Positive approach paying big dividends on the lanes for Charlotte's Savannah Portillo

Savannah Portillo

Savannah Portillo has spent the last several years competing in bowling alleys across the country.

There’s been trips to New Jersey, Iowa, Illinois and many other destinations and an upcoming trip to Las Vegas for the Charlotte High School freshman as she’s tested herself against other talented youth bowlers.

And those experiences have been beneficial for the 13-year-old Portillo in her debut season of varsity bowling.

Portillo has put together a strong season and been one of the top bowlers for Charlotte. One of the biggest moments for Portillo came Sunday when she finished as the CAAC girls singles champion. Portillo captured the title by rolling games of 279 and 190 to beat defending champion Alissa VanHorn of Holt in the match play final.

“She threw the ball really well,” Charlotte coach Pat Landry said. “She struggled one game but she bounced back and just made a lot of spares and threw a lot of strikes. She stayed focused and stayed within her game.”

Portillo, who was voted the LSJ high school of the week winner, also was the top bowler during individual qualifying. She had games of 200, 231, 192, 136, 188 and 201 during the six-game qualifying block to finish 17 pins better than teammate Lori Jackson. Portillo then was strong during match play, winning her opening match by three pins over Holt’s Lola Knox before posting a 434-332 win over Mason’s Avery Beach in the semifinal. She won the title match by 52 pins over VanHorn.

Portillo still can’t wrap her head around winning the tournament but credits a positive approach for helping her thrive this season.

“(It’s all about) keeping positive,” Portillo said. “Especially going across the country — I watch kids be high qualifier and then they lose the minute they get into a stressful situation because they can’t focus and they get down on themselves. They throw one bad shot and they get worried. I knew if I just stayed positive throughout the day and just bowled that I could do it. I had a game of 136 and for me that’s terrible. I still stayed positive.”

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Portillo hopes to build off her CAAC singles title and help the Orioles have success in the state tournament.

With her extensive bowling background, Landry knows Portillo will be prepared for whatever comes her way.

“Her experience in youth bowling and in all different types of individuals tournaments just lends so well to her game,” Landry said. “She works hard at it. Outside of our practice, she practices with a personal coach. She definitely puts the time in.”

Contact Brian Calloway at bcalloway@lsj.com. Follow him on Twitter @brian_calloway.

This article originally appeared on Lansing State Journal: High school bowling: Freshman Savannah Portillo shining for Charlotte