Oh so close.
In the end, a mere half-point separated the Sunset Country men’s team from a bronze medal at the Youth Challenge provincial roll-offs held Saturday in Thunder Bay.
For the Sunset Country mixed team, the gap between winning a medal was just one point.
Sunset Country wound up finishing in fifth place in the men’s division with 18 points following the five-game showdown against the five other zones across Northern Ontario.
Nickel District (Sudbury) ran away with the gold medal by compiling 36 points, with host Thunder Bay taking second (25.5).
But the battle for third place was a nail-biter as Gold Belt (Timmins) ended up with 18.5 points to capture the bronze medal.
Gateway (North Bay) also finished with 18 points but was awarded fourth place over Sunset Country.
Cambrian North (Sudbury) was last with four points.
Daniel Blake of Kenora started strong for Sunset Country, rolling games of 292, 212, and 249 before dropping off with scores of 188 and 168.
Blake wound up finishing 10th overall among the men with a 221.8 average.
Cole Trimble of Fort Frances was the lone team member to capture all five of his points, finishing with a 201.4 average after games of 247, 230, 180, 166, and 184.
Dryden bowlers Walker Hazlewood (200.8 average), Marcel Boyer (174.6), and Nick Miner (168.4) rounded out the quintet.
The coach was Terry DeLaronde of Dryden.
It also came down to the last game in the mixed division, where Sunset Country ended up settling for fourth place with 21 points.
Nickel District once again claimed gold with 29 points, followed by Cambrian North (24) and Thunder Bay (22).
Gateway (16) and Gold Belt (eight) rounded out the division.
David Ehmann-Lira of Kenora led Sunset Country with a 193.8 average over the five games.
Jacob Patterson of Dryden averaged 173.4 but managed to garner all five of his points for the team.
The rest of the quintet included Jonelle Haas of Fort Frances (156.6), along with Dryden bowlers Seth Carter (182.8) and Angel Braden (139.8).
The coach was Caitlyn Townson of Fort Frances.
In the women’s division, meanwhile, Sunset Country finished in sixth place with 15 points–just three out of the bronze-medal position.
Thunder Bay won the gold medal with 33 points, followed by Cambrian North (21).
Gold Belt was awarded third place over Gateway after both squads finished with 18 points.
Nickel District tied Sunset Country with 15 points but was awarded fifth place.
Alyssa Hazlewood of Dryden was the top bowler on the team–garnering a 200.4 average that wound up as sixth overall among the women.
Rowan Brownlee of Dryden averaged 193.6 in taking all five of her points on the day.
The rest of the team included Asyia Shields of Fort Frances (159.6), Asiah Wesley of Dryden (134.0), and Aireal Olford of Kenora (125.4).
The coach was Sharon Troilo of Kenora, with Jenn Rollins of Dryden serving as the contingent manager.
Thunder Bay wound up capturing first place in the Aggregate standings with 45 points, just edging out Cambrian North (44).
Nickel District was third at 41, followed by Gateway (30), Sunset Country (16), and Gold Belt (15).
In related news, the top three men and top three women overall will represent Northern Ontario at the national roll-offs.
They included Scott Burns of Cambrian North (252.0 average), Liam Smith of Gateway (246.0), Kyle Beaulieu of Nickel District (244.4), Isabelle Rodrigue of Cambrian North (240.0), Felicity Echensviller of Gateway (238.4), and Ashley Baccari of Thunder Bay (225.4).
As well, Northern Ontario will be sending two teams to compete in bowling at the upcoming Ontario Winter Games.
Team #1, featuring the top three men and top two women, includes Burns, Smith, Beaulieu, Rodrigue, and Echensviller.
Team #2, comprised of the next three men and two women, features Baccari, along with Paige Hadley of Thunder Bay (220.0), Joseph Phillips of Nickel District (238.8), Mattias McKinnon of Thunder Bay (237.2), and Cory Depatie of Nickel District (234.4).