Todd closes career with a bang

EAST LIVERPOOL–When East Liverpool senior Billy Todd took up bowling roughly a decade ago, he couldn’t envision the role the sport would go on to play in his life.

“I think I was seven or eight when I first started,” Todd said. “My parents encouraged my brother and I to join a youth league. I found that I enjoyed it and I was good at it. Later I found out that bowling could be a possible way to earn a college scholarship money. That’s when I started to take it much more seriously and work hard at getting better.”

Fast forward to this year, and Todd has earned the right to bowl on the biggest stage of his career when he competes in this weekend’s Division II boys state bowling championship at Wayne Webb’s Columbus Bowl in Columbus. Qualifying gets underway at 10:30 a.m. Saturday.

Todd booked his trip to state by coming through with a 636 series (including a high game of 245) at last week’s district tournament at Zanesville. His effort was good for a fifth place finish and one of two individual berths.

“It’s kind of surreal right now to be honest with you,” Todd said. “It’s something I’ve always wanted to do and it’s a thrill and an honor to make it happen. I’m excited to represent East Liverpool.”

Pushing Todd all along the way during his career has been his brother Alfred, who is a junior on the East Liverpool bowling team and placed 11th at last week’s district tournament.

Alfred has the better high game of the two (277, compared to 265 for Billy), while Billy has the high average series. Todd said the friendly sibling rivalry between the two has helped keep him sharp.

“Alfred and I have always bowled together,” Todd said. “We have a lot of fun competing with each other. His scores give me something to shoot for.”

Through the years, as his love for the sport has grown, Todd has honed his game with hours of repetition.

“During my freshman and sophomore years, I was bowling non-stop in the offseason” Todd said. “I’ve scaled back a little bit because you can get hurt if you overdo it too much, but I still play a lot. Right now, between matches and practice, I probably bowl about 25 games a week.”

Todd said he tries watch professional bowling tournaments now and then and was able to catch some of the PBA Players Championship, which was held last week at Wayne Webb’s Columbus Bowl.

He said the big stage shouldn’t be much of a problem.

“I was able to see a couple of rounds, it was fun to watch,” Todd said. “New bowling alleys don’t intimidate me that much, the lanes are still the same size. I’m excited to get down there and compete.”

Todd has been coming on strong late in the year and believes a high finish is possible if he maintains the level of play he showed last week.

“I could really see myself finishing anywhere in the standings, but I’m hoping to place in the top-20,” Todd said. “I’m really happy with the way I bowled last week and hopefully that can carry over.”

In the fall, Todd will be moving onto Ohio Northern University, where he was accepted into the engineering program. Although the school does not have a varsity bowling program, Todd says he is likely to keep playing in some capacity.

“As this year has gone on, I’ve realized how much I love bowling,” Todd said. “It’s something that’s probably going to be with me the rest of my life.”