Five teams prepare for bowling finals

Five teams will represent Union County on Friday for the bowling state championships in Jackson. After regionals two weeks ago, the teams have prepared for the final match of the season, and each has its eye on bringing another state championship to the county.
East Union enters as the top seed for both the boys and girls, and for the teams, practice was as usual in preparation for state.
“I try to keep it low key, because you don’t want them to be too nervous,” East Union coach Brad Browning said. “We have five teams from the county going, and that’s great. As far as practicing, we’ve been concentrating on not leaving any pins. We’re not professionals, so we’re not going to get a strike every time, but work on getting a spare. The teams that can do that are the successful ones.”
Browning has several on both sides he will look to for leadership, including a group of seniors on the boys’ side.
“The boys, I have about eight boys that I can put in a sack, shake them up and put any five of them out there,” he said.
“I have four seniors that have been with me for quite awhile now. Josh Steele is probably my best bowler, and he has tournament experience, and he already has one championship ring. He’s been there and know how it works. Bailey Spruill is a sophomore, and this is his third year to start. He’s very steady and doesn’t let anything get to him, and you have to have someone like that on your team.”
Browning mentioned Stephanie Hardy and Laken Hughes specifically on the girls’ side, and emphasized keeping the nerves down on his team, as the excitement of the championships has built throughout the week.
“I’ve had teams before that got so excited about that, and they wore themselves out before we competed,” he said.
West Union also has both boys and girls teams competing, and for the Eagles, they hope to overcome a close finish against East Union. The Eagles led at regionals heading into the bakers format, eventually taking second to the Urchins.
“We’re not trying to change anything that we’re doing, because what we’ve been doing is working,” West Union coach Barbara White said.
The Lady Eagles enter as a wild card selection, and both teams hope to redeem themselves after finishing outside of the top two for the first time last season.
“On our girls, I have two that I really need to count on, Callie Baggett and Lauren Brewer. Those are the two I’m hoping who can come through for us,” White explained.
“As far as the boys, we never know who will step up. We have Kurt Stevens, Ryan Hearn and we have a new bowler, Austin Harris, who has done a really good job for us. Also, we have Chandler Baggett returning after breaking his foot earlier this season.
West Union practiced on Tuesday, working with the newest county program at New Albany. The Bulldogs will make its inaugural appearance at state, and are confident they can make an impact in the finals.
“We’re doing good right now,” New Albany coach Wayne Dye said. “We’re out here right now, just bowling and practicing when they want to. They’re excited about going, and they’ll be nervous since it’s our first time.”
While there are several talented bowlers on his team, Dye said that no one in particular stands out, and that he needs all of them to pick up spares in order for the Bulldogs to be successful.
“All of them have to pick up spares. That was our weakness at regionals,” he explained. “They’re all about equal, and no one bowler sticks out above the rest. We just need to pick up spares.”
The state championships begin at 9 a.m. on Friday at Paradise Lanes in Jackson.