If wearing black bandannas and chewing on tangy Swedish Fish candy become a trend in Washington high school girls bowling next season, you have Spanaway Lake High School’s Carolina Snowden to thank for that.
After all, she is now the queen of Class 4A bowling.
Just a sophomore, Snowden built a sizable lead in the morning session, then hung on in the afternoon to become the Sentinels’ first 4A bowling champion at the WIAA state championships Friday at Narrows Plaza Bowl in Tacoma.
Her six-game total was 1,227 pins, good enough to hold of West Central District counterparts Alexia Rawls of Curtis (1,158) and Elisa Couch of Emerald Ridge (1,154) for the state title.
Snowden started out with a pair of 212 games, then a 230 and a 216 in her fourth game to build a lead that was nearly 100 pins over the field.
She needed it, too, because she grew weary in the sixth game. Three of her final four frames were open en route to a finishing 160.
That left the door ajar for her chasers. Needing a run of strikes, instead Couch missed a 10-pin in the fifth frame — and Rawls got a bit unlucky with a split that led to an open sixth frame.
“You know, I felt like I was going to have a good day,” said Snowden, a district champion as a ninth-grader last season before placing ninth at the state tournament.
“I was nervous, but I kept calm and focused — and tried to have fun at the same time.”
Fun? After every shot, the teenager chatted up anyone who would listen to her commentary — then always flashed a smile at her father, Stanley, who was standing in the back of the crowded arena.
“She is a talker,” Spanaway Lake coach Brooke Wilkinson said. “But she enjoys this.”
At a young age, Snowden spent plenty of Sunday afternoons at Bowl Arena Lanes at Joint Base Lewis-McChord watching her parents compete in adult leagues or brother Maxx in junior leagues.
“My brother was a big inspiration for everything,” Snowden said. “I wanted to follow in his footsteps.”
As a pledge to her Mexican-American heritage, Snowden decided to start wearing a black handkerchief over her head.
“My lucky bandanna for bowling,” she said.
While Snowden’s victory was new, what isn’t is Battle Ground’s continued success at the 4A championships. The Tigers are the three-time defending champions.
And they got a rude awakening in the morning when Bethel jumped out to a 120-pin lead after two games.
The Tigers nearly erased all of that with 917 pins in the third game — and took control with a 957 in the next game. They lead by nearly 300 pins heading into the Baker game format Saturday morning.
Three Battle Ground bowlers — Cassandra Hult (1,144), Adrianne Schock (1,128) and Bailee Standley (1,063) — finished in the top 11.
“We are pretty good,” Tigers coach Harold Lysne said, “and fun to watch.”
Last season, Bremerton won its first 3A/2A team title since 2008. But it graduated much of its core group off that squad — and was eliminated at this season’s WCD tournament.
Megan Wittenberg made it back as an individual, and got a bit of redemption by taking home a 3A/2A title for herself.
Paced by a career-best 708 series in her final three games, Wittenberg blew away the field in becoming the school’s first state champion since Kayla Thomas in 2007.
“It was weird knowing I would come here without my team — and that I wouldn’t be cheering a whole lot,” said Wittenberg, who finished with 1,283 pins to beat Fort Vancouver’s Lauryn Heying (1,242).
“But I got used to it. And I had my family around me, so I was supported here.”
Defending 3A/2A champion Shannon Bailey (1,145), an Annie Wright student who bowls for Wilson, finished eighth. Five of her six games were of scores 190 or higher.
Afterward, she said she was giving up competitive bowling.
“It is just for fun now,” she said.
Columbia River (5,193) holds a 132-pin lead over Southwest District rival R.A. Long in the 3A/2A team chase.