Published: 12:00 AM, Thu Feb 23, 2012
Jack Britt bowlers overcome jitters, win Cumberland County individual titles
Jack Britt bowlers Jonathan Kafel and Meghan Wilkinson admit they were a little nervous before taking to the lanes in the stepladder tournament of the Cumberland County championship Feb. 8.
Both Kafel and Wilkinson had qualified for the stepladder with top scores from the their three-game sets earlier in the day at host house B&B Lanes - Kafel with 619 total pins and Wilkinson with 573.
The success continued for the Bucs, as Kafel topped Terry Sanford's Brandon Miller and Douglas Byrd's Matthew Berryhill in the stepladder for the individual title.
Wilkinson picked up the girls' title, rolling past Byrd's Brianna Tew and then South View's Kaci Allen for the win.
The anxiety for each bowler came from two very different sources, but both overcame it with authority to win.
Kafel's individual title capped a full day of success for the Jack Britt boys, who took the county championship in the team competition, as well.
Kafel says he was determined to take the individual championship this year, not only to redeem his loss in last year's stepladder, but also to fulfill a very special promise he made to a former teammate.
Jack Britt bowler Brian Luckey died of leukemia on Easter 2011. Kafel describes Luckey as a close friend, one who led the Bucs' bowling squad as a junior captain in the final months leading up to his death.
"I promised him that I would do everything I could to win the conference championship," Kafel said.
Kafel came close to securing the individual title last year as a sophomore but missed the win last year by a couple of pins.
With his weighty promise to Luckey and the memory of last year's loss fueling him, Kafel handled the competition easily.
"I think for Jon, the championship was probably his goal since last year," Britt coach William McLean said. "I've never him so focused as he was on the day of the tournament."
For Wilkinson, a freshman, the experience was brand new.
"I was nervous through the team tournament, but I think when I learned that I'd made the stepladder, I was able to relax a little," Wilkinson said.
The Jack Britt girls missed the team championship, landing in third place behind South View and Cape Fear. But Wilkinson said the team finish wasn't a distraction to her while she bowled for the individual title.
"Really, I'm just so grateful to have won as an individual," Wilkinson said.