By JASON ELMQUIST
Garden City High School bowlers Audree Roth and Justin Perez aim to make school history this Thursday and Friday at the Class 6A state bowling tournament at Northrock Lanes in Wichita with the goal of becoming the first GCHS bowler to medal.
"I put the challenge out to them — if one of you gets in the top, you'll get to shave my head and if both of you do, Audree, I'm still going to wear that dress in your fashion show with my shaved head," GCHS coach Kip Nichols said. "Because I think both of them are very capable. ... I'm optimistic because both of these kids are gamers and intense when they are on the lanes and I think that they will do well when they get into that situation."
For Perez, it's been an emotional couple of weeks with losing his grandmother in mid-February to now qualifying for state.
"It's just an emotional year for me," said Perez, whose team was three pins shy of joining him. "As I told my coach, it's the most emotional, hardest season we've had and probably the most successful out of all of them. It's all around a great experience for everybody."
For Roth, making history is nothing new. The senior bowler was the first Garden City girls bowler to qualify for state, coming in her sophomore season.
"I feel really good because it's my second time," Roth said. "My first time was really cool because I was the first person to go to state for bowling and now it's just like icing on the cake."
Meanwhile, Holcomb's Ryan Wilson is already making history. Wilson is Holcomb's first state qualifier in the two-year history of the program and will bowl Thursday at Northrock Lanes in the Class 5-1A state tournament.
"I'm pretty excited," Wilson said. "I tried to get the program started a few years ago and they didn't really think we needed one. But they finally did it and here I am going to state."
The experience will be huge for Wilson, but his coach plans on taking several other bowlers to get an understanding of what it will take for Holcomb to reach the state level.
"Our kids are going to get to watch him bowl and see what we are trying to achieve here," Holcomb coach Lindall Cox said. "It should be exciting for us. ... We had several kids who were close to qualifying and this is definitely going to encourage them to bowl in the offseason and in bowling leagues.
"We want to be competitive and learn to compete in bowling and we still have a ways to go to be able to do that. But Ryan getting to go is an honor for him, especially as a senior."