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Evergreen bowlers celebrate three-peat at state

Evergreen, Prairie finish 1-2 at 3A state tournament

By Andy Buhler, Columbian Staff Writer
Published: February 1, 2019, 5:08pm
2 Photos
The Prairie girls bowling team gathers before the 3A state bowling team award ceremony, in which it placed second, on Friday at Narrows Plaza in University Place.
The Prairie girls bowling team gathers before the 3A state bowling team award ceremony, in which it placed second, on Friday at Narrows Plaza in University Place. (Andy Buhler/The Columbian) Photo Gallery

UNIVERSITY PLACE — Evergreen bowling delivered a dominant performance to three-peat as 3A state champs on Friday.

It didn’t take long for coach Robin Bailey to think about what could be next: the coveted four-peat.

The Plainsmen entered rarified air in its 598-pin win in the 3A state bowling tournament at Narrows Plaza Bowl. Only two other teams, Emerald Ridge and Wilson, have won three state titles. Battle Ground and Mark Morris have each won four — the most by any program in the state.

Battle Ground had four in a row from 2012-2015. Bailey is well aware.

“I would like to have four in a row,” Bailey said. “(Battle Ground) had four in a row. We think about that. I don’t (shy away from it), no way. I think about that for sure.”

Bailey feels pride in Evergreen’s four-year run at the 3A state tournament. Pride for the school, pride for her bowlers and pride for Southwest Washington, a region that left its footprint all over Tacoma Narrows Bowl this year.

“For Evergreen it’s a really big deal,” Dakota O’Neil said. “Recently no sports at Evergreen have been three-peats.”

Seniors Kerissa Andersen and O’Neil, a day after finishing first and second, respectively, as individuals, felt the school pride, first and foremost.

They routinely walk by the trophy case in the halls at school and each time they do, the two notice the gargantuan wedding cake-sized state bowling title trophy, topped with a gold-colored replica bowling ball.

“I point it out,” O’Neil said, “like, ‘you know we did that?’ ”

It’s that type of confidence the two say helped them not just maintain, but add to its 335-pin lead going into Friday’s baker games. Bailey wouldn’t rest easy heading into Friday, especially after blowing a 167-pin lead in bakers to Prairie in districts a week prior.

“It made me think about (last week, bakers) for sure,” Bailey said. “We had that lead and over 14 bakers we could lose it.”

Even as Evergreen’s lead grew, Bailey wouldn’t rest. Andersen and O’Neil, however, were confident.

“Bakers are our strongest point as a team, because we’re all together and we’re all loud,” O’Neil said. “We knew we were going to win this when we had the first game.”

Added Andersen: “100 percent.”

Andersen and O’Neil bowl in tournament year round, which makes them used to the pressure, they said.

But their leadership started long before this 3A state tournament, Bailey said. From the start of the season, they were vocal about each member of the team supporting each other, whether varsity or junior varsity. If a JV bowler had a season-best, Andersen, the team’s captain, was giving high-fives and congratulations.

“And the last three years have really been like that,” Bailey said. “When one’s down, you saw it, we had one bad game and they say, ‘it’s OK’ and they go onto the next. I always tell them one frame at a time, don’t look down, just look forward.”

Bailey can’t help but look forward, too. And with Karina Johnsen, Teryn Stine and freshman Kailee Wilcox — all in its top-five — returning next season, Bailey sees reason to believe Evergreen can keep its streak rolling.

And though they will be graduates, Andersen and O’Neil insist they’ll be at state next year cheering on their former team, along with ex-Evergreen bowlers Lexi Henderson and Jessica Dufrain, too.

“We wanted to go out with a bang,” Andersen said.

Prairie girls bowling finished second in state — its second-best finish in program history. The Falcons entered the baker games with a 257-pin advantage on third-place Bethel, but rolled a 128 and 130 in the first two baker games.

Prairie was played tentative and nervous, coach Rhonda Bash said.

After that, Bash went back to the drawing board. She inserted the two alternates, sophomores Abbi Weimer and Amy Wolf, and under the leadership of seniors Lauren Hapgood, dug deep.

Prairie held an 80-pin lead with four games left, then strung a 193 and 183 in the 11th and 12th baker to provide enough cushion to hold on.

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The Falcons won a state title in 2011, but none of the bowlers on this year’s team at competed at state. They hope this is the sign of more to come.

“Just shows us what we’re capable of,” Bash said. “We got to experience those nerves and jitters. Hopefully make it back next year and have a little more confidence, just like what shows up with Evergreen.”

Columbian Staff Writer