Larissa Sharwark was the only bowler left at Aztec Lanes on Thursday.
The senior bowling league cleared out around 2:30 p.m. And Timberline’s Mikayla Jarvis — the Class 4A fifth seed out of the West Central District in Friday’s state tournament — tossed a few frames before taking off for the afternoon.
So there was Sharwark, on lane No. 4, the lone North Thurston bowler still rolling.
“The last two weeks, I’ve tried to focus on myself and tried to help myself,” she said. “Practiced by myself. Kept myself in it.”
Sharwark, a senior, will compete in her second state bowling tournament Friday in the 3A/2A division. Last season, she finished 21st in the 3A/2A classification with a six-game score of 1,022.
At the WCD tournament last week, she nabbed the No. 2 seed.
“It’s been the last month-and-a-half she’s really picked it up,” said North Thurston bowling coach Bob Wienski. “It’s like going into the playoffs — you’ve got to go in hot. And she’s going into state hot.”
Sharwark carried a 163.5 average per game this season — second best in the 3A Narrows League.
“She’s got really great form and natural ability,” assistant coach Dan Brathovd said. “If she hits her targets, it’s a matter of just getting (the ball) off her hand the same way. She’s been rolling the ball good this week, so I’m excited for state (Friday).
“Right now everything off her hand is good and clean, and she’s getting out of it consistently every shot. So it’s nice to see her really peaking before we go to state.”
Brathovd owns Sharwark’s home alley with his wife, April. They took over ownership in 2008, but it’s been in his family since 1972.
And Sharwark has been around as long as they’ve been in charge.
She said she’s at the alley six days per week. Sometimes practicing. Sometimes cleaning shoes. On Friday nights, she DJs for neon bowling.
“She’s a good kid,” April said. “When they have weird hours at school and they have a different lunch schedule, she’ll come here. I won’t even be open, but she’ll be knocking on my door — let me in.
“She comes and hangs out. She’ll bowl if we tell her she has to practice.”
Sharwark — who takes a laid-back approach to the sport — claims she isn’t the biggest fan of bowling, but the natural ability is there.
“If you give her a goal, she likes to try to achieve it,” Dan said. “She always jokes with me about getting out of practice early. I say, ‘OK, you shoot a 220, you can go home early.’ And she’ll go bowl a 220.”
Sharwark’s best game? A 256 last year. And that happened at Aztec Lanes, too — where she said she bowls her best.
She rolled her blueberry-scented Storm ball — one of four balls she bowls with, which range from 14-15 pounds.
“I was just trying to keep my cool, I guess,” she said. “Trying not to get too worked up. I didn’t blow it because I didn’t want to blow it. So, I kind of just sat down and was like, ‘All right, take a breath, it’s going to be all right,’ and just kept my head on and kept focus.”
Last season was the breakout for Sharwark, partially motivated by the competition with the Brathovds’ daughter, Cortnie, who took 17th at state.
“The competition there on the team brought them both up for sure, and (Larissa’s) just kind of kept it going,” Dan said. “She’s really stuck with it. I think she’s got that mindset that she could do better and she wants to do better. She’s a go-getter. She’ll go do it.”
The final day of practice was spent running drills, including a 10-pin, 7-pin drill where Sharwark worked on picking up spares.
“She’s really laid back,” Dan said. “She keeps plucking along and making the shots. This last week of practice has been really good for her with spare shooting. I think the light bulb is coming on a little bit and she’s really focused.”