For at least a year, a new part of the state will get to hold bragging rights over high school girls bowling in Washington state.
And it is decisively east.
For the first time in Washington Interscholastic Activities Association history, the state team championships were swept by Eastern Washington programs — Wenatchee in Class 4A (7,473 pins) and Hanford in Class 3A/2A (7,548).
The Panthers held off Evergreen of Vancouver (7,448) by 25 pins at Narrows Plaza Bowl — the closest margin since 2010 when Emerald Ridge edged Kennewick by 18 pins (6,983-6,965).
From the time Hanford bowled a tournament-best 978 in the sixth game Friday, it controlled the 3A/2A race. And the Falcons opened up the Baker game format Saturday morning with a 225, just to remind the rest of the field they were in for a long weekend.
“We started in last place at state two years ago, which was great. Then we finished fifth,” Hanford coach Tim Faix said. “We knew (state runner-up) Everett would be a formidable opponent. They were that. We are just really happy with the results.”
The team scores are made up of standard games and baker games. Standard games are the combined individual scores rolled Friday. The baker games feature the five members of the team rolling two frames each inside of the same game. The tournament uses 14 baker games Saturday, combined with six standard games Friday to determine a state champion.
Amanda Knowles, the Falcons’ lone senior, was on the squad three years ago than sent a couple of individual bowlers to the state tournament, then made the slow ascent to championship program Saturday.
“Three years ago, we started out like babies in bowling,” Knowles said. “Now coming in first place is absolutely incredible.”
Interestingly, the 3A/2A side of the University Place bowling center became the area for colored beards. Faix’s beard was dyed purple after Hanford’s school colors. And then Wilson coach Ken Richardson showed up with his beard in shades of red and blue.
“I told them if they were fourth or better after the first day, I would color my beard,” Richardson said. “It is colored hair gel, so it will wash out. Otherwise, it would have been a big shave-fest afterward.”
This Wilson squad that placed fourth in 3A/2A is unlike any Richardson has ever had — and certainly much different that the squads that won three consecutive 4A titles from 2006-08.
Fourteen girls were on the Rams roster. Not one of them had ever bowled before joining the high school team.
“Usually we have one or two bowlers who have done this since they were 5,” Richardson said. “These girls have not. But they listen well.”
Any second-day suspense came in the 4A tournament. Wenatchee had to survive a frantic run from the 4A Greater St. Helens League champions, who had 196 in their final Baker game. The Panthers finished at 161.
“They were really good — we watched them all day,” said Wenatchee coach Jay Young. “It was a close battle. I’ve got three seniors, so it was great for them to go out like that.”
West Central District champion Rogers had to fend off Curtis for third place. The Rams had 7,124 pins, to the Vikings’ 7,054.
Rogers’ lead was only 18 pins heading into the final Baker game. The Rams started with strikes in their first three frames, and cruised to a 180 — while the Vikings struggled with a 128.
Fifth-place finishers in the SPSL 4A regular season, the Rams went on this two-week run without their most experienced bowler — senior Alyssa Feller, who was out with a concussion after slipping on ice at school and hitting her head.
“It was truly a team effort today,” Rogers coach Justin Wisness said. “We had all seven girls bowl and contribute.”
Southwest Washington schools were shut out of the state team chase or from individual winners for the first time since 2008.