With a national championship on the line, Elizabethtown’s Olivia Farwell focused on her approach in the last frame of her final match against Mary Orf.
The two bowlers had begun their marathon competition at 7:30 a.m. and now the clock was striking 2 a.m. in the 2017 edition of the High School Bowling National Championships, held in Smyrna, Tenn.
With nearly 600 bowlers and 71 teams from 22 states competing to be the best in the country, it came down to the two young women for the girls championship.
Farwell, who began the final game as the top seed, had a miss in the first frame, putting her under some pressure.
“I was really mad at myself, but decided to focus on what I could do better to catch up,” said the 2017 Elizabethtown Area High School graduate, who trailed by 25 pins in the fifth frame.
After Orf, from O’Fallon High School in Illinois, faltered a bit in the seventh frame, missing a 10 pin, Farwell did what she’s done all season – put her strike ball in play.
Elizabethtown head coach Frank Telenko Jr. said, “At that point, if both bowlers struck out, Olivia would lose by one pin, 237 to 236; but I knew she had a strong mental game.”
Showing the focused look of determination in her eyes, she rolled a four bagger, setting up the 10th frame.
Farwell finished first with a double and an eight-pin count on the last ball, still left the door open for Orf.
Orf needed a double to shut Farwell out, but was not able to produce one, so Farwell earned the win, 226-211, and the national championship.
“When Mary missed the 10 pin in the seventh,” said Farwell’s mother, Lisa, “E.J. (Farwell, Olivia’s father) looked at me and said (Olivia) has a chance to win this.”
When the 10th frame ended, Lisa Farwell added, she and her daughter broke into tears of joy.
“We all realized that she had beaten the top bowlers from all over the country,” she said. “We were all excited, but physically and emotionally spent, when it ended at 2:30 in the morning.”
Added Telenko, “Olivia’s championship capped a weekend of great performances by my team. She is a special bowler, and showed that in the toughest tournament I’ve ever seen.”
The successful competition capped a season filled with euphoric moments for Farwell, who captured District Three, Eastern Regional singles and team, and Pennsylvania state titles.
Led by Farwell, Brianna Young and Katelin Garman, the Elizabethtown girls team finished in seventh place, missing the semifinals by three positions.
“With the competition, my hope was for a top-10 finish, so I was tickled that we finished in seventh,” said the coach, who noted that the total experience, from the airplane ride to the tourney and event itself, was a great learning opportunity for his team.
The Penn Manor boys team, which earned this year’s state championship, missed the semifinals by just one spot, finishing in fifth place.
According to Penn Manor assistant coach Ed Fisher, the Comets were in third place after the first round, then slipped to fifth in the second round, where they finished. Nick Mease (697), Nick Fisher (670) and Austin Curtiss (635) led the team.
“We started very slow before rallying to a 953 in the first game, just making the first cut by six pins,” Comets head coach Chris Vital said.
But a solid second game of 1102 pushed the Comets into third, which they maintained in the third game with a strong 277 from Fisher.
In the baker games, the team slipped to fifth, just missing the final four by 78 pins. Harlem High School from Illinois won the team championship.
In singles competition, Curtiss led all Lancaster-Lebanon League boys with a ninth-place finish, just missing the elite eight by 16 pins. Mease finished 26th and Fisher in 27th place.
“The competition was so good and we held our own, so I was really pleased with our kids,” said Vital, who added that he was surprised by so many bowlers who used the two-handed technique in the top field.
The Ephrata boys team finished in 16th place.
According to Warwick head coach Neal Vital, other L-L competitors included Ephrata’s Nick Vanderwende (36th) and Warwick’s Isaac Erickson (46th).