Back like they never left: Spain Park claims boys bowling state title over Thompson

Published 1:44 pm Saturday, February 3, 2024

By ANDREW SIMONSON | Sports Editor

MOBILE – After a year away from the top of the mountain, the Spain Park Jaguars are the Class 7A state champions of boys bowling once again after defeating the Thompson Warriors 4-2 in an all-county showdown in the finals at Bowlero Mobile on Friday, Feb. 2.

The fourth state title in program history capped off a 20-2 season for the Jags, but the road was not easy on the second day of the AHSAA state championship.

Spain Park earned the No. 2 seed in the eight-team championship bracket thanks to their performance in individual play on Thursday, Feb. 1 and advanced to the championship after a pair of 4-3 wins over Hartselle and Sparkman.

Thompson took its own dramatic road to the championship game after the No. 4-seed Warriors survived a 4-3 thriller with Dothan in the quarterfinals and shocking undefeated Hewitt-Trussville in a 4-0 clean sweep in the semifinals.

After a pair of seven-game series for the Jags, their matchup with the Warriors would not require a seventh game to decide a winner, but it was still a hard-fought matchup between two of the best bowling teams in the state.

Powered by the momentum from their 225-192 win in game seven over Sparkman in the semifinals, Spain Park surged ahead in the championship match and commanded the early games.

The Jags won three of the opening four games to take a 3-1 series lead and put the Warriors’ backs against the wall in the ensuing game five.

Thompson remained cool and composed despite the pressure and went toe-to-toe with Spain Park in the fifth game. While the Jags posted a score of 217, the Warriors rolled a 229 to edge out their county rivals and keep their title hopes alive.

The pressure then shifted to Spain Park as the Jags looked to avoid losing out on the title after earning a 3-1 lead.

However, Spain Park’s resolve did not break and it won game six 177-157 to take back the championship.

The team championship was the second big honor for the Jags over their two-day run in Mobile after senior Luke Eaton won the individual championship on Thursday, Feb. 1.

Eaton bowled a 172 in the first game followed by a 244 in round two and a 247 to finish out the day in the third game, which gave him a combined score of 663, 63 points higher than the next best bowler. His round two and three scores were the most of any bowler during those games.

Thompson’s Kellen McNutt secured third place in the individual standings after bowling a score of 598, and the Jags’ Michael Kimble came in sixth with a total of 589.

The Warriors also had a reason to celebrate in the girls individual competition as Ella Walker took home first place honors with a score of 632.

She cruised to the individual title by bowling the best games in rounds one and two of any other bowler with a 196 and 231, respectively. She closed out the day with a 205 to secure the crown.

Thompson also had another pair of bowlers in the top 10 to help secure the No. 2 seed, as Emma Roberson finished in fifth place with a score of 546 and Sophie Leonard came in ninth place with a total of 522.

As for Oak Mountain, Emma Hawkins led the way in the individual competition, coming in 13th place with a score of 509. Her teammate Grace Smith finished right behind her with 508 points in 14th place.

That secure the No. 4 seed for the Eagles, and they found success on day two in a tight 4-2 quarterfinals win over the Baker Hornets.

Oak Mountain took the first game 139-130 and earned an even wider win in game two with a 166-126 victory.

The Eagles put themselves one win away from the semifinals with a 125-117 win in game three. Baker responded with its first win of the day, a 157-145 victory in game four.

However, that would prove to be the Hornets’ only win of the day.

Oak Mountain earned the win in game five by a score of 156-145 to secure the series win and advance to the quarterfinals.

While the Eagles fell in the semifinals 4-0 to eventual champion Stanhope Elmore, they earned their place among the top four girls bowling teams in Class 6A-7A by reaching the semifinals.

As for Thompson, its run ended in the quarterfinals with a 4-2 loss to Hewitt-Trussville.

After falling behind 2-0 early in the series, the Warriors fought back with a dominant 231-158 win in game three.

The teams traded games four and five as Hewitt took game four 154-137 and Thompson stayed alive with a 179-144 game five win. The Huskies closed out the series with a 190-180 win in game six to advance to the semifinals where they would lose 4-0 to Sparkman