The Van Wert County Courthouse

Wednesday, Jun. 19, 2024

Decker, Bidlack ready to bowl in C’bus

SCOTT TRUXELL/independent sports editor

One is a sophomore, one is a senior, but both are heading to Columbus to represent Van Wert High School and compete in the 2019 Bowling State Tournaments.

After qualifying for State as a freshman, Lorrie Decker is making a second consecutive appearance at Wayne Webb’s Columbus Bowl, while Nathan Bidlack is closing out his high school bowling career at the highest level.

Lorrie Decker

Last year, Decker competed against 102 other Division II bowlers and was the highest placing freshman in a field of mainly juniors and seniors.

“It was extremely challenging and I finished 14th overall last year,” Decker said. “Personally, I should have slammed the pattern but I didn’t, and my spare game isn’t where it was now and I kept ‘rubbernecking’ as what my coach and I call it.”

“I think the experience from last year will definitely benefit for me this year,” I’m prepared, my spare game is there I’ve made a lot of adjustments to my game mentally and fundamentally, and I’m ready.”

Her father and Lady Cougars head bowling coach Kevin Decker also believes his daughter has made significant improvements since last season.

Two Van Wert High School bowlers and their coaches are ready for the State Tournament. Pictured from left to right: Lady Cougars coach Kevin Decker, Lorrie Decker, Nathan Bidlack and Seth Blackmore. Scott Truxell/Van Wert independent

“Lorrie has become more versatile and can play deeper inside and swing the ball if needed, but she tends to have higher scores and more success playing up the boards on the outside,” the elder Decker said. “Her spare shooting is better then most bowlers and it’s unusual to see her have a bad spare day.”

“People will see her throw a lot of strikes and probably think that’s her strength, but spare shooting even on big splits, she has a higher rate of converting them than even some of the more experienced bowlers no matter what age.”

Having a father who’s also the team’s head coach has some pros and cons but the benefits seem to outweigh any negatives.

“I view him as my dad and he’s my mental mindset, he gives me pep talks when I need them, he’s my role model but he gives me the truth – no sugar coating, and I don’t mind that at all,” Decker explained. “He’s my number one fan.”

“Then he is my coach and that has benefits, as he will always give me the best answer possible when he has it. I get tips, pointers and stories with a lot of experience as well.”

“There are downfalls of him as my coach we don’t get as much time together on the lanes because he will be working with someone else that needs help or asks for it, he will never turn anyone away. Yes, that can be frustrating but he does put a lot of time into my game with me.”

“Coach will do what best for the team first – it’s always team first. There is no ‘I’, – we’re a team and have a purpose.”

As one could imagine, Decker has been around the sport for a big chunk of her young life, which is paying dividends now. She’s also helping younger bowlers improve on the lanes.

“My sister is a head bowling coach at a university (Lourdes University) and my dad has been a coach since the late 1970’s, Decker said. “I’m a coach for the Van Wert Middle School team, so I understand when he (Kevin) doesn’t have enough time for me during practice individually because, and I don’t always get around to every single player during my practices.”

“But when a player comes to me or my dad one on one and wants help we will never deny it, we will always give our knowledge to those who ask for it.”

Decker is scheduled to bowl at 10:15 Friday morning.

Nathan Bidlack

Bidlack qualified for Division II district competition in 2018, which served as a springboard for this year.

“I quickly learned what I needed to practice for my senior year,” Bidlack said. “I knew that with some of the scores I rolled this year, I had potential to move through tournament as an individual and I also felt I had a great chance of being the state champion.

A 636 series at last weekend’s Division II district at Interstate Lanes in Rossford was good enough for an individual runner up finish and a qualifying spot at the State Tournament.

“I wasn’t necessarily nervous at districts, but I did feel a lot of pressure knowing that it could have been my last high school bowling tournament,” Bidlack said. “As the prominent anchor bowler and starter for the past two years, I have been under tremendous pressure on many occasions, so I felt that I was extremely well mentally prepared to take on tournament.”

“I feel that my biggest strength on the lanes is my mentality when I bowl,” Bidlack continued. “Actually, throwing the ball is only a very small percent of the game.”

“I have to be mentally prepared each time it is my turn to bowl. If I throw a bad ball, I forget about what I did and make the necessary changes needed to make my next throw a good one.”

Head coach Seth Blackmore believes Bidlack’s intelligence and experience will suit him well in Columbus this weekend.

“He is smart and knows the game well,” Blackmore stated. “In bowling you have to be able to remain calm and keep your emotions under control when struggling. Nathan is great under pressure and always stays positive.”

“Nathan is able to read what his ball is doing on the lanes, he can adjust how many revs (revolutions) he can put on the ball, he can move his feet and his mark on the lane to get the best angle into the pocket. He throws a great spare ball and just has a natural talent for the sport of bowling.”

Bidlack has bowled at Wayne Webb’s Columbus Bowl, but it was many years ago for State as a youth bowler.

“Since then, I bowl much different and know a lot more about bowling,” Bidlack explained. “It is impossible to know for sure how the lanes will be at State, but I feel confident I can do well since I have much exposure to different lane conditions.”

While the ultimate goal is to win a state title, Blackmore said there’s another important aspect to Saturday.

“This is Nathan’s first trip to State and of course I want him to go do his best but also to have fun no matter the outcome,” Blackmore said. “Not every athlete gets a chance to say ‘In high school, I made it to state.’”

Bidlack is scheduled to bowl at 10:15 on Saturday.

POSTED: 02/28/19 at 5:12 am. FILED UNDER: Sports