For the first time in recent memory, the Shelton High School bowlers are underdogs at the state tournament.
The Highclimbers have had a rich tradition in bowling since it became an official Washington Interscholastic Activities Association sport in 2001-02, with four top-three finishes at state, including winning the Class 3A/2A state title in 2007.
But last year, Shelton ended a seven-year streak at state, after placing a disappointing ninth at the West Central District III tournament.
Now, Shelton is back at state, and being cast in the underdog role is the way coach Curt Snyder likes it going into the tournament, which begins at 10 a.m. today and concludes Saturday at Narrows Plaza Bowl in University Place.
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Emerald Ridge is the favorite in the team race, having won the past two Class 4A state titles, but Shelton is right on the Jaguars’ heels. The Highclimbers gave Emerald Ridge a scare at last week’s district tournament, finishing second to the Jaguars by only 64 pins (3,350 to 3,286).
“I think they’ve (the Jaguars) come to realize that there are other bowling teams out there that can give them a run for their money,” Snyder said. “I’m hoping (my) girls are able to bowl well at the state lanes.”
Sister Mishawn and Danielle Ewart – who are Snyder’s granddaughters – owned the top two averages in the 4A Narrows League at 177 and 175, respectively, during the regular season. However, Mackenzie Chakos was the team’s top performer at district with a 185 average, good for seventh overall. Following Chakos was Danielle Ewart (178 average), Mishawn Ewart (172), Brittany Chamberlain (169) and Lynzee Johnson (158). Earlier this season, Danielle Ewart set school records for both single-game (288) and two-game series (471).
An advantage Shelton has over the competition experience bowling at Narrows Plaza. The Highclimbers beat Bellarmine, 7-0, on Jan. 13 there. Snyder admits the lane conditions don’t fit his bowlers’ style well because of the oil patterns, but he hopes facility familiarity will be on Shelton’s side. This experience at state will be a first for all of the Highclimbers scheduled to compete.
“The level of excitement is really up there,” Snyder said. “We have a great bunch of girls, and I hope we do well at state and represent our school and community well.”
In the 3A/2A division, Timberline will compete at state for the second straight year. The Blazers finished fourth at the district tournament last week, led by Jamie Sheppard’s 653 total pins, including a 258 in Game 1.
Yelm’s Brittany Lunsford qualified individually after rolling a 491. Tumwater’s Leea Haworth and Black Hills’ Nicole Hayes qualified for state after finishing in the top six individually among non-state qualifying teams. Haworth, the three-time Evergreen Confernece MVP, rolled a 616 series, and Hayes had 514.
Sub-regional wrestling for all classes takes place today and Saturday. Class 4A/3A Narrows League teams will compete today (5 p.m.) and Saturday (10 a.m.) at Foss High School; the 2A Evergreen Conference’s sub-regional will be today (5 p.m.) and Saturday (11 a.m.) at Centralia; and the Southwest Washington 1A League’s sub-regional will be today (5 p.m.) and Saturday (10 a.m.) at Elma. The girls sub-regional tournament also is at Elma, starting at 10 a.m. Saturday. The Olympia and Shelton boys swimming teams will take part in the West Central District III meet at Rogers High School today (prelims) and Saturday (finals). Start time is 4 p.m. both days. Olympia’s gymnastics team participates in sub-districts Saturday at Mount Rainier, while Capital, and the North Thurston School District teams have sub-districts at 4 p.m. Saturday at Gymnastics Elite in Tumwater.
The Timberline girls clinched their first league basketball title in school history Wednesday night after a 49-37 3A Narrows League win over Lincoln. The third-ranked Blazers, who went 0-20 in 2005-06, improved to 18-0 with two regular-season games remaining, including tonight’s home game against Wilson. Rainier can finish undefeated in conference play for the first time if the Mountaineers defeat winless Rochester tonight at 7 in the Southwest Washington 1A Evergreen girls basketball regular-season finale. Win or lose, Rainier has already locked up the No. 1 seed and earned a District IV 1A tournament first-round bye. Shelton lineman Joey Wuolle signed a letter of intent to play football at Dakota State University, an NAIA school in Madison, S.D, on Wednesday. The 6-foot-3, 250-pounder was a two-time all-Narrows League player.