COLUMBUS - Canfield freshman Andrew Letscher looked at the scoreboard and did some quick math in his head. He knew that if he threw a strike in his first ball of the 10th frame, the Cardinals would win their first ever state bowling title.
He approached the lane, and as soon as it left his hand, everyone at Wayne Webb's Columbus Bowl knew - the Cardinals were the new state champions.
"I knew if I threw a strike, we would win," Letscher said. "So I was a little nervous knowing that I had to throw a strike, and it was probably the best shot I've thrown all day. After that it just hit me, 'We won state.' "
Special to Tribune Chronicle / Ben Barnes, ImpactActionPhotos.com
Canfield’s Andrew Letscher, left, is congratulated by teammates on Saturday. The Cardinals captured the boys state bowling team championship.
The Cardinals defeated Kettering Fairmont, 3-1, in the finals of the boys state bowling tournament on Saturday. Along with the fact that it was the first ever state bowling championship for the Cardinals, it was the first time the team had even made it to the state tournament.
"This is awesome," Canfield coach Carl Hurd said. "The guys earned it so much, and they were doubted by a lot of people. Nobody thought we would win, even coming down to the last match, and they stepped up."
The road getting to the finals was possibly the hardest for any team that had advanced to the championship round.
The Cardinals were seeded fourth after the qualifying round and faced Maysville in the first elimination game, which at one point had led during qualifying. However, Canfield easily won, 3-0 in the best-of-five series, to move on to face the top-seeded Fairport Harding Skippers.
Fairport had been the favorite to win the state title coming into the weekend. The Skippers had rolled through the competition in sectionals and districts, and had the top score after the qualifying rounds. That didn't matter to the Cardinals.
Canfield jumped to an early 2-0 lead on Fairport, but the Skippers came back and tied it at 2. But then Canfield bowled its highest baker game of the day, a 257, to advance to the finals and Fairmont.
The Firebirds were the second seed in the tournament, and brought a fan section that could rattle anyone with their chants and never ending cheers and claps. But the Cardinals didn't let that get to them, and came out strong to win the first game, 206-184.
"We blocked everything out very well," Hurd said. "They needed to realize they could do it. It was a frame at a time. I know that's a cliche, but it's the truth."
The only letdown the Cardinals had was the second game of the finals, in which they bowled their lowest game of the tournament, a 143. But after losing the second, they came back strong with games of 190 and 200 to take home the first-place trophy.
"These kids never gave up," Hurd said. "There's not much more to add, they earned every bit of what they got today."
While many doubted the Cardinals could even make it to state let alone win it Letscher always had faith in his team.
"No one in the entire area thought we could make it to state, let alone win," Letscher said. "I've been around bowling since I was two, so I know good bowling. I knew our team had potential to do it."