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Oak Hills Boys Bowling Wraps Stellar Season with 5th-Place State Team Finish!
3/14/2018

By Adam Turer, Enquirer contributor / Photo courtesy Kurt Francisco


Oak Hills High School’s boys bowling team earned a fourth-place finish at the state championships in 2017. With the same bowlers back for another run in 2018, the Highlanders once again advanced to state.


Last year, the Highlanders were the eighth seed after qualifying and began the match play tournament by upsetting the top seed. This year, it was Oak Hills that earned the No. 1 seed. But, the Highlanders fell victim to the upset this time around in the opening match play game.


The Highlanders finished fifth overall in the state. A second straight top-five finish is an impressive accomplishment. But with half of the roster graduating, the Highlanders may look back on this tournament as what might have been.


“After qualifying, we were on top of the leader board. I think that got everybody nervous for the most part,” Oak Hills coach Kurt Francisco said. “It took awhile for guys to start relaxing after match play started and just trying to have fun. Everybody was getting startled after every mistake. They couldn’t relax.”


Individually, the Highlanders placed three players among the top 17 in the state. Senior C.J. Martini rolled a three-game total of 677, finishing tied for third place and earning all-tournament honors.


“I’m extremely excited for him,” said Francisco. “Last year, he didn’t place in the top 15. He was pretty happy about that. It’s a new achievement for him.”


Sophomore Chase Francisco placed 13th with a score of 642. Senior Hunter Bratfish ended up 17th, scoring 627. Six bowlers from the varsity roster will graduate, including four of the six bowlers who competed at state (Alex Rieger, Max Hennessy, Martini, and Bratfish). Sophomores Francisco, Nate Sexton, and Owen King will have to carry the team and do some recruiting around school if the Highlanders are to return for a third straight state appearance.


“We’re gonna be missing a lot of these boys, graduating six from varsity,” said Kurt Francisco. “We hope we can get some more bowlers to try out next year. Our numbers are looking thin for next year.”


The key to the 2019 season will be the coach’s son. He placed seventh in the state as a freshman, then followed that up with his 13th place finish this year.


“He’ll have a lot of pressure on him. It will be up to him if he can go up and perform. It’s hard when you look at him and see yourself as far as temperament and attitude. He’s hard on himself,” said Kurt Francisco. “It’s easy to coach him. He listens. I’m trying to figure out what he needs to work on. Because of the sport being 90 percent mental, his physical game is there. It’s pretty much just working on temper and attitude. That’s all he really needs to work on individually. He’s been a pretty good team player.”


Coaching Chase and seeing him excel at state two years in a row has been a joy for Francisco. He’s hoping that next year, he can once again bring a whole team of Highlanders to the state tournament. But there will be big bowling shoes to fill, as a special senior class moves on after this year’s fifth-place finish.


“It’s been something that I’m glad I’ve been able to be a part of,” said Francisco. “It’s been one heck of a pleasure to coach Chase, and all these kids.”


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