By Mark Ambrogi
2016 marked the first time the Carmel High School team ever advanced to the Indiana High School Bowling state finals.
“If you had to ask me of any of the four years, I would say this team was the least expected to do well,” said senior Nick Lambert, whose team finished eighth of 12 teams in the boys portion of the state finals on Feb. 20 at Mike Aulby’s Arrowhead Bowl in Lafayette. “So the fact that we did it was just amazing.”
Perhaps it just took a little extra motivation.
Mike Caron, who has been the team’s coach for 12 years, learned he had lung cancer before the team began bowling matches this season. Assistant coach Mike Oehler took over with help from Caron’s son, Carl.
“I really think we did it because of our coach — we just had him in our mind,” Lambert said. “We knew it what we had to do and make what may be his last team, his best team. It was a huge motivation.”
Senior Danielle Singer, the lone female on the team since Carmel didn’t have enough competitors for a girls team, said bowlers were focused.
“Every game that we bowled sectional through state, it was always for Coach,” Singer said. “Honestly, I never expected to get to state with this team. Last year was supposed to be our year, and we kind of messed it up. It was a great surprise.”
Singer said during the breakdown before the match, the bowlers would say “1, 2, 3 for coach.”
“When we were tired and wanted to get it done and go home, that was when we said for coach, and we got our highest Baker score ever with 254,” Singer said.
In the Baker scoring, each member of the team bowls a frame.
Oehler’s son, Grant, a junior, placed second in in the individual stepladder finals, losing in the state championship final to Ben Davis freshman Nikolas Bowman, 195-186. Oehler was the individual regional champion and second in semi-state.
Freshman Steven Dawson was one of eight bowlers on the squad.
“It was an awesome first year,” he said. “I couldn’t have expected anything better. Going to state was a great experience for all of us.”