Feb. 11—OTTUMWA — For the Davis County bowling team, the road to the program's first state tournament is clear.
The Mustangs must come through in baker games at Champion Bowl to punch their tickets to Waterloo. In their regular-season finale, the Davis County boys showcased their abilities to produce winning baker game efforts erasing a 60-pin deficit against Fairfield with games of 213 and 244 that turned the tide of the dual, lifting the Mustangs to an eventual 71-pin win over the Trojans finishing with a score of 2,610.
"I challenged the kids a little bit going into bakers. You just need to win each little battle to win the war," Davis County head bowling coach Jason Rook said. "This is what we need to do. It takes 15 of those type of baker games to qualify for state. It's a great way to end the regular season and a great way to begin the postseason."
Both the Davis County and Fairfield boys now set their sights on Tuesday's 1A state qualifying meets. The Mustangs will be back at Champion Bowl, serving as a district tournament host for the first time in program history welcoming in Louisa-Muscatine, West Burlington, Washington, Isaac Newton Academy and Central DeWitt to Ottumwa for the District 6 tournament starting at 10 a.m.
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Fairfield, meanwhile, will head past Ottumwa on west on Highway 34 for the Class 1A, District 5 state qualifying tournament on Tuesday in Osceola at Alley Bowl. The Trojans will be joined by Centerville, Knoxville, Pella Christian, Vinton-Shellsburg and the hosting Clarke Indians in competition for their own state tournament berth.
"It all comes down to bakers. We couldn't carry the 10-pin in the bakers and Davis County came up with some big scores," Fairfield head bowling coach Chad LaRue said. "Clarke and Vinton-Shellsburg are two of the best teams in the state. We were a little surprised to get that draw, but we're showing no fear. It's going to come down to bakers. That's what will get us there."
Both Davis County bowling teams finished off the regular season with wins. The Mustang girls posted a closing score of 2,240, winning by 672 pins over the Trojans with a 319 two-game series by Nevaeh Link leading Davis County in the final tune-up before taking the lanes at Champion Bowl in their 1A regional meet.
"I feel confident in our team. In the best times, we've all come together," Link said. "You just can't hold too much pressure on yourself. Every ball is a new ball. You can't remember the last one even if it was a bad one. You just have to keep looking forward."
Addison Harris led the Fairfield girls with a 113 average against Davis County. Like the Trojan boys, the Fairfield girls will also head to Alley Bowl to compete in their 1A state qualifier in Osceola one day earlier.
Landin Closser led the Davis County boys with a 377 two-game series against Fairfield, opening with a 209 that helped the Mustangs take an early 25-pin lead. Ethan Cass rallied the Trojans in the second round of individual games with a 210, finishing with the high series of the dual posting a 383 giving Fairfield the lead going into the baker rounds.
"It was a lot of pressure. It was kind of scary thinking you might have to roll a ball that could win or lose it for the team," Closser said. "In the end, you have to do what you have to do."
— Scott Jackson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter@CourierScott.