Seven pins. In bowling, seven pins is minuscule. It's one spare, or just picking up a few more pins along the way.
But for the Champion boys bowling team, it's a number that haunts them to this day.
In the 2011 state bowling tournament, the Golden Flashes missed the championship round by seven pins. Champion was sitting in the eighth and final qualifying spot after the three qualifying team games, but lost its edge in the baker games, which sent them home early.
"It was one spare, that's pretty much what it came down to," Champion senior bowler Eric Ferraro said. "Because of that, we are all focused on getting back to state."
If the first half of the season is any indicator on the Flashes' chances of returning to Columbus, the odds are in their favor. In their most recent match, the Flashes' beat Lakeview, 2,670-2,162 to improve to 8-0 on the season.
"So far this year, they've been putting up pretty consistent numbers," Champion coach Brian Gill said. "They've been bowling really well together."
Part of the consistency of the Flashes is that only two seniors graduated from last year's state team and the current top five bowlers are all averaging more than 200 pins in match play.
Ferraro is the lone senior and averages 205. He's accompanied by juniors Zach Zigmont, who has the team-high average of 216, and Dan Simmons, who averages 208 and was a first-team All-Ohio bowler in 2011. Behind them are the sophomores Jared Gould (206), David Yenchocic (203) and Sam Adya (196).
While the individual totals are on the high side - showing that anyone on any given day can lead the Golden Flashes - none of that matters unless it means the team gets the win, and gets that much closer to the state tournament.
"At the beginning of the season, I have every guy write down three goals, a personal goal, a team goal and a season goal," Gill said. "Every one of them wrote down 'Get back to Columbus and make it to the final eight.'
"The loss last year fueled them quite a bit. It's what has propelled them to keep working this year."
With Champion's scores as high as they are, an outsider might think there is litte to work on in terms of their game. However, Gill makes sure the team stays focused on the things that kept them out of the state finals last year.
"One thing I harp on them is spare shooting," Gill said. "They need to pick up their spares. You can see what happened last year (when spares are missed). It can really ruin a day. When going into your sectionals and districts, spare shooting is key, especially when you get into your baker games. We have to maintain 190s or above in baker games."
Ferraro agrees with his coach, but the lesson he and the rest of the Flashes learned is getting them through every match this season.
"Every shot counts," Ferraro said. "You have to go up there and do your best and get everything you can. You have to pick up spares or the most pins you can."