(WAFF) - Bowling will become the newest championship sport offered by the Alabama High School Athletic Association, beginning with the upcoming 2015-16 school year.
The state championship tournament is scheduled for Jan. 29-30, 2016.
The Central Board of Control is expected to approve Pelham's Oak Mountain Lanes as the host for the first state bowling championship at its July meeting. Two regional tournament sites at Tuscaloosa and Foley are also expected to be approved.
A total of 43 schools fielded bowling teams last season. Already, that number has grown to 78 based on school sports declarations received for next season, according to Denise Ainsworth, the AHSAA assistant director responsible for the sport of bowling.
"We think that number will grow even larger before the season gets underway," she said.
Schools participated in regular-season play only last school year. Ainsworth said the format for the 2015-16 inaugural season will include two regional bowling tournaments at the Gulf Bowl in Foley and Leland Lanes in Tuscaloosa, with qualifiers advancing to the state tournament at Oak Mountain Lanes.
The South Regional at Foley will be Jan. 20-21, and the North Regional at Tuscaloosa is set for Jan. 21-22.
The sport will include a championship for girls and for boys in a combined Class 1A-7A. Schools fielding only a coed team will compete in the boys' division.
The first day allowed for practice is Oct. 5, with the first date for a contest set for Oct. 26.
Varsity teams will be limited to 18 dates and five regular season tournaments. Middle and junior high school teams will be allowed a maximum 12 regular-season play dates and two regular-season tournaments.
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