Knights’ North ready for state bowling

Knights’ North ready for state bowling
Justin Smith

West Holmes senior Hailee North advanced to the Division II girls bowling state tournament by finishing first as an individual at the Div. II Legacy Lanes District on Feb. 22.


A year ago Hailee North just missed qualifying as an individual for the Division II girls bowling state tournament.

North used that narrow miss as motivation throughout the offseason leading up to her final high school season.

The West Holmes senior’s hard work paid off on Feb. 22 when she led all bowlers with a career-best 631 series at the Div. II Legacy Lanes District to win a district title and advance to the state tournament, which will take place March 2 at H.P. Lanes in Columbus.

North started the district tournament with a personal-best 245 game. She followed that up with a 239 before finishing with a 147.

North, who bowls left-handed, has been dealing with a thumb injury in her left hand for the past few months. She admitted her hand was bothering her some in the third game, leading to a much lower score than the first two.

“I just kind of went in (to districts) saying, ‘Whatever happens, happens,’” North said. “It just keeps you going because bowling is a mental challenge, so if you just go in there saying, ‘You’re going to do great,’ it usually happens.”

During the offseason North went with her dad to a bunch of college showcases — including ones in Tennessee and Michigan — to work on improving her bowling skills.

“It was just basically a bunch of showcases where professionals and really good bowlers came in and tried to help you just tweak what you were doing to make you throw better,” North said. “I was bowling a few times a week whenever I could because I was in band. Being in the state fair, band and all the other activities, I was still trying to get in the alley as much as possible and just work on the simple things: rotation, steps, every little thing that goes into throwing a ball down the lane. I took one step at a time to work on it.”

North said the way she approaches each game has been her biggest growth since last season.

“I look at it now as one frame at a time instead of, ‘Oh, this entire game is terrible,’” she said. “That stability of just being, ‘Hey, it’s a new ball; it’s a new throw, just fix whatever you did wrong last time,’ just keeping that positive mindset for a longer period of time has definitely improved the most since last year.”

North said she started bowling when she was 4 or 5 years old. Her parents wanted to get her out of the house during the winter and into some sort of activity, so she started bowling once a week in the youth league at Spare Time Lanes in Millersburg.

“It just kind of grew from there,” North said. “I fell in love with it, and I wanted to know more about it. I got my first ball when I was about 7, and I just started learning from there.”

North transferred to Wayne Lanes in Wooster when she was in middle school. While there she learned from former Wooster High standout Abbie Leiendecker, who now bowls at Div. I Louisiana Tech University.

“That’s when I really fell in love with getting to know how the game really works,” North said.

North continued to bowl at Wayne Lanes until West Holmes started its varsity bowling program during the 2022-23 school year.

West Holmes coach Chris Young knew North when she was a young bowler at Spare Time. He recognized even then that she had the potential to become something special.

“I remember her from back in the day, and I always kind of thought she’s got a pretty good swing on her arm and can get it down there,” Young said.

North is the first West Holmes bowler to make state. That’s extra motivation for her heading into the tournament.

“Just doing the best I can and to represent West Holmes (are my goals at state),” North said. “It’s a big deal to have somebody going in the second year that the team has been established, so I’m just trying to set West Holmes right.”

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