Defending district champs CK get ready to defend title

Olympic’s Jessica Sutton helped elevate the Trojans above South Kitsap on Monday before helping Oly make districts. - Photo by Jesse Beals
Olympic’s Jessica Sutton helped elevate the Trojans above South Kitsap on Monday before helping Oly make districts.
— image credit: Photo by Jesse Beals

A year ago, the Central Kitsap girls bowling team descended upon the state tournament as the best team the West Central District 3 had to offer.

Now, CK will get a chance to defend its district crown after playing its way into the district tournament at Bowlero Lanes in Lakewood. The WCD 3 tournament begins at 9 a.m. today.

Just a few weeks removed from a coaching change that saw Bruce Welling, also CK’s softball coach, take the helm, CK is continuing to roll strong, taking second place at Wednesday’s Narrows League/Independent Team Tournament at All Star Lanes & Casino.

Wilson, which along with South Kitsap had already clinched district berths, won the tournament with 3,332 total pins across three regular games and four baker matches.

CK held off Bremerton for second, knocking down 3,069 pins to the Knights’ 3,039. Shelton took fourth and Olympic will also make the Lakewood trip after racking up 2,860 pins. SK finished sixth, while Stadium and Bellarmine both advanced from the 14-team tourney.

Klahowya finished 14th in the tournament, with a pin count of 2, 445.

“The kids did very, very well,” Welling said. “The kids were focused and they bowled very well. They were not intimidated by the noise.”

All Star Lanes got loud on Wednesday, as several schools had cheering sections made up of fellow bowlers, classmates and parents. Welling said making that adjustment will be crucial if the Cougars are to repeat last season’s successes.

As a result, CK has taken a rather unique approach to prepping it’s rollers.

“This might sound dumb and silly,” Welling said. “As they’re bowling, I put kids on both sides on the lane. The kids are waving their arms, cutting in front of them. If they smile, they lose.”

But the plan has worked, which aides CK’s focus, something Welling said makes all the difference at the louder postseason tourneys.

“Focus, that’s all it is,” Welling said. “It was pretty loud down there the other day. When you get to state, it’s very, very loud and crowded.”

As for making the transition from the diamond to the lanes, Welling said the basic idea of coaching remains the same.

“I haven’t approached it any differently,” Welling said. “My belief is as a coach, it doesn’t matter what sport it is. We do some technical stuff, but not a lot. Most of it is from the neck up.

“The kids have the skills. Can they get better? Oh yeah, they can.”

Olympic will join CK at districts after missing the cut last season.

But with strong efforts from Erin Howard, Sarah Crawford, Alaina Howell, Jessica Sutton and the rest of the varsity squad, the Trojans made sure they didn’t miss out this year.

For example, knowing they hadn’t quite locked up a spot heading into the Baker matches, the Trojans stepped up their game to roll the day’s highest Baker total, a 221-pin effort in the second Baker that included eight strikes and two spares in the 10-frame game.

Howard, along with CK’s Emalee French and Cassie Ogle, all earned inclusion on the all-tournament team as well, placing them amongst the top 15 bowlers on the day.

For Klahowya, the season comes to an end after a year of making several strides on the lanes.

“The girls really came together as a team and made at least one new friend,” KSS coach Loree Hippe said. “Every girl improved on her average.”

With a young squad, Hippe said the experience of participating in the larger-tournament atmosphere will go a long way in the squad’s continued development.

“We had a great time, the girls did well,” she said. “It’s a good experience for all to have that many teams in one place. It gives everyone a better idea of what districts and state are like.”

Ann Marie Kelly and Rebekah Alford stayed strong most of the year for the Eagles, and Chelsea Schmittler will certainly be among the key returners, Hippe said. Kelly, Paige Antuna and Serenity Jenson will all play key roles.

With that core, Hippe is already looking forward to “(h)aving a group of young ladies that want to learn about the game of bowling” next season.

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