Austin bowlers get a second chance

 ROCHESTER — After taking a loss in the conference tournament last weekend at Recreation Lanes, the Austin High bowling team will have to capitalize on a second chance for a return trip to state.

The Austin Packers varsity bowlers found the road to a state tournament is long, and sometimes, has a detour or two in it. Competing in the Southeastern Conference tournament this past Saturday, the Packer bowlers won their first-round match, but lost their second-round match.

That loss prevented them from taking part in the championship round and a possible automatic berth in the state tournament in a few weeks.

All is not lost as the Austin bowlers will now take part in a "second chance" tournament, the Minnesota Qualifying Tournament (MQT). The Packers earned this opportunity by finishing in first-place for the regular season conference standings, but not winning their conference tournament.

The state tournament format requires 24 teams to be qualified. There are 21 conference champion berths awarded by way of conference tournaments. The remaining three positions are awarded by way of the MQT.


Austin started the conference tournament competing against Hayfield and swept all three games. The Packers won by scores of 200-198, 235-133, and 228-134.

"Bowling very consistently, the Packers took the match in three straight games," Austin coach Jim Juenger said. "Our bowlers missed only four fill opportunities, as a team, across the three games. Collin Bailey and Dan Gerlach had perfect matches, going 6-for-6 in fill opportunities."

Other fills for the Packers included: Lucas Hegna, 5-for-6 (83-percent); Kody Phillips, 8-for-9 (88.9-percent); and Elijah Rayman, 4-for-6 (66.7-percent).


Austin’s second tournament match was entirely different. Running into a Rochester John Marshall Rockets team on a mission, and dealing with different lanes, the Packers lost in four games. Austin won the first game 175-142, then JM won 159-156, 215-186, and 152-143 to take the match.

Although the Rockets finished seventh in the regular season standings, they still showed why they were a team to be reckoned with in the tourney. JM eventually went on to win the conference tournament and earned a trip to state.

"A number of ill-timed splits and missed fill opportunities in the match contributed to the loss," Juenger said. "We missed 13 fill opportunities across the four games in the match."

Phillips led the Packers, shooting 8-for-10 in fill completions. He was followed close behind by Collin Bailey, going 6-for-8 in fill completions. The remaining Packer bowlers all had 5-for-8 performances in the loss.


Austin bowlers will now participate in the MQT on Nov. 17, trying to gain one of the three remaining state tournament berths. That action will take place at Sundance Golf and Bowl in Dayton.

JV gets medals, headed to state

In related news, prior to the conference tournament action, an awards ceremony was held to honor a number of varsity and junior varsity bowlers. The Packers junior varsity team was awarded medals for their first-place finish in both the regular season standings and conference tournament. The team will be headed to the state tournament on Dec. 2.

Seniors on each of the conference teams were also recognized. Austin has four varsity seniors and one junior varsity senior. They are Isaac Bos, Jacob Conner, Ben Farrell, Dan Gerlach, and Lucas Hegna.

All-conference awards were presented to the top eight bowlers in the conference, as determined by their season’s fill percentage. Each winner must have bowled at least 70-percent of the total regular season match frames to qualify.

Austin placed three bowlers on the all-conference team. Phillips and Bailey (first and second place in the standings, respectively), and Hegna (fifth in the standings). Phillips was also named conference MVP based on his first-place showing during the season, and named to the conference all-honors team as well.

Phillips was also recognized as a member of the all-state all-star first team. Phillips had the second highest fill rate (92.5-percent) of all high school team bowlers in Minnesota. The all-state team recognizes the top 15 bowlers in the state, by season fill percentage, breaking them down into three five-person teams.

At the end of the conference tournament, the Austin team was presented plaques for their first-place finish in the regular season conference standings. Awards were also presented to Rochester JM and Red Wing for their first and second place finishes, respectively, in the conference tournament.

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