SMYRNA — After a Final Four run last season, Walker Valley advanced to the TSSAA State Bowling Championship title match Saturday, but had to settle for second place as Columbia Central claimed back-to-back crowns.
Although the Mustangs jumped out to an early advantage, the Lions who were rolling in their third straight state championship match roared in the final two rounds for an 18-9 victory.
Ranked No. 1 coming into the event at the Smyrna Bowling Center, Columbia finishes the season with a 23-3 record, while Saturday’s loss was just the second in 29 matchs for the sixth-ranked Walker Valley squad.
The Mustangs charged out of the gate with three heads-up victories and a tie in Round 1, plus claimed the pin fall bonus points by a close 1,029-1,018 tally, thanks mainly to a 242 game by state individual qualifier Caleb Zanoska.
Behind the strength of three bowlers who advanced to the six-man championship round of the individual tournament on Friday morning, Columbia took the lead in the title match with four wins in Round 2, plus a 1096-978 advantage for the pinfall bouns points.
With just a one-point lead heading into the final round, the Lions went into full attack mode, winning four of the six heads up matches and tying another, plus claiming a 1,107-1,002 difference for the round’s bonus points. The overall pinfall was 3,221-3,009 in favor of Columbia to earn the three final points.
Zanoska led the way for Walker Valley with a 569 series, while Tanner Kincaid bowled a 511 series with his high of 198 coming in the second game.
Briton Helton, who was also a state individual tournament qualifier, rolled a 498 series, with a high of 185 coming in the opening round, while Nathan Kirby bowled a 487 series, with his high of 190 coming in the final game.
Dakota Dawson bowled a 476 series, with a high pinfall of 163 coming in the first game. Dylan Dawson bowled 329 in two games, with a high of 168 coming in the third game. Jacob Baker bowled a 139 in game one.
Columbia was led by Austin Harrington, who finished sixth in the state individual, with a 605 series, including games of 224 and 213. State individual champion Cole Flatt rolled a 573 three-game total with a 202 high game, while Jonathan Colbaugh, who finished fifth in the individual event, posted a 553 series with a 203 high score.
Walker Valley advanced to the championship match with a dominated 21.5-5.5 win over Region 2 champion Sevier County, ranked 12th in the latest state bowling poll, in Friday’s semifinal round.
Scoring at least six team points in each of the three round, the Mustangs were led by Baker, who amazingly rolled three straight 169 games for a 507 series.
Rolling their lowest total of the tournament, Walker Valley won the pinfall count by a 2,879-2,667 tally.
In the state quarterfinals, Walker Valley downed fourth-ranked Hendersonville (21-7) by an 18-9 total with just a 42 overall pinfall difference.
Without benefit of a 200-game, the Mustang victory was led by Helton’s 538 series with consistant scores of 176, 180 and 182. Zanoska rolled a 191 game in his 508 series, while Kincaid had a 185 among his 504 tally.
One of four schools to have both teams qualify for the state bowling championships, Walker Valley’s seventh-ranked and unbeaten girls saw their 22-match winning streak come to an end against third-ranked Wilson Central (25-1).
Returning to the TSSAA tournament for the first time since winning the state crown in 2005, the Lady Mustangs came out on the short end of a 19-8 tally to the Lady Wildcats.
Claiming a half dozen heads-up victories and one round’s worth of pinfall bonus points, Walker Valley was led by state individual tournament qualifier Kara Davidson and Miia Thompson who rolled a 459 and 458 series respectively. Davidson posted a 178 and a 170 among her scores, while Thompson rolled the team’s lone 200-game with a 205.
Alexis Rutledge and Nicole Hartman, both of whom also made the state individual tournament field, posted a 424 and a 403 three-game totals. Megan Cavett rolled a 395 for Walker Valley, while Delana Jones had a 382.
Wilson Central fell to eventual state champion Hardin County by the same 19-8 score it had won by. Second-ranked Hardin County (18-0) defeated No. 4 Columbia (22-4) in the title match by a slim 15-12 margin.
Walker Valley, Hardin County, Columbia and Kingsport Dobyns-Bennett were the four schools with both bowling teams qualifying for state tournament play.