DES MOINES —
Ottumwa bowling coach Brett Salter has always been attuned to the energy that fills the air at the Class 2A state bowling tournament.
The problem has been getting his boys to harness that energy and use it to their advantage. On Tuesday, however, his boys soaked up every ounce of it like a sponge and unleashed it on their competition at the Plaza Lanes.
“This tournament brings so much energy itself, and we’ve never been in the flow of that energy in all the years I've coached and today we were,” Salter said. “And it was fun being on that side of the fence.”
Ottumwa finished second overall with a score of 3,361.
“I just know that we did the best we could out there today,” Braxton Coble said. “I think momentum had a big part in this. Also, luck, we had a couple of ones we shouldn't have had.”
In bowling, where strikes are as vital as air to tires, the boys were never in need of reinflation. Their collective energy was palpable, as the Bulldogs liberally doled out high-fives, loud cheers and words of encouragement with every strike and spare they rolled.
“It was the best meet we’ve had all year,” Coble said. “We had a blast.”
Ottumwa's final tally was bolstered by Coble, who medaled with a team-best average of 239 and placed eighth overall. Anthony Roberts, who punctuated many of his strikes in his last day in a Bulldog jersey with his trademark “lets go” cheer, followed him in ninth with a 238 average.
Although the girls weren’t able to repeat as state champs, they still managed to garner a second-place finish with an overall score of 2,055.
“I don’t think many of us were nervous, just kind of pre-game jitters,” Bailey Palmer said.
“We were pretty loose and relaxed,” Cybil Lennie added. “We’ve been practicing a lot like we we're going to bowl up here. It was pretty calm for us, we were ready.
“I think we bowled really well today. We were really comfortable and we were really proud of each other.”
Waterloo West took first overall with a score of 2,199.
Palmer capped off her impressive freshman season by posting a 225 average, which turned out to be the fifth best individual girl score at the tournament.
“I could have done a little better,” Palmer said. “The beginning was kind of slow but I got better.”
While Palmer wore a business-like expression when she picked up spares — it’s only a spare after all — she allowed herself to become a little more animated after strikes. She celebrated one strike with a fist pump, while celebrating another with a muscle pose (Lennie also struck a muscle pose after a couple strikes.)
Lennie tied for ninth; rolling an average of 219.
“I thought they did very well,” assistant girls coach Tom Maher, who filled in for head coach Doug Techel, said about his team. “We missed a lot of singles today. That has kind of been the way the team has been all year. They can throw strikes with anyone in the state, but at times, they don't shoot their spares well.”
The second place finish gives the Bulldogs extra incentive to reclaim their spot at the top of the bowling chain next season.
“It’s [the championship trophy] coming home next year,” Palmer said.
Payton Wilbanks rolled an average of 205, Sydney Swallow finished with a 190.5 average and Lynissa Lasley rolled a 188 average. In addition, Michaela Malloy bowled a 179 average.
Aside from failing to pick up a few spares, none of the girls suffered from a lack of strikes or spares.
“We all thoughT anywhere around a 2,975 would be pretty close to win,” Maher said. “I’m happy with the score. We only lose Michaela [Malloy] and we have everyone else returning next year, so the girls should be there to be contended with again.”
For the boys, Austin Palmer and Joey Lee rolled a 223.5 average. Plus, Isaac Goodman, in his last tourney as a Bulldog, bowled a 208.5 average and Jordan Mitchell rolled a 198.5 average.
Roberts, who competed with his normal brand of enthusiasm, was visibly choked up after his last tourney appearance.
“I came out here and did it for my team,” he said. “I put all my heart and soul in this team. These guys are family. We’re all best friends. We’d rather have fun with everything we’re doing, rather than taking everything so seriously.
“I’ve coached them [Goodman and Roberts] for five years, they started as eighth graders before we were sanctioned, and we’ll definitely miss them,” Salter said. “I’m happy for them; this is the highest we’ve ever finished, and that they were on this team is good.”
Class 2A State Bowling Tournament
At Plaza Lanes, Des Moines
Tuesday, March 12
Boys team scores: 1. Davenport North 3,663; 2. Ottumwa 3,361; 3. Cedar Rapids Washington 3,260; 4. Linn-Mar., Marion 3,242; 5. Dubuque Hempstead 3,127; 6. Des Moines Lincoln 3,048; 7. Johnston 3,042; 8. Ankeny 3,018; 9. Marshalltown 3,016; 10. Council Bluffs Abe Lincoln 2,842.
Top 10 Individual boys scores: 1. Zach Fries (Davenport North) 277.5, 2. Bryan Cline (Cedar Rapids Washington) 251.5, 3. Austin Wulf (Davenport North) 250, 4. Garrett Schaeffer (Ankeny) 248.5, 5. Austin LaMaack (Davenport North) 244, 6. Adam Morse (Des Moines Valley) 242, T7. Phil Breitbach (Dubuque Hempstead) 239.5, Jared Erickson (Johnston) 239.5, Nick Blood (Prairie Cedar Rapids) 239.5, 8. Braxton Coble (239).
Ottumwa Individuals: 8. Coble 239, 9. Anthony Roberts 138, T20. Austin Palmer 223.5, Joey Lee 223.5, 27. Isaac Goodman 208.5, T31. Jordan Mitchell 198.5.
Girls team scores: 1. Waterloo West 2,199; 2. Ottumwa 2,055; 3. Davenport West 1,996; 4. Muscatine 1,987; 5. Des Moines Lincoln 1,974; 6. Cedar Rapids Jefferson 1,949; 7. Mason City 1,863; 8. Cedar Rapids Washington 1,835; 8. Fort Dodge 1,781; 9. Sioux City North 1,490.
Top 10 Individual Girls: 1. Alexus Wilson (Waterloo West) 251.5; 2. Brittany Smith (Des Moines Lincoln) 237; 3. Nicole Petersen (Cedar Rapids Jefferson) 230.5; 4. Rebecca Broerman (Mason City) 226.5; 5. Bailey Palmer (Ottumwa) 225; 6. Amanda Widermeier (Cedar Rapids Kennedy) 224; 7. Lindsey Entsminger (Davenport West) 222; 8. Candace Newman (Waterloo West) 219; 9. Cybil Lennie (Ottumwa) 219.
Ottumwa Individuals: 5. Palmer 225, T9. Lennie 219, 17. Payton Wilbanks 205, 23. Sydney Swallow 190.5, 26. Lynissa Lasley 188, 34. Michaela Malloy 179.