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2017 has been a very good year for Rachael Ritzinger on the bowling lanes.
A 2012 graduate of Stow-Munroe Falls High School, Ritzinger returned to her alma mater this winter and coached the Bulldog girls bowling team to its first Division I state championship.
Then last week, Ritzinger got a chance to roll with the professionals.
Bowling as an amateur, Ritzinger competed at the Professional Women's Bowling Association's Greater Detroit Open, which took place at Super Bowl in Canton, Mich.
While she was unable to finish in the money, it was an experience she won't soon forget.
"I was a little nervous at first," Ritzinger said. "Once I got there, I saw how many girls I recognized from college, so that made it a bit more comfortable. I think this is the next step for a lot of girls. It's the same oil pattern type we had in college.
Ritzinger graduated from Notre Dame College in South Euclid in February. She brought her college coach, Corby Anderson, along with her family, with her to Michigan.
"I think my biggest goal was just to make the first cashier's round," Ritzinger said, which would ensure her a payday of $1,200. "I didn't set that big a goal for myself, just because it was my first one."
To reach the cashier's round, Ritzinger needed to finish in the top 32 in a field of 107 bowlers. To do so, she had to roll 12 games of bowling through two qualifying rounds June 16.
"I used to bowl that much in college, " Ritzinger said. "Jumping back into it after not bowling for a year was kind of tough."
Ritzinger seemed to pick up steam at the end of the first qualifying round, bowling 209, 209 and 215 in her last three games of the afternoon session. She finished the first round of qualifying with a score of 1,141.
In the second qualifying session, Ritzinger rolled her best game of the day in third game (239), but was unable to break 200 for the rest of the session.
Ritzinger admitted she had a dead arm by the end of the qualifying rounds.
"I was completely worn out," said.
In the end, Ritzinger finished 89th in qualifying rounds. Ritzinger finished with 2,218 pins for an average of 184.83 pins per game.
"I was kind of disappointed that I didn't finish higher than I did," Ritzinger said. "My average showed I didn't bowl that badly. I think it was good for my first time out. It's nothing to hang my head about."
Vertity Crawley of England and Diandra Ashbaty of Chicago won the match-play portion of the tournament. They advanced to the television finals, along with Juliana Franco of Columbia and Daria Pajak of Poland, who advanced via the group stepladder finals.
The television finals of the event were set to take place June 25 and will be aired July 18 at 8 p.m. on the CBS Sports Network.
Ritzinger made it clear she believes her pro career is just getting started. She had hoped to compete at the Nationwide PBWA Rochester Open in Rochester, N.Y., in July, but said she probably won't be able to.
Ritzinger noted she plans to attend the PWBA Columbus Open next July at Wayne Webb's Columbus Bowl, which was same site where she coached Stow to the state title.
"Hopefully, it's good luck," She said.
"In the next five or so years, I'd like to get my PWBA tour card," Ritzinger added. "I don't have time for it right now, but it's definitely something I want to go for."