Miami Trace High School boys bowling coach Ron Amore Sr. had high expectations for junior Connor Collins, who made his first appearence at the Division I State tournament this past Saturday.
“I expect him to win,” Amore told the Record-Herald in a preview article last week. “We’re not going for second place.”
In a break from practicing for State last week at LeElla Lanes, Collins told the Record-Herald: “I’m pretty sure everybody would like to win. My goal is to place pretty high. If I can figure everything out…I feel I can do pretty good.”
Pretty good, indeed.
Collins figured things out pretty well, as he finished in third place out of 112 competitors.
Collins bowled very well in his first two games, starting with a 253 and following that with a 277 game. The 277 score was the second-highest single game score in the tournament; one competitor bowled a 279 game, but that student-athlete placed seventh overall.
Collins quite likely would have won the State championship, if not for the third game, in which he bowled a 169, while the two competitors ahead of him passed him with third game scores of 254 and 267.
Just qualifying to State made Collins one of the top one percent of high school bowlers in Division I schools in Ohio.
“It was an experience,” Collins said. “It was a different kind of thing. It was really weird. I was kind of nervous to start out. It’s just like going to bowl in another tournament, you just have to stay focused and bowl.
“The pattern was not too easy,” Collins said. “It was something you had to play around with, the oil pattern. We had a practice day the Thursday before. It was interesting. You had to play around with it. We talked about it for a little bit. The way I was playing and throwing the line, really, on paper, the pattern shouldn’t play like that. You never know what it’s going to do until you get there.
“It’s all about environment and who you are bowling with,” Collins said. “It’s a lot of different factors.”
After the first game, Collins was feeling good.
“I was excited,” Collins said. “I’m bowling good, so, that’s good. I kind of just found the line and the lane didn’t transition much at all, so I just threw that line that whole game and the ball kind of hooked up well.
“In the third game, it all came down to sporadically-missed spares,” Collins said. “I was throwing strikes, but, the ones where I didn’t throw strikes, I would leave like two or three pins. I’d leave the 3-6 and chop the 3-6. The last ball I threw, I chopped the 3-6 again.”
Collins was referring to having two pins standing next to each other for a spare, but only getting one of them to fall, leaving the frame open, decreasing the overall score.
“I left four open frames in that last game,” Collins said. “I left one open frame in the first two games apiece. If I would have gotten even one of them, I probably would have finished second. If I had gotten all four, I probably would have won.
“I’d like to thank Ron Senior,” Collins said. “I’ve been with him for three years and he’s taught me a lot of what I know. My parents provide me with everything I need to get me where I am. Also Shane Ison, the coach at Hillsboro, was there when I was practicing Thursday. He and I are good friends. He helped me figure the pattern out.”
Collins also thanked his grandmother, whom he lovingly refers to as Nana, for being one of his biggest fans.
“I’d also like to thank all of the community members,” Collins said. “Everyone who backs me. The Amores at the bowling alley. Everybody at the school, Mr. (Bryan) Sheets, Mr. (Ryan) Davis, Mr. (Rob) Enochs, everybody.”
“Connor is the first boy from Miami Trace to make it to the State tournament,” Amore said.
“Since he was a freshman, Connor has always listened well,” Amore said. “If he didn’t know, he asked questions. Sometimes Connor has a tendency to get a little too upset with himself. He’s probably his own worst critic. He works hard and he tries hard. My biggest thing with him is I have to calm him down and keep him focused on the next shot instead of worrying about what just happened.
“He’s a very polite young man and he works hard at the game,” Amore said. “He was 16 pins out of second place and 46 pins out of first place. That’s pretty amazing.”
Collins needed a score of 216 or higher in his third game to win the State title.
“What it looked like to me and from how well I know Connor, when he had a little bit of a problem, he got a little too excited and he tried a little too hard, instead of just relaxing and rolling the ball like he was earlier. He just over-tried, that’s what it looked like to me. I tried to calm him down, but that’s a lot easier said than done. That’s a really big stage for a young man like him. I don’t think people realize how big that stage is for a young man.
“I’m proud of my entire team,” Amore said. “They all work hard and they all try hard. Connor’s right among the top of all that. They’re boys and sometimes they get out of hand and don’t do what they’re supposed to. I’m proud of all of these boys that I work with. They are all pretty amazing at how hard they work and Connor’s one of the top ones.”
One day after bowling a 699 State, Collins competed in a tournament in Wilmington and rolled a 695 series.
The following statement might sum up Collins’ key to success.
“I’m at the bowling alley year ‘round, like three to five days a week,” Collins said.
Collins is the son of J.R. and Bobbie Collins.