UNIVERSITY PLACE — If it’s the Class 3A state bowling tournament at Narrows Plaza Bowl, chances are pretty good Evergreen Plainsmen are in the thick of things.
How good? Donut-worthy good after the opening day of the 4A and 3A tournaments just outside of Tacoma, where the Plainsmen are again in prime position to do what they’ve done the previous three seasons: win a state title.
While they led from start to finish Friday through six traditional games, it was an eye-popping 1,004-pin total in the fifth game that had Narrows Plaza Bowl buzzing for the second time Friday (the first came when North Thurston’s Juliauna Gosney rolled a 289 game with 10 consecutive strikes to start the game).
It’s by far a season best for Evergreen, surpassing the 969 pin total from the opening game at districts last week. Karina Johnsen’s career-high game of 259 behind seven strikes to end the game fueled the Plainsmen’s monster point total.
And with it comes donuts, a little bribery from head coach Robin Bailey.
“We actually do get donuts,” Johnsen said. “That 1,000-game was really good; we needed that. We all found our groove that game.
“I’m really proud we were able to get that and proud of everybody.”
Evergreen, the three-time defending 3A champion, leads the team standings with 5334 pins — 167 pins ahead of second-place Wilson of Tacoma (5171) entering Saturday’s 14-game baker format.
Prairie is fifth (4803) behind Anna Gatlin’s sixth-place individual finish.
The strength of Southwest Washington bowling was on display Friday. Fort Vancouver’s Rose Ugbinada’s third-place mark (1,177 pins) led a 3-4-5-6 run for Clark County bowlers in 3A. Ugbinada’s finish is the second-highest in program history for the Trappers. She placed ninth in 2019.
Two bowlers in that top 5 are Plainsmen — Johnsen (1,165), a senior, and freshman Kierra Wilcox (1,156) — who placed fourth and fifth, respectively. District champion Kailee Wilcox placed 11th (1,067).
But my, have the young Plainsmen grown up.
With two freshmen in its rotation, Evergreen found its rhythm at the right time. It started at districts last week, recapturing the 3A district title at Allen’s Crosley Lanes and continued that momentum at a venue that’s been nothing but good to the Plainsmen in recent years.
The program is one of a handful of teams since the WIAA began sanctioning bowling in 2001 that have won three consecutive team titles, but only two — Battle Ground and Mark Morris — have one four. The Tigers did so in Class 4A from 2012-’15.
A 167-pin lead entering Saturday has the Plainsmen feeling up beat.
“It’s a lot of games,” Johnsen said, “but I’m staying positive.”
SPARANO, SKYVIEW THIRD IN 4A
McKenzie Sparano finally found her A-game.
Sparano rolled a 190 average in her six-game total of 1,145 pins to place third in Class 4A. Emerald Ridge’s Samantha Dolan (1,186) won the 4A title.
Sparano’s third-place finish has Skyview sitting in third as a team (4,633 pins) behind leader Emerald Ridge (4,955) and runner-up Pasco (4,792) entering Saturday’s baker games.
While this is Sparano’s third trip, it’s her first medal. She shifted her focus over the summer at a college bowling camp at Wichita State, which helped in shot selection to mental game. As an experienced bowler, she’s accustomed to high-pressure events and venues, and the postseason high school experience, ilke others, tests that mental approach.
That part of her game was on point Friday.
“It’s a gig part of the game anywhere,” Sparano said. “If you don’t have it, then you’ll speed up and you’ll do a sprint and not a marathon. This is a marathon, not a spring. You have to take your time and be slow.”
Sparano was one of two 4A Greater St. Helens League bowlers to place in the top-4. Camas’ Kaeli Daniels didn’t just have a good day, coach Barb Burden said, but rather “an awesome day” by placing fourth (1,116). She had a trio of 200-plus games and her 186 average over six games is 30 pins higher than her 156 season average.
In fact, Daniels and Sparano sat 1-2 in the 4A race through four games. In her first state appearances, Daniels said nerves aided her in a new way.
“It pushed me to be better,” Daniels said.
Daniels is one of the unique bowlers at state, too. She’s strictly a school-bowler — no leagues or tournaments — but Friday’s performance has her re-thinking that route. Before the high school season began in November, she guessed the last time she bowled was June.
“Oh definitely,” she said. “I don’t want to stop bowling after high school.”