By Josh Brown
TROY — Troy’s bowling teams have already been busy this season.
Thursday, they came home for the first time.
The Trojan girls — already winners of three large tournaments, including the Preseason Greater Western Ohio Conference one — and boys swept Fairborn Thursday in their home opener at Troy Bowl, with the girls cruising to a 2,339-1,681 win and the boys holding on for a 2,360-2,175 victory over the Skyhawks.
So far, Troy’s girls (1-1, 1-0 GWOC American North Division) have won the season-opening Centerville Elks Invitational, the Ohio High School Kickoff Tournament in Columbus and, after a narrow defeat in their first head-to-head matchup at Versailles, the Preseason GWOC Tournament.
“I think the girls are just focused,” Troy girls bowling coach Rob Dever said. “They’ve been through it all before, they’re experienced and they’re just focused on doing the best they can. I mean, we’ve been to three tournaments this year — and we’ve won all three. That’s pretty tremendous.
“When the challenge is there, they just seem to rise. They get more focused and rise to meet the challenge. They know what it takes and how to prepare. Nothing phases them.”
And the Trojans have met that challenge in different ways, too.
After being led in the first two tournaments by returning three-time GWOC American North Division Player of the Year Jenna Stone, the senior posted the team’s third-best score against Versailles — and then fifth-best score at the Preseason GWOC. But the Trojans got 600-plus series from newcomer Stephanie Crider, who lead the team on the day, and senior A’leigha Smith, taking the top spot in team qualifying and then cruising through bracket play to take the early advantage in both the division and overall GWOC competition.
“That’s what we rely on,” Dever said. “We don’t rely on one or two people. It’s the total team effort. If one or two kids are down, then someone is there to pick them up. At the first two tournaments, Jenna did well. She struggled a little bit last week, but she’ll bounce back. I have 100 percent confidence in her.
“One reason I love coaching these girls is that they will battle you all the way to the final ball. During a couple of those head-to-head matches (at the GWOC), it really did come down to a couple balls or a handful of pins. A lot of times, there was a pivotal game that turned the tide of the match. One game, we were losing the whole game but finished strong. Jenna struck out — and it was the pivotal third game, too. It was either going to be 2-1 them or 2-1 us. They know how big a difference that can make, and they always battle. That’s what I like about coaching them.”
Stone began to bounce back Thursday, leading the Trojans against Fairborn with a 247-192—439. Crider followed that with 220-185—405, Smith rolled 192-183—375, Alyssa Shilt rolled 179-179—358, Cassie McMullen added a 191 game and Sierra Brown added a 152.
All that helped the Trojans build a 1,920-1,376 lead after two regular games, and they rolled 183-236 in the baker round to Fairborn’s 180-125 to put it away.
But for the Trojan girls — who won the team state title two years ago and finished state runner-up last season — it’s only the beginning.
“We definitely want to take care of business in the North first,” Dever said. “The overall GWOC, if we’re in there and we have a shot at it, that’s great. But we know there are bigger prizes down the road.”
Troy’s boys, meanwhile, have seen their stock rising, too.
After struggling the past few seasons, the Trojans finished sixth at Centerville and 10th at the Kickoff Tournament, then they made the cut at the Preseason GWOC Tournament for the first time since the 2012-13 season, falling in the first round of bracket play and finishing eighth.
“They have (been off to a strong start). We’re pretty happy with that,” Troy boys coach Doug Stone said. “Some of the freshmen we have coming up have helped. I had one come up on varsity (Jordan Fisher) that has been bowling pretty well, and I have a couple coming into JV that I’ve pulled up for some of our tournaments, and they’ve done well.
Thursday, the Trojans (2-0, 1-0 GWOC American North) got every pin they needed against Fairborn.
Aaron Stone led all bowlers on the day with 268-235—503, the only 500 series posted by either team. Fisher followed that with 169-226—395, Carson Rogers rolled 181-204—385, Bri0 an Joins II added a 204 game, Logan Jones had a 157 game and Preston Jackson had a 156 game.
Troy held a 200-pin lead after two regular games, 1,978-1,778, then rolled 190-192 to Fairborn’s 233-164 in the baker round to finish off the win.
And the early-season success for Troy’s boys —who went a modest 11-6 last season and finished third in the division standings — can only lead to bigger things down the road, according to Stone.
“I think it’s going to help a lot,” Stone said. “Getting them in the right mindset will hopefully bring us to the second championship round in a tournament instead of just the first. That’s what we’re working on right now.”
Troy’s teams will compete at the Wright State Raider Challenge Saturday before returning home to face Xenia Tuesday in another GWOC American League crossover match.
Contact Josh Brown at (937) 552-2132, or follow @TroyDailySports on Twitter.