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Thursday, 21 January 2021 21:32

Richmond holds bowling tryouts, teams 'excited' for condensed season

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Sophomore Molly Erwin (foreground) and junior Dexter Mabe bowl practice rounds on Wednesday. Sophomore Molly Erwin (foreground) and junior Dexter Mabe bowl practice rounds on Wednesday. Kyle Pillar — Sports Editor.

ROCKINGHAM — Three days of tryouts for the Richmond Senior High School bowling teams wrapped up on Thursday at Strker’s Bowling Center, and the season is just a few weeks away.

Third-year head coach Ralph Butler admitted he wasn’t sure if the 2021 season would happen, explaining that the boys’ and girls’ bowling teams are not sanctioned by the North Carolina High School Athletic Association.

“It’s good the conference is going to do something for the kids,” Butler said. “They’ve been ready to get back out here and they’re excited to be bowling again. Most importantly, they’re having fun.”

Butler had five females try out this week, and about a dozen boys participated in the three days of workouts. Helping out this year will be Lily Sager, a teacher at Hamlet Middle School, who has bowling experience.

Last Friday, Butler received confirmation that a condensed season would take place, beginning Feb. 11. There will be three team matches, followed by two singles tournaments in early March. 

Not all of the dates for the matches have been finalized yet, but Butler noted the team won’t have to travel as far as it has the past couple of years. Three of the matches will be held in Aberdeen, and the other two will see the teams travel to Lumberton.

With COVID protocols in mind, the conference is also going to split matches in half and use two different venues to allow for social distancing and meet the state’s requirements of how many people can gather in one location.

“In order to split the teams up, we are going to be using two different bowling alleys on days when we have matches,” Butler explained. “It’s safer that way, which is what we’re trying to maintain this season.

Butler said he’s requiring daily temperature checks and is using the NCHSAA’s health questionnaire before allowing bowlers into the alley for practices.

Masks are also required during the entirety of any practice or match, and bowlers are not allowed to share bowling balls.

Normally, the high school bowling season begins in November and runs through January with the conference tournament and state championship. With a nearly three-month delay this year, and not knowing if a season would occur, Butler said getting enough bowlers to come out was a challenge.

“It was a little difficult getting the word out to the kids about the season with everything going on,” Butler said. “I tried to have the returning bowlers spread the word, and we definitely have enough to play. But I’m always looking to add more to the team in case someone comes down with COVID or can’t bowl.”

Two returning seniors, Autumn Hoffman and Josie Standridge, will anchor the girls’ team. Sophomores Ashlynn Bouldin and Cadence Thompson also return this winter, alongside newcomer sophomore Molly Erwin.

The Raiders’ team should have plenty of bowlers to choose from, including experienced seniors Tyler Bittle, Joseph Grant, Hunter Hancock and Mitchell Massey. Joining them are returning juniors Dexter Mabe and Cameron Way, as well as sophomores Lane Richardson and William White.

Juniors Alston Johnson and Colin Wheeler will also join the team and try to get the Raiders back to the state championship match.

“We’re just trying to be smart and stay safe,” Butler closed. “Unfortunately it’s the new normal and we just want to have as much fun and success as we can this year.”

The Richmond Observer will publish a complete season preview in the coming weeks.

Kyle Pillar

Three-time award-winning sports editor. Indiana University of Pennsylvania communications media and journalism alumni. English teacher, Ninth Grade Academy.

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