The Vermilion boys bowling team had a memorable season a year ago and Dylon Wilson and Bryan Martin were a big reason why.
The Sailors ended a four-year drought and made it to districts.
Wilson did even better, earning the fourth of five individual spots to the state tournament, while Martin missed qualifying by one lonely pin.
The goal now is to build on that success and actually get the entire team to state.
The Sailors missed qualifying last year by 185 pins, finishing ninth at districts. With the state going to two divisions this year, Vermilion is optimistic about its chances.
“I was very happy with my performance last year,” said Wilson, a junior. “I would like to up it a lot. Qualifying to state was a whole new learning experience for me. … It forces you to bowl better to try and hit your mark.”
Wilson had a 209 average for the season. Though he finished 20th at sectionals (617), he roared back with a 659 series at districts to earn his state spot.
“I’ve improved my stance at the line, staying solid and not falling off my shot,” Martin said. “I hit my mark a lot more.”
Vermilion last qualified a team to state in 2008-09, finishing 14th. It also advanced in 2006-07, placing 17th.
Wilson looks forward to the divisional alignment.
“I think it’ll work out for the better,” he said. “It gives the lower division programs a chance to compete.”
The Vermilion boys finished with a 13-2 record last year in the North Shore Bowling Conference to take the Division 2 title.
“Our goal this year is to go undefeated and not lose a match,” Wilson said.
Wilson has been doing plenty in preparation since the end of the last high school season. He typically bowls six games for practice to keep his endurance up for conference and the postseason run.
Martin has also worked extremely hard in preparation for the season.
“Missing by a pin wasn’t too cool,” he said. “Everyone really bowled bad at districts except Dylon. He made it. This year I’m going to give it all I have and hopefully make it to state.”
Martin bowled 112 pins over his average with a 649 at districts, finishing behind Ravenna junior Dylan Montgomery (650) for the final qualifying spot. Montgomery bowled a 276 third game to grab the final spot. Stow senior Tyler Meredith also bowled 649 and was given sixth place via tiebreaker over Martin because of a higher single game (238-228).
“We messed up at districts, but know that we’re all a year older and I think we have a better grasp at what we’re doing,” Martin said. “We would love to make state. That would be really awesome.”
Martin bowled in the Lake Erie League Summer League, which exposed him to a variety of shot patterns and helped improve his game.
“I’ve slowed my legs and my arm swing down a lot,” Martin said. “I bowled a lot over the summer. I got my first two 700s. I actually can get the No. 10 pin now.”
Vermilion was within 15 pins of qualifying to state last year through two Baker games before collapsing and finished ninth, 175 pins back.
“We caught the transition in the second game just right,” Vermilion coach George Buckosh said. “Three Baker games (of six) killed us (150, 157, 129). It’s the old thing of missing easy spares. If we had a couple of 170s there instead of 150s, we’d be there.
“We need a better balanced shot at the line. We’ve been working with arm swings and balance a lot just to keep their shots more accurate. That’s the route we’re going right now is to get their structure game going up to the next level. That’s done by balance at the line. It seems to be getting better every day, not just (Wilson and Martin) but the whole team.”