DARKE COUNTY – Two bowlers and a wrestler who consistently were among the best in Darke County throughout the season are the Daily Advocate’s MVPs in their respective sports for the 2017-18 school year.
The Daily Advocate’s boys bowler of the year is Greenville’s Cullen Blinn, The Daily Advocate’s girls bowler of the year is Versailles’ Morgan Heitkamp, and The Daily Advocate’s wrestler of the year is Versailles’ Preston Platfoot.
Blinn led all Darke County bowlers with an average game of 202.7 this season, making him the lone high school bowler in the county to average better than a 200 per game.
“I think Cullen bowled great this season,” Greenville bowling coach Travis Nicholas said. “He was a leader of the team. He gets along with everyone and helps other bowlers out on the team when needed. They trust his opinion.”
The Greenville senior had a high game of 256 and a two-game series of 425 on the season.
“When he struggled he kept his cool and worked on getting back to the pocket,” Nicholas said. “He was also very consistent on his spare game.”
One of Blinn’s top finishes this season came at the Greater Western Ohio Conference’s preseason tournament where he finished fourth overall with a three-game series of 680.
“Cullen has worked hard on building up his arsenal of bowling balls so he has many options for different lane and oil patterns,” Nicholas said.
Blinn was named second team all- American League by the GWOC. It was the fourth consecutive year he earned conference honors.
“I have really enjoyed coaching Cullen the last three years,” Nicholas said. “I am definitely going to miss Cullen next year.”
Heitkamp led all Darke County girls with an average game of 181.3 this season, five points better than any other girl in the county. Her average was the second best in the West Ohio High School Bowling Conference South Division.
“Morgan Heitkamp proves that bowling achievements are earned with hard work and determination,” Versailles bowling coach Tyler Phlipot said. “Her potential has been evident since I first met Morgan in the lanes when she was in eighth grade.”
The Versailles junior had a high game of 262 and a two-game series of 493.
“Her practice goes well beyond the scheduled time for the Versailles High School team at the lanes,” Phlipot said. “She puts in extra time after practice, during the offseason and also reads to better understand the details of bowling. She has knowledge and skill which makes her a great competitor.”
Heitkamp won Ohio High School Athletic Association sectional and district championships as an individual. She also helped lead the Tigers to a sectional championship and their first district championship in program history.
At the OHSAA state meet, Heitkamp finished 12th overall and earned honorable mention all-state recognition. She helped lead Versailles to the state semifinals before falling to conference rival Coldwater.
“As our anchor bowler she understands her role on the team,” Phlipot said. “She motivates her teammates to stay focused, she shares her knowledge of the lane pattern and how her ball is reacting to help her teammates, and she puts up marks when they are needed most. There is no doubt she will continues to practice in the offseason and come back on fire her senior year.”
Platfoot finished his high school wrestling career on the podium, finishing seventh in the 132 pound division at the Division III state wrestling tournament.
“Preston lost his first match down at state but came back and won a couple matches to get him to place seventh,” Versailles wrestling coach AJ Bey said. “His perseverance and mental toughness is what makes PJ a good wrestler.”
The Versailles senior finished as the runner-up in his OHSAA sectional tournament and finished fourth at the district tournament. He also helped the Tigers reach the OHSAA state team tournament.
“Preston has been one of our most consistent wrestlers all year,” Bey said.
Platfoot was at the top or near the top of almost every statistical category for his team and the county this year including wins, tech falls, near falls, takedowns and reversals. He also earned his 100th career win this season.
“He was in the top two of most of our stats,” Bey said. “He was a great leader in the wrestling room.”
Kyle Shaner may be reached at 937-569-4316. Follow me on Twitter @KShanerAdvocate or get updates on Facebook by searching Darke County Sports or Advocate 360. For more features online go to dailyadvocate.com.