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State Bowling Champion: Rileigh Schillinger

East’s first state champion since 2011

Imagine yourself slowly advancing through the bracket, each placement carrying with it a great sense of honor. As you soak in the atmosphere, the sound of the bowling pin machine resetting fills the air, the movement of bowling balls gliding across the polished wooden floor. Suddenly, ‘strike!’ through the bowling alley. What follows next is clear, Rileigh Schillinger has been crowned the girl’s bowling state champion of the year.
Schillinger’s state victory is an accomplishment to say the least, East High School hasn’t won a state title since 2012. With her being home the title of state champ, the following is a transcript of a Q&A with Schillinger, about her bowling journey, the moment of the victory, and much more.

What got you into bowling?
It runs in the family, both sides. So, I started when I was like six. I wasn’t really into it, so I took a break and my dad decided to put me back in it at 10. I started with no bumpers, just full on started and ever since then, I just loved it and I’d do it everyday.

What do you think is the biggest misconception when it comes to competitive bowling?
I think the biggest thing is that people think it’s dumb, like it’s not important or it’s easy. But people don’t realize there’s so much technique behind bowling. It’s difficult when talking to people that don’t know about bowling.

How did you feel when you won, did you think you would ever get to that point?
I did not think I was going to win. My sophomore year, I missed (state) by four pins, so this year, my goal was just to make state. I made state, so I was going in happy. Like I didn’t care how I bowled because I made state, that was my goal. Then I made top eight, then I got to the top two, but I wasn’t worked up. I wasn’t nervous. I was just throwing the ball because second was awesome, too. And then the moment where she missed the spare, it was my opening. And then I started getting nervous and then I won. I was in shock. I didn’t know what to say. There were no emotions, I was just standing there, stuck, and everyone was cheering and I was still stuck. I like I had to keep looking at the score. I didn’t comprehend it until like two days after that I won. That was crazy.

What do you think has been the most challenging part with your whole bowling journey to this point?
The mental game of bowling, there’s a technical aspect to bowling. And then there’s a mental game of bowling and the mental game to bowling is what’s going to destroy you. Sophomore year, it was my mental game. I was getting everybody else’s game in my head and I was overthinking everything. So, I was throwing the ball bad. I wasn’t picking up my spirits, which is very important. And so, the mental game is a big thing that I’ve been working on and this year I got better, like really good at it in that state. I wasn’t watching anybody else. I was focusing on myself.
What has gotten you motivated to keep getting better and keep playing, to overcome that mental game?
It runs in the family and I want to keep that tradition on. It’s very important to me, to see my dad happy just makes me smile to see me bowl. If you win or if you play and like if you’re good, colleges offer you scholarship like even full rides sometimes. So it’s like a really big and I enjoy it. Like if I’m having a bad day, bowling will always fix my mood. It’s good, my family and college. My goal is to make it to college and get a scholarship. So that’s why I keep going and keep practicing.

What’s next for you for this upcoming 2024-2025 season?
Of course, keep bowling. Keep practicing every day. Hopefully be a double back champion. Go to nationals for youth. Everyone from the United States goes to Detroit this year. So I’m going to still be practicing every day.

To anybody who wants to start bowling, what would you want to say to them?
Just keep trying it. It gets frustrating and you want to give up, and sometimes it could be boring. But like, once you get good, it’s not boring. So just keep going and keep trying and work on your mental game before you work on your technical game and just keep going. As long as you keep doing it, you’ll get better, it takes time. Bowling is a sport that you have to practice. You have to. If I take a week off, I’m terrible when I get back. So, like you have to keep going.

Are there any other activities hobbies outside of bowling that you do?
Not really, bowling takes up a lot of my time. In the summer, it’s just working on bowling. So, I don’t really have time for anything else, but I did used to do volleyball, but then I got tennis elbow, so I had to quit. My second home is a bowling alley.

Is there anything else you would like to?
We need girls next year, and boys too, so you if anyone’s interested, join.

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