St. Xavier’s Brandon Flora arrived in Lexington ready to make history. He did just that, becoming the first boy to win multiple titles in the singles competition of the KHSAA State Bowling Tournament Thursday afternoon at Collins Eastland.
Flora defeated Boyle County’s Cameron Walker, 246-211, in the finals of the stepladder competition. Flora, the No. 1 seed after the first two rounds of play, earned a bye into the finals while Walker, the No. 2 seed, defeated Pleasure Ridge Park’s Clayton Cox, 269-226, for a chance to knock off Flora.
Boys’ single scores Girls’ single scores Boys’ and girls’ stepladder scores
It was Flora’s third appearance in the finals and Walker’s second. The seniors met in the 2014 finals as freshmen, when Flora came away with a convincing 289-181 victory.
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Flora, who bowled a day-high 288 in the first round of play, failed to pick up a spare on his first finals frame and afforded Walker an early lead. The St. Xavier senior had seven strikes over his final eight frames to gain a late advantage.
“After the first frame I thought I was in for it,” Flora said. “I did. He was throwing it good and I thought I was gonna need more than 240 to take it.”
Walker’s 269 in the stepladder semifinals was the second-highest boys’ score of the day but couldn’t sustain his momentum in the latter half of the final game.
“I threw a couple balls bad and I paid for it,” said Walker.
Breanna Elkin of Mercy defeated Boone County’s Kara Strong, 227-173, in the girls’ singles finals. Elkin became the first winner from a girls’ private school and the first girls’ indiviual winner from Louisville.
Lexington Catholic’s Megan Kelly didn’t qualify for the stepladder portion but finished fifth overall, the highest placing ever by any LexCath bowler. The senior has committed to bowl for the University of the Cumberlands.
“Honestly I came in a little bit scared and was hoping to make top eight and that’s what happened,” said Kelly, whose sister Amanda also bowled for LexCath and Cumberlands. She improved her final position by 16 spots from when she last qualified as an individual in eighth grade.
Kelly began bowling as a sixth grader, one year before the KHSAA began sanctioning the sport. She also played softball for Lexington Catholic but gave it up this season to fully focus on bowling, a sport she encourages every student to give a shot.
“You might find yourself something you like,” Kelly said with a grin. “ ... It’s definitely a team sport. I’ve made a family with my team and I love being out there with them.”
The Unified and Adapted team state tournament was held Friday morning prior to the singles’ competitions. Thirteen teams, including Bryan Station, competed in the event, which became the KHSAA’s second offering for students with special needs.
Southern, which finished as the No. 1 seed after the qualifying round, defeated Highlands, 191-169, in the four-round bracket portion.
Southern was one of three teams that earned byes in the first round. Bryan Station fell to Southern, 191-100, in the quarterfinals after defeating Simon Kenton, 106-92, in the first round.
The team state tournament will kick off at at 7:50 a.m. with the girls’ competition at Collins Eastland. The boys’ portion is scheduled for a 1:35 p.m. start.
The 7th Region, in which the Lexington schools and several other Central Kentucky schools compete, has produced two boys’ team champions: Scott County in 2012 and Henry Clay in 2015. A girls’ team from the the 7th Region has never won in the sports’ six-year history.
Bourbon County, the boys’ regional champion, and Scott County will represent the 7th Region this season. Harrison County, the girls’ champion, an Bryan Station will compete in the girls’ event.