Rangers on a roll

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By Linda Dillman
Staff Writer

Photo courtesy of Vince Payne and Hamilton Local Schools
Hamilton Township Ranger varsity bowler Emma Peruzzi, who is a senior and team captain, gets set to knock down some pins.

Despite being recognized as a competitive high school sport as far back as the 1950s, it has taken a while for Hamilton Township High School to get into the swing of bowling.

However, the district reformed the bowling team in 2019 and now 17 student athletes compete on boys and girls teams lead by Coach Art Short

“The team was formed to give the kids who don’t play mainstream sports an ability to compete in a sport of his or her best talents,” said Short, whose youngest son in on the team. “I have been coaching and or involved in Hamilton athletics in the area for over 15 years. I wanted to take the time to teach young adults the values of a team and that ‘One is not greater than the whole.’”

Members of the team include freshman, sophomore, junior and senior students. There are 10 Lady Rangers captained by senior Emma Peruzzi and seven on the boys team captained by sophomore Chase Crawford.

Peruzzi, who grew up around bowling and was recruited by Rio Grande College on a bowling scholarship, joined the Ranger team because it includes both the individual and team aspects of bowling.

“I knew from the minute I started bowling I absolutely loved it,” said Peruzzi. “Growing up I was always in a bowling alley from sunup to sundown. Other than high school bowling, I bowl on a Saturday morning youth league with my team Ten Pin radio. I also bowl in a travelling tournament call JTBA. With all these activities, it prepared me to bowl in college this fall for Rio Grande.”

The teams practice twice a week at the nearby Wayne Webb bowling lanes on South High Street, with at least two matches the same week on alternating days.

“We do have a rigorous tryout session but we did not have to cut any players this season,” said Short. “We have quite a few that returned from our last season and most the team does bowl in the off season either in leagues or tournaments.”

The current season got off to a slow start this year with the suspension of winter sports due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but the teams pressed on and worked with the district’s athletic department and bowling venue to rearrange schedules.

Short spent many hours on emails and phone calls rescheduling matches and practices. The season started with only two matches to date, but the team had a strong start and fared well with more wins than losses.

“As with any sport in the nation and the world, even bowling has had to make serious adjustments,” Short said. “We have implemented a serious temperature and well-being screening before every practice and match. We have limited the number of players per lane and allow only six-person rosters per match.”

Elaine Webb said Wayne Webb’s Columbus Bowl has hosted high school teams since 2010. Currently, they host bowling teams from Marion Franklin, South, Groveport Madison, Teays Valley, Independence, Hilliard Bradley, and now Hamilton Township.

When she was approached about Hamilton practicing and competing at her facility, her reaction was, “It’s about time. Parents from my Saturday morning youth league have tried for many years to get Hamilton to support and approve a high school team. These parents fought hard to get their incredibly talented son/daughter to compete with the Central Ohio High School Bowling Conference. But year after year, they were denied. And year after year, we got a new set of parents asking us to help them get their child on a high school bowling team. Finally, Hamilton is making this community very happy.”

Short said the benefits of bowling are many and students interested in the sport are able to enjoy the fellowship of the bowling community along with experiencing competitions across central Ohio.

However, the main reason he recommends bowling or joining a team is for the shear fun of the game.

“I know this is a trying time for all of us with the pandemic,” said Short. “All of our Rangers and Ranger parents are giving it 100 percent to make this a great season for our bowling team. In the end we are in this for the kids.”

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