High School Sports

Defending bowling champ says no pressure on her

Shannon Bailey’s plan for the state bowling championships is simple: She’s just going to bowl.

Never mind that she comes into Narrows Plaza Bowl in University Place this weekend as the defending state champion after a surprise victory in last year’s Class 3A/2A/1A tournament.

Bailey, a senior at Annie Wright School who bowls for Wilson High, isn’t fazed by her achievements.

“I’m not really like, ‘Oh, I’m supposedly the best,’ ” she said. “It doesn’t affect me or anything. I just bowl.”

After all, Bailey’s foray into high school bowling was largely coincidental. She saw Wilson’s banner in Tacoma’s Tower Lanes while bowling with a youth league, and her parents asked if she could join the team since Annie Wright does not offer bowling.

But the statistics tell another story: No. 1 bowler among Class 3A Narrows competitors; an average of 190; the most 200-point games and 400-point series in the league.

“She has had a super, super season,” said Wilson coach Ken Richardson, who added Bailey has been key in the Rams’ undefeated 16-0 run.

Richardson said that Bailey has struggled the past few games, but “definitely has the potential” to win Wilson’s first back-to-back bowling titles.

“There’s a little bit of pressure being the state champion,” he said. “All year she’s been dominating everybody, so it will be interesting to see how she does this weekend.”

Bailey, who moved to the area in 2013 from Japan, where her father was stationed in the Air Force, started bowling at age 6 with a Minnie Mouse ball that she still has.

Now, she racks up strikes with a trio of balls, one of which is black with “Eagle” inscribed on it, and a dark blue one bearing the name of its former owner, Marsha.

“It’s really relaxing,” she said. “You don’t have to think too much about it.”

Growing up, she tried basketball and soccer, but didn’t like the emphasis on competition.

“Bowling is competitive, but I don’t need to be aggressive to anyone else,” she said.

Richardson calls Bailey his team’s lucky find.

“She’s so coachable and worked so hard that by the end of (last) season, she had become the best bowler,” he said.

But Bailey is quick to dismiss that her status creates pressure.

“I’ve always been a stress-free person,” she said. “It’s weird, especially because of school and bowling, but I’m like ‘I got this.’ ”

Bailey plans to study geoscience at Pacific Lutheran University — and keep bowling for fun.

First, there’s the matter of defending her state title. But that’s no big deal.

“I just go and have fun,” she said. “If I bowl really well, that’s a plus for me.”