When many people picture high school athletes getting ready to go to the state tournament, they picture kids with pads and helmets, kleats or track spikes, but not bowling balls.
Two Bremerton area high school teams are putting people on notice, letting everyone know that bowling can be exciting.
Students from both Bremerton and Olympic high schools bowled in the West Central District competition last Saturday and both qualified for the State Tournament this coming weekend.
But it wasn’t easy for either team. Olympic was on the bubble all day.
The district tournament consists of two sections: three regular games, in which each of a team’s five players bowl a full game; and 4 baker games, in which each of the five players bowls two frames to make one complete 10-frame game.
When the baker games started, Olympic sat in fifth place with a score of 2425, just six points behind Everett. The top four teams in the 2A/3A division would advance to State, and Everett stood in the Trojans’ way.
To add to the excitement, the two teams bowled in adjacent lanes — the top two individual bowlers in the 2A/3A category, Everett’s Candice Goldfinch and Olympic’s Kendra Willis, led their teams in a battle where every single pin was crucial.
Goldfinch finished with more pins in the regular gmes than Willis, averaging 218 to Willis’s 198, but she couldn’t hold off Olympic’s play in the baker games. In the end, the Trojans overcame Everett by a narrow ten pin margin, 3025 to 3015.
“We were the underdog,” said Olympic coach Lee Morris. “I would think that probably on a normal bowling day, we probably would have come in seventh, maybe sixth, but on that day … they bowled phenomenal.”
Olympic’s Kendra Willis finished the competition with the second highest individual total in the three regular games. She struck out at the end of the tournament (which unlike baseball, is a good thing) giving the Trojans their 10 point lead and helping stamp their ticket to State.
While Olympic battled to stay alive, Bremerton was in a fight of its own with Timberline.
The Knights went undefeated during the regular season, cruising to a Narrows League victory, but on Saturday they found themselves matched up to an opponent that wouldn’t back down. At the end of the three regular games, Timberline held the slightest edge against Bremerton, a five point lead.
“Being undefeated this year, we had to set our own goals early on to keep pushing ourselves,” said Bremerton coach Dean Wagner.
Wagner said those goals were to achieve a team score of 800 for regular games and 170 for each baker game.
The first and second place teams were matched up as lane partners, bringing an early preview of possibilities for the state tournament.
“That was good for us to be against the best other team there, and we battled them all day long,” Wagner said.
Despite meeting their goals in both regular and baker games, the Knights were unable to topple Timberline.
“That’s why we said we did our job,” Wagner said. “(Timberline) earned it, cause my girls, they shot really well this weekend.”
Wagner’s team had to deal with an injury part-way through the tournament, when Natalie Stauffer tweaked her left knee. Sabrina Tucker came in for the injured Stauffer, helping the Knights maintain their qualifying position.
Stauffer and Tucker will join teammates Lexus Honeywell, Helaina Hilligoss, Megan Wittenberg, Abby King and Samantha Jose at State.
The State Tournament will consist of six regular games and 14 baker games, more than double the number of frames bowled in the District Tournament.
Hilligoss said part of the secret to their success is team chemistry.
“We get along a lot better than previous years,” Hilligoss said. “We work together not only in bowling, but we work together as friends. We’ve been bowling together for years.”
Several members of the Bremerton squad bowl together outside of school. Wittenberg, King and Hilligoss have competed in a Saturday league. King and Hilligoss have been bowling together for six years.
Bremerton and Olympic will have strong competition, like Timberline, to contend with; but as Olympic’s coach Morris said of the District meet, anything can happen.
“We’ll be tough competitors,” King said. “We’re going to put our best foot forward. Even if we don’t place first or second I know we’ll be in there.”
And there’s one thing King said the Knights would like to see at the State Tournament: supporters.
The State Tournament will take place Feb. 1-2, at Narrows Plaza Bowl in University Place.
West Central District Bowling
Team — Curtis 3,555, Puyallup 3117, Cascade 3,043, Emerald Ridge 2,908, Graham-Kapowsin 2,854, Central Kitsap 2,705, Stadium 2,678.
Individuals — 1, Molly Lorfeld, Curtis, 619; 2, Kayla Zaber, Cascade, 588; 3, Elisa Couch, Emerald Ridge, 573; 4, Sheri Hill, Curtis, 569; 5, Sarah Layton, South Kitsap, 547; 6, Katie Alstead, Emerald Ridge, 543; 7, Emily Menefee, Graham-Kapowsin, 541; 8, Alyssa Feller, Rogers, 534; 9, Kayla Harrell, Puyallup, 533; 10, Autumn Reid, Curtis, 531. Also qualifying: Miranda Parrish, South Kitsap, 517; Morgan Stout, Central Kitsap, 482; Gwen Johnson, Central Kitsap, 467.
Team — Timberline 3,348, Bremerton 3,274, Wilson 3,072, Olympic 3,025, Everett 3015, Klahowya 2921, Shelton 2883, Mount Tahoma 2507.
Individuals — 1, Candice Goldfinch, Everett 656; 2, Kendra Willis, Olympic, 595; 3, Helaina Hlligoss, Bremerton, 582; 4, Brooke Collins, Timberline, 557; 5, Bernadine Dale, Timberline, 554; 6, Abby King, Bremerton, 546; 7, Brittan Rahlston, Everett, 545; 8, Lindsey Cox, Shelton, 537; 9, Miranda Bailey, Klahowya , 537; 10, Megan Wittenberg, Bremerton, 531. Also qualifying: Jessie Tone, Klahowya, 505.