Manheim Township's Drew Jaquith, left, and Hempfield's Derick Keller earned berths in the Pennsylvania State High School Bowling Championships after finishing in the top eight at the Eastern Pennsylvania Regional Championships on Saturday, March 13, 2021, at Leisure Lanes. Jaquith placed sixth and Keller fifth.

Derick Keller and Drew Jaquith were in a good position, but they had to wait and see what bowlers from outside of District Three would do Saturday at Leisure Lanes.

Jaquith and Keller both maintained top-eight spots at the Eastern Pennsylvania Regional Championships, but they saw some of those other bowlers roar through the modified bracket finals to finish first and second.

Jaquith, a Manheim Township senior, was third after Friday’s group of district bowlers qualified and finished sixth overall, while Keller, a freshman at Hempfield, went from No. 4 to fifth. Pottsgrove’s David Swavely moved past Keller into fourth and went on to earn the regional crown with a 233-208 win over Pennsbury’s Vincent Briehn in the bracket final.

Briehn needed to win three games after qualifying seventh, and included a 256-244 win over Jaquith in the quarterfinals. With his No. 4 qualifying finish, Swavely got a bye into the quarterfinals, where he knocked out Keller 220-195.

Keller then beat Jaquith 251-179 in the fifth-place match.

“To be honest, I didn’t really care where I finished. I just wanted to make it to states,” Keller said. “Overall, I’m really happy with my performance.”

Keller won his opening match 238-202 over No. 8 qualifier Trey Wagner of Midd-West.

“He had three matches today and he won two out of three,” Hempfield coach Tom Degnan said. “And he held on to the fifth spot, which is a pretty big accomplishment considering the talent level here.”

“I put the pressure on him. I had a really great game,” Jaquith said of his match with Briehn. “I’m just really positive right now.”

“He bowled well all weekend,” said Manheim Township coach Chris Jensen, who noted that Jaquith sweats a lot during his matches and has been affected more by wearing a mask than some other bowlers. “It’s just hard on some of them.”

Swavely made his way into the final by surprising No. 1 qualifier Ayden Davis of Antietam 235-193. Biehn backed up his win over Jaquith with a 267-219 shocker against District Three champion Alex Horton of Daniel Boone. Davis and Horton got byes into the semifinals.

Both Jaquith and Keller had a few anxious moments during the day Saturday as they viewed results posted online. While they knew what their final total was, the results included each bowler’s totals after each of the five qualifying games. After two games, for example, Keller was 11th and Jaquith 24th. But in the end, both ended up in the top eight.

Next for Keller and Jaquith is the Pennsylvania State High School Championships, with the singles on Friday. The event will be held at North Versailles Bowl in East Pittsburgh.

“I hope to do well,” Keller said. “I’m just glad I made it.”

“Obviously, I don’t need to teach him how to bowl,” Degnan said. “I just need to help him with controlling his emotions.”

“I’m really happy that I’m going to states with a lot of these guys I’ve grown up with,” Jaquith said. “And we’re going to show them what the East has to offer. I’m really excited for that.

“If I place well, it will make me really happy; if I don’t place well, I’ll be happy that I made it there.”

The state team tournament is Saturday, but no Lancaster-Lebanon League team advanced.

Elizabethtown and Cedar Crest stood second and third after last weekend’s first day of qualifying among District Three teams, but were knocked out the next day.

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