UNIVERSITY PLACE — Without a doubt, the end result of the Class 3A state bowling championship exceeded Prairie’s expectations, simply because the Falcons didn’t know what to expect when the season began a couple months ago.
Prairie senior Lilly Bash won the individual state championship with a 781 pin score across four games Thursday at Narrows Plaza Bowl, senior teammate Karley Wold-Hayes finished fifth with 738 pins and the Falcons placed third as a team with 4706 pins, trailing state champion Spanaway Lake (4887), Kennewick (4734) and ahead of fourth-place Evergreen (4666).
Bash rolled games of 223 and 221, the latter of which came in the decisive fourth game and included five straight strikes, helping secure first place. Kelso’s Emily Strehle knocked down 765 pins for second place.
“I didn’t really expect it,” Bash said after her win. “I just showed up, did what I knew how to do and I’m glad that was enough … I wasn’t really trying to look at everyone’s scores, just because that kind of freaks me out sometimes, but I kind of had an idea I’d be in the top 12. Just no clue that I’d get first.”
Beyond Bash and Wold-Hayes, both four-year bowlers, Prairie had exactly zero varsity bowling experience going into the season. Coaches Rhonda and Donn Bash were concerned the team might not field a full team, with just two bowlers to start and three by the second game.
Rhonda Bash, who also teaches at Prairie, convinced senior twins Katie Postma and Carley Postma to join the team, then asked the school’s physical education teacher to hand out fliers to girls in the classes, hoping to add a few more to the roster. The Falcons went from three to 11 bowlers soon after, enough to have a full lineup for their third match of the season against Evergreen.
“It really was a rags-to-riches kind of story,” Rhonda Bash said.
The Falcons’ lineup Thursday consisted of Bash, Wold-Hayes, Jordan Quick, Katie and Carley Postma. All five played a key part in the Falcons’ third-place effort.
Prairie was in fifth place midway through the four morning games, but climbed the leaderboard heading into the 10 baker games thanks to the performances of its experienced bowlers, Lilly Bash and Wold-Hayes, who averaged a team-high 186 this season.
“Beyond my wildest imagination,” Rhonda Bash said of the team’s finish.
“You can imagine that just even getting here was a huge accomplishment. To bring home a trophy is just incredible. I’ve got goosebumps.”
Lilly Bash became the sixth individual state champion from Clark County in state history, joining Evergreen’s Kerissa Andersen and Battle Ground’s Wylicia Faley, both two-time champions, as well as Skyview’s Madison Crockett, Evergreen’s Ashli Mortensen and Battle Ground’s Rachel Kreighbaum.
“Not only being Lilly’s coach, but her mom, it was very special for me,” said Rhonda Bash. “I’m just proud beyond belief that she was able to stay in the game and be herself, come through and perform. And especially Karley, she’s had a great season, and to have the reward of all that hard work, determination, to have it pay off is just heartwarming.”
Evergreen, last week’s district champion, was looking to add to its decorated trophy case highlighted by four straight state championships between 2017 and 2020.
Through three games Thursday, Evergreen sat in second place, just three pins behind the leader, Spanaway Lake. Then, a 691 in the fourth game dropped the team to fourth place heading into the bakers.
Evergreen was unable to climb the leaderboard from there, but to its credit, finished the long day on a high note, rolling a team-high 189 in its 10th and final baker with five straight strikes between the second and sixth frames.
“We just had one bad game,” Evergreen coach Robin Bailey said. “The bakers they were really consistent on and they hung in there. But I think that one game just kind of got us back behind the curve.”
Evergreen will graduate three seniors including Kailee Wilcox, who had three district championships in a row and was also part of Evergreen’s state championship streak starting as a freshman. Soreya Novotny and Sarah Mikkelsen will also be graduating.
“They’ve all had a huge impact on our team,” Bailey said. “We’ve had a really long run of success and I’m so proud of them.”
Kierra Wilcox, Kailee’s younger sister, led Evergreen through four games with a 688 pin score to place 11th individually. The junior will be one of the mainstays for Evergreen next year as it looks to retool and continue the program’s run of success.
“We’re just going to back and rebuild each year, as we always have to do, and get ourselves another championship,” Bailey said.
3A STATE CHAMPIONSHIP
At Narrows Plaza Bowl,
Team scores — 1, Spanaway Lake 4887; 2, Kennewick 4734; 3, Prairie 4706; 4, Evergreen 4666.
Top local individuals — 1, Lilly Bash, Prairie (166-223-171-221) 781; 2, Emily Strehle, Kelso (196-171-189-209) 765; 5, Karley Wold-Hayes, Prairie (198-189-180-171) 738; 11, Kierra Wilcox, Evergreen (173-161-180-174) 688.
Local team results
PRAIRIE — Lilly Bash 781, Karley Wold-Hayes 738, Kasumi Hori (128-121-168-139) 556, Katie Postma (106-175-130-145) 556, Carley Postma (110-138-115-181) 555.
EVERGREEN — Kierra Wilcox 688, Kailee Wilcox (158-187-157-159) 661, Soreya Novotny (131-190-174-112) 607, Alexis Clarke (155-141-132-152) 580, Sarah Mikkelsen (145-143- 161-94) 543.
KELSO — Emily Strehle 765, Lydda Aguilar (135-116-134-124) 509.
MOUNTAIN VIEW — Maya Peterson (158-131-112-127) 528.
HERITAGE — Mia Caggianese (115-115-118-113) 461.