If you’ve heard the 1980s hit “Don’t Stop Believin’ ” from Journey a few more times than you are used to around University Place this weekend, there is a reason why.
The Eastmont High School girls bowling team is in town.
And the Wildcats will sing it anywhere — in parking lots, and mostly in the car with coaches and parents.
On the bowling lanes, their music is simple: head-banging, crashing pins. And the East Wenatchee schools did that better than anybody at the Class 4A state tournament Saturday at Narrows Plaza Bowl in University Place.
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Dominating the team session of 14 Baker games, Eastmont cruised to its first state title with a tournament-best 7,824 pins over two days.
In fact, three first-time state champions were crowned this weekend — Selah in 2A, Evergreen of Vancouver in 3A, and the Wildcats making sure the 4A trophy return to their area for a second consecutive year. Wenatchee won the 4A title in 2016.
“When we started this thing four years ago, we modeled it after Wenatchee,” Eastmont coach Jeremy Anders said. “Their longtime coach Jay Young was a mentor to me.”
The one thing Anders has done at Eastmont is travel. The Wildcats returned to the Tower Classic in Tacoma this past December and won that invitational in back-to-back years.
“We’ve tried to expose ourselves as much as possible around the state,” Anders said.
After Eastmont star bowler Cheyanne Greening, the defending 4A champion, suffered a crushing defeat in her bid to repeat Friday night, the team woke up Saturday and got back to business.
The bowlers started singing their tune.
“To get loose,” Anders said.
Last year, Evergreen of Vancouver lost the closest team race since 2010 when it lost by 20 pins to Wenatchee in the 4A tournament.
And last week, the Plainsmen held a lead at districts, only to be caught late by Hudson’s Bay, which won the Southwest Washington District team crown.
So when Evergreen had its large lead trimmed to 78 pins early in the Baker game format Saturday, what happened?
It returned fire.
A 192 score in the sixth game was 49 pins better than Hudson’s Bay. And the Plainsmen closed with big games of 206, 201, 193 and 192 the rest of the way to win by 297 pins — with a 7,591 total.
“Hudson’s Bay is a great team, too. And they are from our area, so we know them,” Evergreen coach Robin Bailey said. “They were first at districts. We just switched with them today.”
Looking for a local hopeful for next season? How about a familiar face at the state tournament in Wilson, which notched its ninth podium finish by placing third in 3A with 6,884 pins.
The Rams lose two seniors, but have top bowler Sierra Berry back next season. And they have 10 ninth graders whom coach Ken Richardson said is the best freshman group he’s ever had at the school.
“It should be interesting,” Berry said. “All the freshmen who came in are pretty good, and coachable. It should be really fun next year.”
The Rams were locked in a battle to stay in third with Bethel, which defeated Wilson this winter for the PCL 3A title.
Holding a 97-pin advantage heading into the 12th game, the Rams rolled a 198, capped by Berry’s washout in the last frame. Bethel had a 164, and Wilson’s lead grew to 131 with two games remaining.
“I would say the next three or four years, we are pretty set,” Berry said. “We could finish second or first next year.”
The Jefferson girls also placed third in 4A with 7,264 pins. It was easily the Raiders’ best finish in school history.