October 9, 2017
By KEITH RYAN CARTWRIGHT
Rutherford County Schools
Sarah Sanes has been bowling for more than half her life.
Her interest in the sport came from watching her father, Reinaldo, take up the sport, but Sarah wasn’t content passively sitting off to the side.
She picked up a ball and “really enjoyed it.”
Sarah loved the environment of being at the local bowling centers and almost immediately she was entered in a youth league and bowling competitively.
That was eight years ago.
Today Sanes — a junior who also competes with the team from Blackman High School — has bowled in tournaments throughout Tennessee and other states as well as the Dominican Republic, Spain, Puerto Rico and recently took home the bronze medal in an international tournament in Mexico.
She is also a member of the Under-20 and Under-15 Puerto Rican international teams. Sanes and her Under-20 teammates finished third out of 12 countries. Later this month, they will be competing in Panama and then head to Las Vegas for a 10-day tournament at the end of November into the early part of December.
“It’s taught me to keep fighting and keep working ward,” said Sanes, when asked about how the international competition helps her when it comes bowling as part of her high school team.
As a region, Middle Tennessee is the strongest part of the state when it comes to high school and middle school bowling.
After starting the high school season in mid-September, Sanes added, “My mental game was much better and physically I felt much better.”
She finished first at the Tullahoma tournament with a 649.
The middle school season will start after the Christmas holiday.
Last year at the state tournament, high school girls from Rutherford County dominated.
Danielle Jedlicki, who was only a sophomore at Siegel High School at the time, won the individual state title, while a trio of a Blackman girls – Baleigh Snow, 2; Erika Sisk, 6, and Sanes, 9 – finished in the top 10.
“I don’t let anything get to me,” said Jedlicki, who was introduced to bowling as a child when her babysitter, Wanda Barrett, took her for fun. “If I throw a bad shot, I just let it go and come back to the next one.”
She added, “You have good days and you have bad days.”
Last January, Jedlicki was at her best.
Jedlicki has been working with a personal coach, Travis Loeffler, from nearby Manchester since she was 12. He was a regular at the Smyrna Bowling Center and approached her parents after seeing her bowl.
“My coach tells me it’s one shot, one frame, one game and you take it one at a time,” Jedlicki said. “He’s always told me that and now I know it is.”
In 2016, Jedlicki finished second in the state tournament after advancing to a one frame bowl-off, and so she knows all too well there is “no guarantee you’ll win every time.”
Last January, Josh Meeke was the highest placing high school boy from Rutherford County. The sophomore from Smyrna finished third in the boys state tournament.
Blackman was seeded third in the girl’s state tournament, but didn’t make it out of the first round. The boy’s team from Smyrna High School advanced to the title match before losing to Hardin County.
Hardin boy’s and girl’s won both team titles.
“Middle Tennessee is the hotbed of high school bowling,” said Blackman coach Michelle Giacobbi. “We’ve been doing it for close to a decade. Smyrna boys, Blackman girls, it’s been an amazing run.”
Giacobbi added, “We call ourselves the little team that could.”
Giacobbi, who described herself as a “mediocre coach with a lot of great kids,” said it’s a privilege working with her team at Blackman every day.
Blackman has 10 boys and seven girls, while Smyrna and Stewarts Creek High School each have a pair of varsity teams. Smyrna has a girls team for the first time in a couple years and Riverdale High School has a girls team for the first time in several years.
The high school team at Blackman has been working with the middle school team and recently started working with elementary-aged kids from the Blackman community, Giacobbi said.
“We are so psyched more and more kids are getting into this,” she said. “We’re trying to build that pipeline. We’re trying to build a dynasty.”