Courier Staff Writer
The Ottumwa bowling teams will be hard-pressed to outdo their performances last season. But given the reputation of the acclaimed program, the girls and boys that adorn the Ottumwa jerseys this season will do everything in their power to carry on the Bulldogs tradition-rich legacy.
The girls squad added another accomplishment to the heralded program’s already storied history by capturing the Bulldogs third IGHSAU state title last. And with all but one player returning the squad, the girls should be primed to make a run at a fourth state title.
Meanwhile,the boys amassed an impressive number of victories themselves last season, including going 11-0 in duals, taking first at the CIML conference meet and at districts. In addition, the boys captured third place at state. Coach Brett Salter said his team should be OK this season but, because of losing some key bowlers — Tyler Ollum and Alan Brady — they probably will not be able to achieve the same level of success as last season.
“Every year you lose kids that are hard to replace ... It’s just a growing process,” the coach said. “We’re going to have meets where we will be OK and we will have meets where we struggle.”
Both teams will take on West Dowling Catholic Des Moines Monday at Val Lanes in Des Moines.
Aside from Ali Salter — who played a key role in last year’s squad’s success — all the girls from the state championship team will be back.
“We’ve got probably the deepest team we’ve had on the girls’ side,” coach Doug Techel said. One through ten, the coach said his team is pretty strong.
Michaela Maloy will try to pick up where she left off last season. Maloy had a terrific season, which included taking second at state with a score of 676. She rolled the best score of any individual top 10 bowler in the third round of state, which allowed her to ascend to second place.
Sierra Lennie came up big for the Bulldogs at districts; she rolled the top district score of 392. Payton Wilbanks, Sydney Swallow, Lynissa Lasley and Cybil Lennie also played roles in the Bulldogs success.
Unfortunately, Cybil and Sierra Lennie, who are cousins, will miss the first three meets because of a violation of school rules. Maloy, Wilbanks, Swallow, Sadie Shaw and freshman Bailey Palmer will start on varsity in the opening meet, but the sixth starting spot is still up for grabs, Techel said. In addition, sophomores Kourtney Longaker and Cheyenne Starr might see some varsity action this season.
“I think it’s important for us to go out and be very consistent,” Techel said. “I think throughout the season it’s important to cut out our misses and pick up our spares.”
The girls responded positively whenever they faced adversity last season. They bounced back from an early road loss to Des Moines Lincoln by ticking off nine straight dual victories and, after taking second in the CIML Metro Conference Meet, they responded by winning state and districts.
While the team did lose two of its top contributors, many of the core members of last year’s boys team squad will return.
Salter said he expects Isaac Goodman to be his top performer. Other core contributors from last season’s team who will be back include junior Joey Lee, sophomore Austin Palmer and senior Anthony Roberts.
Goodman consistently posted some of the Bulldogs top scores, including leading Ottumwa with an average of 262 in a dual against Des Moines Lincoln. Roberts rolled the highest individual boys score at districts and Palmer posted the second highest individual score at the CIML meet, finishing just three pins behind teammate Ollum. The boys all posted top 12 scores at the Metro conference meet, making all of them all-conference bowlers.