By ERIC A. HOWALD
Of the Keizertimes
The McNary High School bowling teams capped district titles with top eight finishes in the state tournament in Medford last weekend.
While the teams awaited their final placement, the boys finished in fourth or fifth, while the girls finished seventh or eighth. Members from both teams cited difficult lane conditions as one factor in their performance.
The teams competed in 30 qualifying matches with 15 other teams the first day of the tournament and then went into a double-elimination bracket Sunday, Feb. 23.
The boys made it to the second round of double elimination before a 7-10 split by Scott Bridger in the 10th frame sent them to the consolation bracket. Coach Dan Kaplan said the ball was flush to the pocket, but the lanes left bowlers with weird spares throughout the tournament. Bridger managed to pick up one of the pins, but the other team advanced with a one-pin win.
“The lanes felt long and narrow. They didn’t feel comfortable like they do here (at Town & Country),” Bridger said.
Still, the boys bowled six games over 200 in their first eight matches of the second day.
“We were a better team the second day than we were the first,” said freshman Nick Blythe.
The boys missed a chance to play in the third-place game by a mere 10 pins.
Sierra Mo, who bowls with the girls, said the team had a mostly consistent first day, but it was nerves that got the better of them in double-elimination.
“Once we got to the double-elimination games you could just tell that the pressure was getting to all of us,” Mo said.
The bowlers were accompanied by a throng of supporters who got to watch as the Celt’s led the entire alley in a round of Journey’s Don’t Stop Believing, a tradition the team has carried on for four years. Members of the team were given financial help for their trip with support from Don Lebold, owner of Town & Country, and Boucher’s Jewelers.
While it wasn’t exactly the state championship the teams hoped for, they are even more excited for what next season might bring.
“There were a lot of good bowlers down there this weekend and a lot of them were seniors. Once they graduate it opens up opportunities for us because we have a lot of good people who will be back and a lot of good bowlers coming up from middle school,” Mo said.
Both teams lose only one bowler to graduation in June.
While the tournament was the end of regulation play for the bowlers, a handful will get one more shot to impress. Blythe, Bridger, Aaron Seth, Mo and Hannah Russell will compete as part of district All-Star teams March 8-9 in Tillamook.