Plainsmen power is recharging.
The Evergreen girls bowling team has enjoyed an incredible run of success over the past three seasons.
It has included back-to-back Class 3A team state titles in 2017 and 2018, plus a runner-up finish at state as a 4A program in 2016.
But Evergreen returns only two players who bowled in the state tournament last year.
And whereas last season Evergreen would have a different top bowler in just about every match, this year the Plainsmen look to return state performers Kerissa Andersen and Dakota O’Neil.
“It’s definitely been different this year,” Andersen said. “I think a lot of the girls are looking to me to provide leadership and energy. I’m an emotional player, so I don’t mind keeping the team fired up.”
At a recent match, Andersen bowled a strike, leading the senior to yell “Strike it! Strike it! Strike it!” to which her teammates respond: “That’s the way we like it.”
However, on this occasion, Andersen didn’t like the volume of her teammates response. So she stopped and repeated herself.
The second response was louder, earning an approving nod from Andersen.
“We’ve got a lot of younger bowlers on our team who see Kerissa out there bowling 200s,” Evergreen coach Robin Bailey said. “And then they say ‘Hey, I want to be able to do that.’ ”
Andersen won the 3A state individual title as sophomore. Last year, she placed seventh overall.
But showing the depth of last year’s Evergreen team, she was the third-highest scoring bowler on her own team as Evergreen placed four bowlers in the top 8.
O’Neil was Evergreen’s top bowler at state last year, placing fifth overall.
“Last year, our 6-7-8 bowlers went with us to state,” Bailey said. “They just didn’t get a chance to bowl. But they’ve been looking around at other teams and seeing that they were good enough to bowl varsity on a lot of different teams in the area. This year, they’re getting their chance.”
Teryn Stein and Karina Johnsen are two bowlers who are getting to show what they can do on varsity this season. They are joined by freshman Kailee Wilcox.
“Teryn and Karina are two kids who spent the summer working on their game to get ready for varsity,” Bailey said. “And Kailee was a nice surprise. I had no idea we were getting another experienced bowler before she showed up at the start of the season.”
Even with the new bowlers in the lineup, Evergreen remains one of the top 3A teams in a league deep with talent.
Evergreen opened the non-league portion of its schedule 9-0. But Hudson’s Bay went 10-0, Fort Vancouver was 9-1 and Prairie was 7-1.
“The 3A teams down here are really good,” Bailey said. “We’ll have to be ready for them.”
Andersen feels that before the postseason arrives, Evergreen will once again be challenging for a district title.
“We’ve got a few weeks to get ready for district,” she said. “But I feel like by then, we are going to be really good again.”
Bowlers to Watch
Kerissa Andersen, Evergreen: The 2016 3A state individual champion who placed seventh last season is averaging a county-best 184 with a high game of 242.
Kailie Wilcox, Evergreen: Freshman helps Plainsmen reload, averaging 178 with a season-best 217.
Halie Martin, Hudson’s Bay: After placing fourth at 3A state last season, Martin is averaging 179 with a high game of 236 and five 200-plus games this season.
Anna Gatlin, Prairie: Gatlin has averaged 174 with a high game of 232.
Morgan Bonebrake, Battle Ground: Bonebrake averages 167 with a high game of 191.
Athena Mantalas, Skyview: Mantalas, who placed third at 4A district last year, is averaging 167 with a season best of 232.
Kaylee Combs, Heritage: Combs placed fourth at 4A district last year and is averaging 166 with a season best fo 192.
Jocelyn Sotelo, Skyview: Sotelo averages 163 with a season best of 225.
Elissa St. Julian, Prairie: St. Julian averages 163 with a season best of 222.
Teryn Turner, Battle Ground: Turner, who placed sixth at 4A district, averages 163 with a high of 204.