Alter senior set to compete in D-II state bowling championship

Alter High School senior Ally Popp qualified for the Division II bowling state championship held at Wayne Webb’s Columbus Bowl on Saturday. Contributed

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Alter High School senior Ally Popp qualified for the Division II bowling state championship held at Wayne Webb’s Columbus Bowl on Saturday. Contributed

The environment at the high school bowling state championship is clamorous, crowded and a little bit crazy. Competing at Wayne Webb’s Columbus Bowl can get to veteran bowlers, let alone state newcomers.

Alter High School coach Bob Galpin isn’t worried about the atmosphere affecting senior Ally Popp. He knew he had something special when Popp showed up as a freshman with no competitive bowling experience.

“Almost everybody that I get on the team, they’ve maybe gone bowling with a friend one or two times,” Galpin said. “But she had never been on the competitive side of it. She fell right into it and was a starter two or three weeks into her freshman year.”

»RELATED: Wednesday’s high school roundup

Popp, who led the Knights in scoring average the past two seasons, competes in the Division II bowling state championship on Saturday. She joins Jessica Sawmiller (2013 and 2014) as the program’s two state qualifiers.

The D-II boys state tournament is Friday at Columbus Bowl.

“Knowing Ally she will have fun. The moment might get to her a little bit at the beginning, but she’ll forget about it and be herself,” Galpin said.

“She’s got all the fundamentals down. She’s not a kid where a bad shot gets her frustrated. One bad frame doesn’t mean it has to be two bad frames. She stays the course, as I like to say. She’s just very level headed.”

Popp led the Co-Ed Greater Catholic League with a 170.6 average, pacing Alter’s 1-2-3 finish with Amanda Arnold’s 164.3 and Abigail Foppe’s 157.9. Popp’s high game was 226 and her high series was 391.

At the D-II district meet last week, Popp finished fourth overall with a three-game total 632. That was an impressive leap from last season’s 497 that put her in 31st overall.

“I thought maybe we had two or three girls that could qualify, but Ally just bowled exceptionally well that day. She deserves it. She’s a hard worker,” Galpin said. “I don’t have a daughter, but if I had one it would be Ally. She’s a great teammate.”

Also competing, Fort Loramie senior Elena Bulcher returns after winning a second straight D-II district title. Bulcher rolled a 718 and enters state as the only D-II individual to finish with a three-game 700 series. Ansonia sophomore Mackenzie Singer qualified after claiming the fourth and final individual qualifying spot with a 598.

In the D-II boys tournament, Valley View senior Brandon Kreitzer and New Bremen senior Spencer Alig qualified as individuals. Kreitzer finished third at his district meet with 697. Alig, the Cardinals’ first state qualifier, finished second at his district with 664.

The Mississinawa Valley boys earned the program’s first state appearance after finishing third at the district meet. Senior Zac Longfellow led the Blackhawks with 659 and was followed by junior Colton Hardwick (638), senior Cameron Shimp (567), junior Roman Dircksen (532) and senior Mason Hardwick (two-game 401).

“I believe they can bowl at the same level as any team there,” coach Alan Longfellow said. “They just have to show up with their A game. I know they can do it, they just have to believe they can. … The Blackhawks community is very proud of this group and their accomplishments.”

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