June 11, 2008 · Updated 5:08 PM
Balls are rolling and pins are falling as girls bowling cranks up for its third season at Central Kitsap, Olympic and Klahowya.
The Cougars are the two-time defending state champions, but hopes around All Star Lanes arent high on a three-peat performance from the Cougars following the loss of All-State bowlers Stephanie Sharkey, Grace Bohlke, Mario Roque and Stephanie Tangonen and Jamie Perez. Coach Wes Fitz also stepped down and was replaced by Laurie Hippe.
The sport itself also has grown, according to Central Kitsap athletic director John Sitton, who oversees the Narrows Leagues bowling program. He said South Kitsap and Shelton joined the league this season, necessitating a split into a Bay and Bridge division. Nisqually League members North Mason and Sequim are now in the mix, joining Klahowya in playing a non-league schedule against the Narrows teams. And more growth is expected next year when Bremerton comes on board.
Its growing in leaps and bounds, Sitton said, noting that Klahowyas team membership has increased from seven in 2001 to 10 this year. CK has 25 bowlers and Oly has 16, both increases.
We actually have enough girls to bowl varsity and junior varsity teams, said Hippe, who oversees all three schools teams with the help of several assistants and volunteers.
She remains optimistic about how the local teams will fare in the ever-changing world of high school bowling.
Granted, CK doesnt have the caliber of team theyve had in the past, but weve got a couple of good seniors including team captain Stacey Woolford and an up-and-coming freshman in Kayla Hayes, Hippe said. So theyre coming along well. It depends on how they play at the end of the year as a team and not rely on one person to have a 250 game to win.
The best bowler in the district is Olympic junior Jennifer DeWitt who had a 176 average in the Trojans first two matches (a win versus Foss Tuesday and a loss to Mt. Tahoma Thursday). She anchors the team alongside junior Tatyanna Gonce.
Theyve been bowling very, very well, Hippe said.
DeWitt has been bowling for five years and Gonce has been doing it for eight years. They both also bowl in a competitive league on Saturdays at All Star Lanes.
Were at our strongest weve ever been in the past three years as a team, DeWitt said.
On Tuesday, Nov. 19, Klahowya is at All Star Lanes against Mt. Tahoma, Olympic takes on Lincoln at Tacomas Lincoln Lanes and Central Kitsap is at Tacomas Tower Lanes to play Wilson. All matches start at 3 p.m.