CK earns shot to defend state title

There will be no individual champions when the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association state bowling tournament is held on Friday and Saturday, Feb. 8 and 9, at Leilani Lanes in Seattle.

“Among the bowling coaches, there’s a bit of unhappiness about that,” said Wes Fitz, coach of the defending champion Central Kitsap Cougars. “There seems to be individual champions in track and field, in swimming, in wrestling. They have team and individual events in those sports. But they elect to call bowling a total team sport.”

The Cougars, coming off a convincing win at the Feb. 2 district tournament, held at All Star Lanes in Silverdale, are considered the team to beat, once again.

They’re the total team package when it comes to high school-bowling, which has been a WIAA-sanctioned sport for just three years.

“These girls have been bowling with each other forever,” Fitz said when asked about the Cougars’ success. “They’re in a good travel league; their parents bowl and provided them with instruction when they were younger. It just happens that we’re in a little bubble of extremely good bowlers.”

CK senior Stephanie Sharkey, who would have been the individual favorite after finishing second a year ago, has been bowling since she was four. Her father, Lonnie Sharkey, is considered the best bowler in Kitsap County history. Like her father, she’s left-handed. And she’s already on the track to greatness, bowling her first 300 last month.

“She likes it,” said Lonnie during a break in Saturday’s district tourney. “She has fun. That’s the most important thing.”

The younger Sharkey has competed in several national-level events and plans to compete for a spot on the USA Junior National team later this year.

As good as Sharkey is — she averaged 200 in Narrows League play this year — teammate Stephanie Tangonan emerged as the top pin-buster at district. Tangonan had a 176 average in league play, but bowled a 224, 202 and 168 for a 594 series at district. Sharkey (184, 196, 191—572) had the third-high series behind Shelton’s Kristi Scoles (580).

CK’s Maria Roque (555) was fifth and Jamie Perez placed eighth (542). Grace Bohlke, Stacy Woolford and Lydia Tetrault round out the seven-person team. “Grace would have been up there in the top 10 for sure but I subbed one game for her,” Fitz said of the junior who had games of 187 and 170.

At district, the format called for three games from any five bowlers and four games using the Baker system, where five bowlers roll two frames each.

At state, the eight qualified teams will roll six games of regular bowling on Friday and return Saturday at 8:15 a.m. for 12 games using the Baker system. Total pins from both days determines the team champion.

“I think we have a better chance than most,” Fitz said of CK’s chances. “There’s teams that have one or two good bowlers, but not many teams with five strong bowlers top to bottom. Our lowest average person is in the 160s. For some teams, that’s their second or third person.

“Over the course of six games, it makes a huge difference. That’s what we saw (on Saturday) at district. There was quite a gap between ourselves and the second team (Stadium).

Wilson placed third and Tumwater fourth. The other state qualifers are Moses Lake, Wenatchee, Anacortes and the South Puget Sound League champion.

Jennifer DeWitt earned third-team, all-district honors with her 510 series. CK’s Tangonan, Sharkey and Roque were first-team picks. Perez was a second-team pick.

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