Wapakoneta rallies in finals to win state

The Wapakoneta Redskins rallied in the finals to win the Division I boys bowling state title Friday, becoming the first team in Wapakoneta High School history to capture a state championship.

In the finals, with a state title on the line, Wapakoneta and Olmsted Falls each had their lowest score of the entire state tournament Friday.

The Redskins’ tournament low came in a loss in the first game of a best-of-five Baker match but they rebounded to win three straight games. Olmsted Falls’ low for the day (126) came in the deciding fourth game, while Wapak rolled a 169 to seal the state title at Wayne Webb’s Columbus Bowl in Columbus.

“We’re a resilient team,” Redskins senior Austin Krites said. “We rally around each other and feed off each other. We knew if one person got hot, we’d rally around that. We figured we could string them together, and that’s how we won.”

A pair of Wapak bowlers earned All-Ohio honors for their performances Friday in the Division I state tournament.

Wapakoneta senior Chandler Kaeck became a second-team All-Ohioan after placing eighth overall Friday after a 649 series, with games of 200, 183 and 266.

Kaeck’s third game score of 266 tied for the second-highest in a single game among all Division I bowlers Friday and was one pin shy of tying his top score for the entire season.

Redskins freshman Blake Knueve received honorable mention All-Ohio. Knueve recorded a 629 series including games of 223, 221 and 185 to finish 12th overall.

Knueve’s first two games Friday were his two best scores of the entire season and his average of 209.7 was a season-high.

Redskins junior Nate Kaeck contributed games of 167, 192 and 222 for a 581 series Friday.

Krites, a district champion last Saturday, had games of 210, 142 and 216 for a 568 series Friday.

Redskins sophomore Trevor Copeland bowled the last two games of the qualifying round, recording scores 178 and 182.

Wapak, in order to claim its state title Friday, qualified for and then won the championship round.

Teams among the original 16 state qualifiers with a top-eight cumulative score in the qualifying round advanced to the championship round.

The qualifying round consisted of three individual games and three Baker matches.

The Redskins were the third seed for the championship round, which was a single-elimination playoff consisting of best-of-five Baker matches.

Wapak won all three of its playoff matches three games to one.

In their first match of the championship round, against Kettering Fairmont, the Redskins started with a 2-0 lead, lost the third game by seven pins, 195-188, and rebounded with a win to reach the semifinals.

In the semifinals, Wapak got better as the match progressed, while second-seed Brunswick was consistent.

The Redskins lost a tight opening game, 180-171, before they cruised to three straight wins, with scores of 193, 221 and 238. Brunswick had scores of 180, 175 and 188 in those three losses to Wapak.

The Redskins posted a 154 against Olmsted Falls’ 175 to lose the first game of the finals.

Wapak rebounded with a 182-169 win to even the match at 1-1.

The Redskins notched a narrow win in the third game, 175-171, before clinching the state title in the fourth game.

“It was a tough spot to win,” Redskins coach Jim Kaeck said. “It was pretty tough but we came back and won three in a row.”

Chandler Kaeck described his thoughts after the Redskins lost the first game of the finals.

“I wasn’t really thinking anything different,” he said. “I had confidence in everybody to come back, make our strikes and make our spares and put up bigger scores than them.”

The state title concluded a season of championships for the Redskins.

They first won the Kick-off Classic to start the season and followed with sectional, district and state titles in the postseason.

“It was a great day for Wapak sports,” Jim Kaeck said. “It’s just awesome. It was a team effort.”