OTTUMWA — The future may be uncertain.
Presently, the Ottumwa High School bowling teams are both 4-0. That's where they'll stay heading into the new year.
The Bulldog girls and boys both rolled their way to wins on Tuesday in what at this point is the next-to-last scheduled home date of the regular season at Champion Bowl. The Ottumwa boys improved their season-best score, rolling a 3,106 to earn wins over both Fairfield and Oskaloosa, who will wrap up 2020 bowling at Pella this weekend while the Bulldogs and Trojans will wait until 2021 to return to competition.
For Ottumwa, the new year will bring plenty of tests and plenty of questions.
"We still don't know what we'll face after the first of the year," Ottumwa head girls bowling coach Doug Techel said. "We don't know who we're bowling, where we're bowling and when we're bowling in some cases. It depends a lot on the Des Moines (Public) schools. We're pretty much done at home, aside from a tournament that will be here in January.
"After the first of the year, the fun and games are over. It's time to put our nose to the grindstone. We're still about 300 pins away from where we want to be for the state tournament, if we can make it there."
Familiar faces led the Bulldogs in the final meet of 2020. Braydon Songer posted a 223 average for the OHS boys, one of four Ottumwa bowlers to post a 200-plus average.
Zoe Seamans led the way again for the OHS girls, posting the best two-game total of any varsity bowler on Tuesday. Seamans finished with a 473 total, following up a 237 opening game with a 236 in the second game.
"Zoe bowled really well. You can't ask anything more out of her," Techel said. "We just need our other bowlers to be more consistent and throw the ball the same way each time."
Richard Garrett kicked off a 214 two-game average for the Ottumwa boys with an opening 235 on Tuesday. Reiley Freeman also posted a 200-plus average, following up a 199 in the opening game with a 214 in the second game to help Ottumwa post 2,063 heading into the baker rotation.
"This team has always shot good. We always go out and shoot our best," Garrett said. "I'm not really expecting anything this year. Our team earns everything that we get."
Ottumwa continued to add to a 212-pin lead over Oskaloosa in the baker rounds. The Bulldogs posted 200-plus scores in four of the five bakers, including a 202 opener and a 210 in the third game to build a 351-pin advantage.
Ottumwa closed the day in style, rolling a 227 in the fourth baker game and a 211 in the closing game. Oskaloosa finished second with a score of 2,677, led by a 204 average from Jarrett Czerwinski and a 201 average from Andrew Quang.
"We were a little nervous out of the gates, but I'm really happy with the way they settled down from the middle of the first games on," Ottumwa head boys bowling coach Tom Maher said. "I'm really happy with the baker games. We seemed to have issues with the right lane as far as carry. We closed that lane up both times we were on it. We filled every frame. We learned from the last time we were on that we needed to close out every frame, make our spares and do the best with what we were given."
Fairfield, back on the Champion Bowl lanes for the second time in as many days, posted a 2,383 team score for the boys with a 168 average from Drake Drish leading the way while the Trojan girls posted a 2,189 score, beating out Oskaloosa by a slim 115 pins paced by a 165 average from Karen Ehret. The Fairfield girls improved to 2-1 overall while the Trojan boys fell to 1-2 after both scored season-opening wins Monday against Mount Pleasant.
"We struggled with ball reaction. We haven't been bowling much and our hands are a little sore," Fairfield boys bowling coach Bryan Marlay said. "We're tore up a little bit, but we couldn't get the same ball reaction we got on Monday. That's part of our lack of practice. We're going to get some practices in and we have to work on some simple mechanics. We need to work on putting the ball where we want to put it.
"The whole key to bowling is balance and routine, doing the same thing, releasing the ball the same way. We need to get the rhythm, the balance and the routine. We need to improve what we can control, which is the start to the foul line. After we control that part, we'll get the better reaction."
While both Ottumwa teams will be competing away from home for the majority of the remainder of the regular season, Fairfield will be competing and practicing at Champion Bowl to open 2021. After returning to the action at Arrowhead Bowl in Keokuk to face the Chiefs on Tuesday, Jan. 5, Fairfield will be back in Ottumwa to host Davis County on Monday, Jan. 11.
"I stole a quote from Doug (Techel) many years ago when I first started coaching," Fairfield girls bowling coach Lisa Greenig said. "Strikes are a plus. Spares are a must. The kids know it. Getting a one or a zero after a spare might cost you about 19 pins on one shot. The kids are developing and learning, but they left a lot of pins out on the lanes. As we continue through the year, it's going to be exciting to see us work to pick up those pins."