Jasper's Lemond to bowl at state tournament

Submitted Photo
Jasper freshman bowler Karleigh Lemond has won the sectional and semistate championship this year, and will compete Saturday at state in Anderson.

By COREY STOLZENBACH
sports@dcherald.com

JASPER — Karleigh Lemond knew back in October she could get to this point, but building her confidence took some time.

The Jasper freshman had plenty of confidence last year as an eighth grader bowling against younger competition. But now she’s in high school, and she’s had to bowl against fellow freshmen all the way up to seniors. Her nerves persist, but they haven’t derailed her success, as evidenced by winning a sectional championship earier this month, and a semistate crown last weekend at Kokomo.

Now, she heads off to compete at the state meet Saturday at Championship Lanes in Anderson.

“The thing I keep trying to tell her is, ‘You belong here, and I’ll say it again on Saturday,’” Jasper girls bowling coach Scott Koterman said on Thursday, looking Lemond in the eye. “Before you throw that first ball, you belong there. Grade doesn’t mean anything. You belong, and we’ll go from there.”

Lemond knew at the start of her freshman year that she wasn’t as confident as she should be, but she knew that confidence would improve. Her assurance that her confidence would improve kept her going, and Koterman believed it was about the time she won the sectional championship that her confidence started to pick up.

It’s that confidence level, along with making better shots, where Koterman believes Lemond has shown the greatest improvement. Lemond seeks to place the ball around the second arrow when she bowls. It’s all about executing the shot, and trusting the ball to do the rest. There’s still things she’s needed to improve on, such as spare conversions. Every game at semistate had at least one open. Koterman thought she bowled very well, well enough to win, but did not bowl great.

“She’s a tough kid,” he said. “She’s a competitior. She’s going to keep fighting. She didn’t give up at all.”

“I always talk to myself a lot when I’m up there,” Lemond said. “‘I can do this. You can do this. You got this. Karleigh, don’t mess this up.’ It helps me a lot just knowing what I need to do in order to be good.”

An increased level of confidence doesn’t change the fact that she’s nervous for Saturday, and will be even more nervous during the National Anthem, just before the bowling begins. Lemond plans to weather those nerves by taking a lot of deep breaths. She’ll take about four per shot — when she dries off her fingers with the air dryer and stands at the foul line. Lemond knows she takes a lot of them during the day. Her nerves depend on how she’s doing when she’s bowling. The better she does, the less nervous she is. As she walks back to her seat, she’ll pick her thumb, and she showed The Herald her dry skin on that thumb Thursday during practice at Eastown Recreation Center. Lemond will notice Koterman after she bowls, but then she’ll see a lot of other people. She does it so as not to have to look them in the eye.

“Everyone’s looking at you,” she said. “Everyone’s looking towards the lane, and you just look back there and you see so many faces. So, whenever I pick at it, I just look down and it doesn’t allow me to look at them and become more nervous. It just lets me be me.”

She bowled Thursday, working on her release, 7 pins and 10 pins. Lemond does not plan to bowl today, not wanting to stress out anything before state.

Nine female bowlers from each semistate advance to the state competition. There will be 18 bowlers at the state tournament, with the distinct possibility Lemond could be the one to win it all.

“Why not?” Koterman asked. “We’ll see what happens at the end of it. If we make our spares, get on a couple of runs, we've got as good a chance as anybody there.”




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