It's amazing what an equipment change can do, especially if you're a bowler.
Just ask Aaron Ebbert.
The St. John senior traded in his old ball for a new one prior to the sectional tournament two weeks ago and, as a result, he finds himself competing in Friday's Ohio Division II state championships.
''After I got that ball I started bowling better,'' Ebbert said during a break in practice Wednesday afternoon at St. Clair Lanes. ''I immediately started to show signs of improvement.''
Ebbert will be one of 16 bowlers competing as individuals at Wayne Webb's Columbus Bowl and the first St. John competitor in school history to reach state. Action begins at 10:30 a.m.
''I'm definitely excited I get one more shot to represent St. John in a bowling uniform,'' he said.
Other individual qualifiers competing are - Leo Wells (Buckeye Valley), Ryan O'Harra (Bishop Ready), Tristen Rose (Grandview Heights), Chase Holdren (Zane Trace), Mark McCloskey (Maplewood), Matt Lyons (Crestwood), Logan Meinecke (Benedictine), Jacob Yoder (Triway), Tyler Lange (Liberty Center), Mason Robinson (Rossford), Jarrett Beck (Napoleon), Phil Davis (West Liberty-Salem), Korey Arvin (Mechanicsburg), Michael Bohman (Russia) and JT Campbell (Springfield Northwestern).
''We're really proud of Aaron,'' said Gary Holubeck, St. John's head coach and St. Clair Lanes proprietor. ''He's a good all-around athlete and he's very coachable.
''He's very consistent and that's what you want to see in bowling.''
Ebbert earned his state berth by virtue of his 681 showing at last week's district event in Zanesville. That score followed a 602 score posted at the sectional tournament in St. Clairsville the week before.
Those are the only two 600-plus scores Ebbert's posted in competition.
Now, while Holubeck said Ebbert's new ball is one of the reason's for his surge, part of it can also be attributed to an improved mental outlook.
''He's matured a lot, too,'' Holubeck said. ''He's really been on a roll. His timing, his footwork and his mental outlook are better. He's improved so much.
Holubeck said Ebbert is now more focused on his individual game as opposed to what others are doing.
''I tell him to just bowl his best,'' Holubeck said. ''If you leave a spare, just pick it up.
''Now, he's more concerned about his own games and I tell him that's the best way to be.''
Ebbert's appearance in the state tournament is truly a testament to the adage, ''hard work pays off.''
He began bowling with the Irish his sophomore year and struggled initially.
''I needed a lot of work, to say the least,'' said Ebbert, who noted he had previously bowled mostly as recreation.
''I wasn't the best and I'm still not the best. It's gotten better.''
Only through plenty of of hard work, according to Holubeck.
''He doesn't take summers off,'' he said. ''He works really hard in the summer. You have to want to come into the (bowling) center in the summer to get better. You just can't pick it up at the start of the season and get to where you want to be.''
Holubeck said Ebbert didn't bowl much during cross country season, but once the running season ended he exchanged his running shoes for his bowling shoes and got right to work.
''He's certainly peaking at the right time,'' he said.
Ebbert knew the chance was there he could make state, but the fact he did it took a while to sink in.
''I thought if I had a good day I had a chance at making it,'' he said. ''Bowling is one of those sports that's very humbling because you can be a great bowler and have a bad day, or you can be a be a bad bowler and have a great day.''
No matter how Friday turns out, Ebbert is pleased he'll be able to end his bowling career facing the best competition.
''This season has really been better than I expected,'' he said. ''If I do horrible I won't hang my head because my teammates and I had a great season.
''I'm just going to go out and have fun.''
Thorp can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org