With each strike, spare – even unlucky splits – the Timberline High School girls’ bowling team gleefully cheered the action.
Even at the most important tournament of the season, the WIAA state girls’ championships at Narrows Plaza Bowl in University Place, the Blazers aren’t taking themselves too seriously.
As a result, they are seriously in the middle of the Class 3A/2A team title hunt.
Consistent but not flashy, Timberline nearly kept pace with defending state champion Mark Morris after the first day of the tournament Friday.
After six games, the Monarchs lead with 5,171 pins. Right behind them are the Blazers, the West Central District champions at 5,132.
Mark Morris’ Janaye Kilgore won the individual title going away. She totaled 1,295 pins – nearly a 216 average – to pull away from North Thurston’s Cortnie Brathovd (1,211), Olympic’s Kendra Willis (1,199) and defending champion Karissa Shiflet, of Kennewick (1,183).
In 4A, defending champion Battle Ground is in firm control. The Tigers had an astounding 5,493 pins – well ahead of Cascade of Everett (4,923). South Puget Sound League and WCD winner Curtis is fifth at 4,693.
And Southwest Washington bowlers made it three 4A
champions in a row. Skyview’s Madison Crockett recorded the top score for either classification – a 1,324.
Play resumes today at 8 a.m. with 14 Baker-format games to decide the state team championships.
As contenders for the first time, the Blazers are in a good spot – especially considering the pins were not falling their way. Good shots in the pocket brought their share of unfortunate splits, leading to open frames.
“What I liked, they were struggling a bit – there were too many splits – but they are keeping their heads in the game,” Timberline coach John Wilson said. “I just feel really good about their mental state.”
Very stress-free, and kind of loosey goosey.
Their best individual finisher Friday was Bernadine Dale, who placed 14th with 1,092. But she was tops in finding stay-warm apparel – strolling around the bowling alley in fluffy slippers.
“They are comfortable and cute,” Dale said. “When you wake up at 5 in the morning, you want to just throw (clothes) on.”
Just a few feet from the Timberline camp was Kilgore, who brought five bowling balls to the tournament. A year-round bowler, she was treating this event like normal business.
“I bowled very consistent,” said Kilgore, who took a big lead after a 237 in the fourth game. “I was very calm, I guess.”
Wilson has made 10 appearances at the state tournament, most ever. And the Rams have registered a top-four podium finish six times.
They are not only in position for their seventh state trophy, they might have found their future building block – sophomore Hunter Freuhling-Thomas.
Last season, Freuhling-Thomas was a state alternate. But after coach Ken Richardson suggested she bowl in more tournaments in the offseason, she took him up on it – and it is paying off.
With her lowest game a 180, Freuhling-Thomas placed fifth in 3A/2A with 1,177.
“This is the best I’ve ever done. My goal was to beat my high game (a 212), and I did that with a 213,” Freuhling-Thomas said. “Today, I was just on fire.”
Another underclassman had a personal-best showing in 4A, too. Rogers High’s Alyssa Feller placed third with 1,245. Her coach, Justin Wisness, said in the past few weeks, his ninth grader was bowling her best scores.
“The key today was focusing and staying on my mark,” Feller said. “I bowl in a league and have done a lot of tournaments, so I am used to this feeling.”Todd Milles: 253-597-8442 firstname.lastname@example.org blogs.thenewstribune.com/preps @ManyHatsMilles