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Thursday, February 21, 2019

Beechwood Student Wins Regional Championship

All one has to do is look in the trophy case at Beechwood High School to see a proud and successful Tigers' athletic tradition that spans decades.  And the championship pedigree welcomed a new member into the fold.    

Ashley Bruce, a junior, brought home a piece of hardware that no girls bowler at Beechwood has ever earned:  a medal to wear around her neck as Kentucky's Region 6 individual bowling champion.  Bruce punched her ticket to the State Tournament in Louisville on Thursday, February 7th.

"I've always been interested in it, I suppose, because I always saw my sister bowl," Bruce said.  "So I said, 'OK, I guess I'll do it!"  Bruce started knocking pins down in 7th grade and her love for the sport has only blossomed since.

Her older sister, Amanda, graduated from Beechwood in 2016 and went on to bowl at the University of Central Missouri.

But school history almost never had a chance to be made.  Bruce said she thought about pulling out of the regional championship voluntarily because of a scheduling conflict on the day of the State Tournament.

"I almost didn't compete in regionals because if I made it, I'd feel like I would be 'that person' that couldn't go to State."

Bruce is an accomplished member of the marching and symphonic bands, as a drum major and an all-state clarinetist.  There is an all-state band rehearsal, also in Louisville, the same day as the KHSAA bowling championship.  But Bruce's absence will be excused as she pursues an individual bowling title.

"Ashley is a well-rounded young lady who is involved in so many activities here at Beechwood," Athletic Director Ryan Booth said.  "She is a leader and learner both in and out of school and we could not be more proud."

Proud, no doubt, of the time Bruce puts in to excel, when it would be very easy to go to sleep or watch Netflix instead.

"Why are you over here so late?"

It was this question, or something similar, that often came from a staff member at an Erlanger bowling alley.  On weeknights in the middle of winter, at some time after 9pm, a dedicated Bruce would arrive in shorts to bowl three games and hone her craft.  "I think it's the dedication I put in and it's good to see the results," Bruce said.  Bruce often drove over to bowl after a band rehearsal that lasted from 5-9pm was over.

When is there time for homework?

Juggling this kind of schedule has allowed Bruce to prioritize her time and focus on academics, an area in which she also excels.  Her GPA, she says, is 4.127.

"If I'm busy, I know exactly what I have at what time.  So I know when I need to be doing homework or when I need to be practicing," Bruce said.

Bruce said she has never bowled a perfect game (300) and eight straight strikes mark her personal best.  Bowlers need twelve strikes in a row to achieve that much sought-after perfect game.  Her vision is for girls bowling, a KHSAA-sanctioned sport that Beechwood has offered since 2012, to continue growing so the Tigers can attract more bowlers and win a team championship as well.

"Yes," she said.  That's the goal.

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