth, so I turned to my coach and said, ‘I can’t sit down, I’m too nervous.’ I had to stand up the entire time."
She channeled that nervousness to defeat Seneca Valley’s Sara Ahlgren 205-160 in her opening-round match and then went on to knock off Norwin’s Taylor Trump 229-197 in the quarter-final round.
That propelled High into the State semi-finals against Victoria Smith, of Gateway. Unfortunately for the Central star, however, she fell just one win short of the finals, dropping a 197-181 loss and taking home the State bronze. Smith went on to lose 234-187 to Hempfield’s top-seeded Justyne Falbo.
"Everyone has their disappointing moments," High said. "I definitely thought I could have beat (Smith) in the semi-finals. I ended up leaving the 7/10 split, so that doesn’t help you out very much. That kinda just made me mad. I felt pretty good about the way I was bowling."
As a junior, High placed seventh in the qualifying round at the State Championships. Only the top five advanced to the step-ladder finals, so she missed it by just two spots.
Bowling at Dutch Lanes this year certainly didn’t hurt her in advancing to the step-ladder finals for the first time.
"I was confident going in there knowing it was my favorite bowling alley and I could do well," High said, "so I think it definitely helped in my favor for that."
Last Saturday, after the disappointment of losing in the semi-finals evaporated, she was able to appreciate her State bronze medal a little bit more.
"I feel disappointed about (losing), but at the same time, it’s just a huge accomplishment to even get third," she said. "So I let that sink in after awhile."
It was a huge accomplishment for High to place fourth in the qualifying round on Friday with a six-game score of 1196. That was eight pins ahead of fifth-place Ahlgren and 66 behind third-place Trump. Falbo and Smith finished 1-2 with 1284 and 1272, respectively.
High was in third place through her first four games with scores of 197-178-199-214. Falbo was second at that same point, but High responded in the fifth game with a 224, winning by five pins over Falbo (219), who was bowling on the same lane.
"I was just trying to beat (Falbo) and she had like, five or six strikes in a row," High said. "And I wasn’t striking consecutively."
Eventually, though, Falbo began to leave a few open frames, and High struck out from the eighth frame on, lifting her to the fifth-game win.
"I knew she was my competition," High said, "so it was very competitive."
High dipped to a 184 in her sixth and final game, but it was good enough to punch her ticket to the step-ladder finals.
"I was pleased about the games that were in the 200’s, but the whole way through, I knew I was in it, so I really couldn’t be disappointed," she said. "It was more just keeping my head in it, not thinking, ‘I’m going to make it in the top five," get to my head. I did that every other year and I totally tanked then. I put too much pressure on myself."
Using the same ball that she threw in her six qualifying games, High won her first two matches in the qualifying round by an average of 38.5 pins. Then in the semi-finals, leaving that 7/10 split in the fifth game proved to be one that she would have liked back in her match against Smith.
"Nothing was carrying for me that game and (Smith) was carrying everything," High said. "I think I could have definitely beat her, so I’m a little disappointed."
With her scholastic bowling career behind her now, High, softball recruit at Wagner University is looking forward to her senior season on the diamond.
"I’ve been standing outside for the first two weeks (of pre-season practice) not being able to do anything," she said, "so I just really wanted to get into the softball season." More HIGH, page B-2