By ANDY HEINTZ
Courier sports writer
---- — OTTUMWA — The Ottumwa bowling teams started their respective seasons on a positive note by winning their season-opening duals at home against Dowling at Champion Bowl.
The girls, who were spearheaded by Bailey Palmer, Sydney Swallow and Cybil Lennie, defeated the Maroons 2,815-2,055. Palmer was at the vanguard of the Bulldogs' success, rolling an average of 199, but Swallow and Lennie followed closely behind her with similar averages: Swallow bowled a 198 and Lennie a 197.
I've been practicing all year and it's a different atmosphere," Palmer said about the first meet. "The atmosphere was a lot different. More intense, I'd say."
Still, the Bulldogs talented sophomore prodigy was pleased with her team's debut.
"For the first meet, we did really good," Palmer said. "We need to improve though, we have a lot to improve on before state."
Meanwhile, Joey Lee served as the boys' bellwether leader, rolling a 230 average to help Ottumwa top Dowling 2,170-1,826.
"We had good scores individually," Ottumwa boys coach Brett Salter said, "our Baker round was not the best, but overall it was a pretty good start. "We're only in our third week of practice and it's tough and early to tell. But, you know, what encourages me is we had three guys on JV bowling really well, too. Our varsity squad isn't set by any means where it's at.
"It's going to be a year of progress, getting better all year for us."
"Everyone bowled really good, we had a couple low scores, but other than that everyone did really good," Joey Lee added.
Aside from Lee's auspicious start to the season, Braxton Coble bowled a 223 average and Austin Palmer and Kolten Fountain, in his varsity debut, each rolled a 220 average. In addition, Ryan Hagist bowled a 193 average and Jordan Mitchell rolled an average of 177.
"Having a solid four is always key," Lee said. "Our fifth and sixth bowled really well today. Bakers we need to work on, but other than that, everything was all right.
"I feel like we got off to a good start," Coble added. "We passed our goal that we set for this week — our goal was 2,900 and we got 3,021 — so it felt really good getting over what we wanted.
"Individually we threw what we wanted to and where we wanted to, but our bakers show we have a weakness right now. We can't seem to put stuff together during those times as a team."
For Fountain, his first varsity bowling meet was an enjoyable experience.
"It was pretty great," he said, "There is some stuff I need to work on."
Some of the "stuff" Fountain alluded to includes adjusting to oil patterns and learning to take a more relaxed approach to the game.
Other Bulldog girls scores include Cheyanne Starr 186, Kourtney Longaker 171 and Ashley Schooley 147.
"I think we did pretty well," Ottumwa girls' coach Doug Techel said. "We beat our target score (2,750), which is always good. We shot a 2,800, which will be OK for a regular year, but it won't be very good for state or substate. We have a long ways to go.
"They did pretty well on their spare shooting, which is always a concern. But they didn't throw many strikes for it being at home. But if you're asking for the positive, our spare shooting wasn't too bad today, which is encouraging because the strikes will come. This team is pretty talented and usually we're harping about not picking up spares, and today they did pretty good at that."
Techel noted that some of his bowlers had no previous experience playing at the varsity level.
"We had three girls who had their first varsity meet: Longaker, Starr and Schooley," the coach said. "I know they were nervous, but then they settled down a little bit and bowled better."
Both Bulldog teams will compete in a triangular against Mount Pleasant and Burlington at 2:30 p.m. Thursday at Champion Bowl.
Ottumwa vs. Dowling
At Champion Bowl, Ottumwa
Team Scores: Ottumwa 2,815, Dowling 2,055
Ottumwa Individuals: Bailey Palmer 199, Sydney Swallow 198, Cybil Lennie 197, Cheyanne Starr 186, Kourtney Longaker 171, Ashley Schooley 147.
Girls Junior Varsity
Team Scores: Ottumwa 2,202, Dowling 1,669
Ottumwa Individuals: Courtney Smith 149.1, Taisha Wilbanks 138.1, Payton Wilbanks 180, Lynissa Lasley 191, Shantel Hoover 108.5, Kaelen Whitlow 102.
Team Scores: Ottumwa 3,021, Dowling 2,609
Ottumwa Individuals: Joey Lee 230, Kolten Fountain 220, Braxton Coble 223, Jordan Mitchell 177, Austin Palmer 220, Ryan Hagist 193
Boys Junior Varsity
Team Scores: Ottumwa 2,751, Dowling 1,959
Ottumwa Individuals: Joey Hartley 227, Tyler Cramblit 191, Seth Meinders 175, Shayne Wolfley 175, David Weeks 168, James Gardner 144.