Smith finishes as runner-up at state event
Gateway junior Tori Smith was the only bowler to record 200-plus scores in each of the six qualifying-round games during Friday's girls singles tournament at the Pa. State Bowling Championships in Ephrata.
Her best game was a 221, and her 1,272 total placed her in second after the qualifying round. It also put her in the stepladder finals for a shot at the state title.
When it was all said and done, Smith found herself in second overall, as Hempfield's Justyne Falbo outlasted the 24-bowler field.
“I am so honored to have been able to bowl at regionals and states,” said Smith, who competed at states for the second year in a row.
“My goal now is to get back to states and win the title. I have a lot of motivation to get better.”
Smith bowled against Manheim Central's Aerika High in the semifinal match, and Smith scored a 197-181 win to put her in the finals against Falbo.
Falbo opened the championship match with five strikes. Smith marked in four of her first five frames.
A split in the fourth frame led to a nine, but she marked the rest of the way, including a strike in the ninth, strikes in her first two balls in the tenth and a nine on her final attempt.
Falbo was able to stay ahead of Smith and finished with a 234 to Smith's 187.
“You have to tip your cap to Falbo,” Gateway head coach Andrew Smith said.
“She bowled phenomenal with nerves and everything on the line. Tori did also.”
Smith finished with only three open frames in the six qualifying games and four open frames overall.
“It was pretty much what we expected,” coach Smith said.
“She did what I told her to do. She picked up her spares. It was great to see her be that consistent. I was so proud and excited for her. She's getting better and better.”
Tori Smith was in first place after the first five games of the qualifying round, and Falbo rolled a 244 in game six to move into first by 12 pins.
“I just bowled the best that I could and focused on myself,” she said.
“I didn't know what my score or place was until after my fifth game.”
Smith bowls in two competitive leagues at Nesbit's Lanes in Plum, and she said handling the different oil patterns during various tournaments there helped her adjust and game plan for the different oil patterns she faced at states.
“It is a great opportunity to become better,” she said.
Four of the five bowlers who advanced to the stepladder finals were from the WPIBL.
“That is an example of how competitive the WPIBL is,” coach Smith said.
Tori Smith punched her ticket to states with a third-place finish at the Western Regional singles tournament March 8 at North Versailles Bowl.
Michael Love is a staff writer with Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-388-5825 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.