Van Wert freshman Lorrie Decker watches a shot during competition at the state bowling tournament on Saturday in Columbus. (DHI Media/Jim Cox)
Van Wert freshman Lorrie Decker watches a shot during competition at the state bowling tournament on Saturday in Columbus. (DHI Media/Jim Cox)

COLUMBUS – Van Wert bowler Lorrie Decker’s first trip to the Division II state tournament at Wayne Webb’s Columbus Bowl didn’t go quite as she would’ve liked, but it was plenty good enough. The freshman lefty started slowly and rallied late in all three games for a 203-184-162-549. That was 14th among the 80 bowlers who rolled a complete three-game series, good for all-Ohio honorable mention status.

Decker was also the highest scoring freshman at the tournament, and only two sophomores had better scores.

“I’m really happy with my freshman year,” said Decker. “Districts was way harder than this for me. Because of districts, I knew how to take what was going on. I was proud of myself in the end, no matter what the outcome was.”

The top five bowlers make first team all-Ohio, 6-10 make second team, 11-15 are honorable mention. Lima Bath senior Bryana Twining far out-distanced the field with a 216-245-223-684 for the individual state championship. Only four bowlers rolled 600 or better.

Decker started the first game with an open frame, leaving the 7-pin, which would happen a total of five times on the day (she converted four of her nine 7-pin spares). That was her only open frame of the game. In her next seven frames, she had a strike and six spares, then she finished the ninth and tenth frames with four strikes in a row for her excellent 203.

The second game was similar, but she had opens in both the first (10-pin) and third (7-pin) before rallying again. She had a total of three spares and five strikes, but only two of the strikes were consecutive. That gave her a solid 184.

Hoping for a good third game to move her up in the standings, she didn’t get one. In the first six frames she had two spares and four opens, including three missed 7-pins. She rallied in her last four frames — strike, spare, strike, strike, nine — that brought her up to a 162.

“Yeah, we did make adjustments at the end of all three games,” added Decker. “I was rubbernecking (watching other girls) the first four or five frames of that last game, which I knew I shouldn’t have been. By the second ball of my fifth frame, it was like ‘You just need to stop,’ so then I cleaned myself back up. I think there were four opens in that game, and they were all because of me.”

“She got tired the last game,” said Lorrie’s father and coach, Kevin Decker. “She wanted to sit down. This is a mental thing now. If you’re tired you have to fight through it, and so she did. The mental aspect of this game can wear you down physically.”

Lorrie Decker agreed with her father. “Mentally I was tired (by the third game) because I wasn’t picking up my spares. My single-pin spares were really killing me.”

Although her 549 wasn’t as good as her performances at sectionals (617) or districts (578), the lane conditions here clearly caused problems for many bowlers, which was obvious by Decker’s high placing.

The Rossford District, as usual, came up big in both the individual and team competitions. Of the 15 individuals who took all-state honors, Twining, Decker, and seven others came out of that district. Also, Coldwater finished 2nd, Bryan 3rd, and St. Marys 5th in the team competition, which was won by Fairport Harding. The Coldwater girls now have four championships and two runnerup finishes in the 12-year history of the tournament.