UNIVERSITY PLACE — There’s a place for fun and a place for competitive culture in bowling, but the Evergreen Plainsmen’s stress reached a new level Saturday.
But that stress of watching their 167-pin lead vanish only to regain it and have a see-saw barnburner the rest of the way with Wilson of Tacoma for the Class 3A state championship made Evergreen’s state crown Saturday even sweeter.
“It feels great — I love it,” said sophomore Kailee Wilcox. “We knew we had to bowl big to be able to get here and to be able to win and we managed to do it. I’m very proud of our team.”
Evergreen outlasted Wilson by 82 pins — 7590 to 7508 — at Narrows Plaza Bowl to capture what only two other bowling program’s have done in state history: win four titles in a row.
So, how does a four-peat sound?
“It sounds amazing,” senior Teryn Stine said. “It’s an incredible feeling.”
Incredible, too, for a number of reasons. Not only did Evergreen’s lead entering the day’s 14-game baker format vanish by the fourth baker, but the back-and-forth battle with Wilson never ended until Kailee Wilcox’s strike in the 10th frame sealed it.
It seemed fitting Evergreen’s motto of “It’s not how you bowl, it’s how you roll” came into play at state, particularly Saturday’s baker games. At one point, Evergreen dropped to second place, then led by two pins, trailed again after the fifth game, then regained a slim lead. It led Wilson by 80 pins the final baker game.
So, stressed much?
“We don’t like it when it’s this stressful,” said Wilcox, who placed 11th individually Friday. “When it is, you bowl good enough to see what you’re getting, then it’s worth it.”
Evergreen joins Battle Ground (2012-15) and Mark Morris (2015-18) as the state’s only programs to win four consecutive state titles since the WIAA instated bowling in 1999. No team has won five in a row.
But four in a row is a feat the Plainsmen are proud of, not just for themselves, but adding to the collection of successes in athletics this school year for Evergreen.
“This has been a great year for Evergreen,” Stine said. “It’s a big deal.”
State championships are all Stine knows. She’s been part of Evergreen’s program all four years — joining fellow senior Karina Johnsen — as the two team’s two seniors with four state titles to their names. This title, though, felt special in other ways because of how Evergreen won it, Stine said.
“We had to work harder for it,” she said.
What Stine means by that is unlike last season when Evergreen’s experienced team rolled comfortably to a 598-pin victory for its third title, there was some uncertainty with new, young faces to start November. Wilcox, their sophomore who won the 3A district title, leads the team in average (177) on a team that placed third in the 3A Greater St. Helens League.
But freshman Alexis Clark is very familiar with Evergreen’s rich tradition of bowling success. That’s why she was stoked to join the team for her first season of high school bowling, and a program that continues to leave its footprint at state.
“They’re one of the best,” Clarke said.
Also in 3A, Prairie placed fifth (7255) a day after Anna Gatlin’s sixth-place finish led the Falcons individually Friday.
In Class 4A, Skyview earned this place (6929) for its highest finish in program history. Emerald Ridge of Puyallup captured its first 4A team title (7320), and Pasco was second (6959).
4A state tournament
At Narrows Plaza Bowl
Final team results — Emerald Ridge 7320, Pasco 6959, Skyview 6929, Cascade (Everett) 6730, Chiawana 6693, Wenatchee 6658, South Kitsap 6651, Decatur 6508.
3A state tournament
At Narrows Plaza Bowl
Final team results — Evergreen 7590, Wilson 7508, Lakes 7413, Kennewick 7263, Prairie 7255, Shelton 6621, Spanaway Lake 6373, West Seattle 6371.