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Prep bowling: Mustangs fall short in first home postseason meets

Feb. 16—OTTUMWA — It's one thing to host a state qualifying meet.

The next goal for the Davis County bowling program will be winning at a state qualifying meet.

Easier said than done.

The Mustang girls and boys both put forth their best efforts as the program looked to parlay competing in their home away from home, Champion Bowl in Ottumwa, into the program's first trip to the Iowa High School State Bowling Tournament. The Mustang girls finished as the regional runner-up, finishing 450 pins shy of 1A state powerhouse Louisa-Muscatine, while the Davis County boys were left in third place one day later by the Falcon boys and district team champion Central DeWitt who pushed each other to the finish with the Sabers posting a winning score of 2,983, edging L&M by 87 pins.

The Davis County boys finished with a team score of 2,686 on Tuesday, showing glimpses of a team that could break through as the program's first state qualifier with early games of 215 and 213. The Davis County girls, meanwhile, posted on their best regional scores finishing with a final total of 2,343 edging Sigourney-Keota for second place by 107 pins.

"Being able to host the state qualifier, I thought it gave us a better chance to advance," Davis County bowling coach Jason Rook said. "The girls posted a better score than their season average, but they weren't quite able to step up to catch Louisa-Muscatine.

"For the boys, we got off to a great start in bakers. It was probably our best set, scoring 950. Central DeWitt opening with 1,100 was pretty impressive. We just couldn't pick up anything once we started moving lanes."

Qualifying for the state bowling tournament proved to be tough for all area 1A programs. The Sigourney-Keota boys, despite entering the day with two bowlers that had state tournament experience, finished third at Imperial Lanes in Camanche with a team score of 2,863 finishing 109 pins shy of a state team berth as Camanche edged Monticello for the district team title by 60 pins with a score of 2,972.

The Fairfield boys also finished in third place as a team at their state qualifier in Osceola with a team score of 2,764. Clarke, bowling at home at Alley Bowl, posted a score of 3,028 to clinch a trip to Waterloo by nearly 200 pins over Vinton-Shellsburg.

Both sites, however, did produce individual Class 1A boys state bowling tournament qualifiers. Wells Clark became the third member of the current S-K bowling team to reach state, following in the footsteps of Brock Alderson and Landyn Greiner, by finishing in a tie for third place at Camanche with three-game series total of 658 while Centerville senior Michael Starr snagged the fourth and final individual state ticket out of Osceola with a three-game series score of 616 after helping the Big Reds finish fifth as a team with 15-baker game score of 2,443.

"The whole team bowled really well going into substates," S-K head bowling coach Cody Bruns said. "Brock won our conference title. Landyn, Wells and Ty (Greiner) were right up there as well. Our guys were excited to get up there and see what they could accomplish."

Like the Davis County boys, S-K got off to an impressive start in their district meet during the baker games taking the lead with games of 216 and 236 to post an opening five-game set of 1,006. Camanche responded in the sixth baker game with a 265, pulling within 48 pins of the Cobras, before taking the lead for good closing out the second set of bakers with games of 240, 212 and 264 building a 67-pin lead over S-K.

The Cobras got as close as 57 pins with two games left after rolling games of 215 and 196. Camanche, however, closed out the team title and state berth with games of 194 and 209 to hold off S-K and Monticello.

Individual state qualifying was equally as competitive in Class 1A. Clark opened with a 259 for S-K, but was still second behind Jackson Moore of Waukon before taking the lead with a second game of 226.

Ultimately, Clark had to hold on to the final state berth after rolling a 173 in the third and final game. Camanche teammates Garrett Reynolds and David Hendricks each rolled three consecutive 200-plus games to post the top two individual scores at the substate meet with Reynolds posting a winning three-game series total of 698.

Alderson posted a solid three-game series total of 649, but could not overcome a 196 in the second game ultimately finishing nine pins short of a state tournament berth. Greiner posted 209 and 210 to open individual play, but faded with a 187 in the final game finishing with a 606 for the Cobras.

Then there was Jayden Montgomery, who qualified for the individual state tournament last year for the S-K girls. Montgomery found herself just 13 pins outside of a state berth entering the final individual game back in Ottumwa on Monday.

Montgomery, however, could also not overcome the Louisa-Muscatine's talented group. Keely Williams (605), Molly Bramble (602), Hannah Anderson (587) and Kamryn Taylor (580) clinched the four individual state berths while a closing 171 by Montgomery left the S-K junior in fifth place, missing out on a return to state by 52 pins.

"I knew it was going to be hard going into it. I came in with an open mind. I knew there was a chance I might not make it back to state, and it's okay," Montgomery said. "I stayed blind the entire way. That definitely helped emotionally. It was still hard. The lanes started breaking down, but I did the best I could."

Kodi Pearson, bowling for the final time for Davis County, closed out her prep career posting a 514 series total finishing seventh overall in the state qualifier just 72 pins shy of qualifying for state. Mustang teammates Taylor Bridgeman (510) and Nevaeh Link (498) also finished in the top 10 each coming within a game of potentially becoming the first Mustang bowler to advance to state.

"My second game kind of took me down a little bit," Pearson said. "My ball was carrying, but it didn't quite finish through the second game like it did in the first. I just tried to score good on the last game. It was one of my best days bowling for this team."

Fairfield senior Dalton Drish also closed out his career making a valiant run at a state berth, finishing with a team-leading 547 three-game series ultimately placing 10th overall at Clarke. The Davis County boys were led by a freshman during their individual tournament back in Ottumwa as Landin Closser surged late with a pair of 200 games ultimately winding up ninth with a series total of 574, finishing just 42 pins outside of state tournament qualification.

"I realized I was going to have shoot high. If I didn't shoot big, I wasn't going to make it to state," Closser said. "I started finding my mark and I went for it in my two last games.

"It's big for experience to compete in this and realize how good people are. I know the high scores I'm going to have to reach next year. Hopefully, I can make it to state one of my years of high school. That would be a big accomplishment."

— Scott Jackson can be reached at sjackson@ottumwacourier.com. Follow him on Twitter@CourierScott.