Participating in a Saturday youth bowling league at Tower Lanes on Sixth Avenue in Tacoma, Shannon Bailey noticed a massive banner hanging from the wall.
It was Wilson High School’s team banner, which listed all the years the Rams won West Central District and state championships.
Bailey, who lived in Japan when her father was stationed at Kadena Air Base near Okinawa, moved to the South Sound with her family last summer. She had never bowled for a high school team.
But trying out sounded like a fun idea. And because the sport wasn’t offered at her school — Annie Wright School — she decided to look into joining the Rams this season.
That was the beginning of her story all the way back in November. And Bailey could not have written a better ending to her first season than the one she experienced Friday at the Class 3A/2A/1A girls bowling championships at Narrows Plaza Bowl in University Place.
Bailey, a cool-headed junior, rolled a final-game 247 — her best of the season — to edge Everett High School sophomore Candice Goldfinch (243) for the state title.
Bailey finished with a six-game total of 1,274 pins to become the Rams’ first individual winner. Wilson captured three consecutive team titles from 2006-08.
A hard-luck runner-up, Goldfinch was second with 1,270. Hudson’s Bay senior Dakota Varela, who bowled a 244 in her final game, was third with 1,246.
“By four pins — that is insane,” said Wilson coach Ken Richardson, who watched state runner-up finishes by former standout Amanda Richards in 2008 and 2009. “I can’t believe it. Epic.”
Bailey entered the final game tied with Goldfinch at 1,027 pins. Varela was right behind them at 1,002.
Varela started the final game rolling six consecutive strikes to move into second place, trailing only Goldfinch while Bailey kept trading a strike with a spare to stay close.
It was right before the fifth frame when Bailey slightly adjusted her footwork, and it made all the difference in how this would end.
“From then on, the ball was in the pocket,” Bailey said.
Bailey rolled six strikes in a row, seeing it end on the second ball in the 10th frame. By then, she had zoomed past both of her competitors for good.
“I just felt calm,” Bailey said. “I have no reason to get angry or get overexcited. I go to my happy place a lot.”
All three girls rolled a clean game — spares or strikes only. Goldfinch finished her final game with nine strikes. Varela had eight, and Bailey had seven.
“I am very happy,” Goldfinch said. “I did everything I could.”
STRIKES AND SPARES
Battle Ground’s Wylicia Faley won her second 4A title and first since 2012. She did it in record-setting fashion, finishing with 1,397 pins to defeat Southwest Washington rival and defending state champion Madison Crockett (1,272) of Skyview. Crockett set the previous six-game record of 1,324 last season. ... Emerald Ridge’s Elisa Couch (1,149) was the highest WCD finisher in seventh place. ... In 3A/2A/1A competition, Bremerton (5,218) roared past Timberline (5,130) in the fifth game to take the team lead at the midway point. ... Battle Ground (5,709) is well on its way to a three-peat in 4A, up 421 pins over Wenatchee (5,288). ... The state tournament wraps up Saturday morning with 14 Baker games.
Todd Milles: 253-597-8442