By BRETT MARSHALL
WICHITA — Perhaps Garden City High School's boys bowling team performance here on Thursday morning at North Rock Lanes reflected the gloomy, foggy weather that greeted the area earlier in the day.
The Buffs, seeking to meet or exceed last year's third-place trophy-winning finish, came up well short as they just couldn't find their mark in the three-game series, eventually settling for seventh-place among the nine competing teams.
The Buffs totaled 2,491 pins for the three-game set, rolling an 800, 847 and 844, while the team championship was captured by Wichita Northwest, which totaled 2,757 pins. Derby (2,713) and Junction City (2,699) rounded out the top-three trophy teams.
And the struggles continued into the afternoon for the two Lady Buffs — Alexa Hemmert and Haily Park — who had series' of 525 and 499 to place 26th and 36th individually.
"It was just a tough day for us," said senior Jarett Landgraf, whose 643 series placed him 24th, just four spots out of the top 20 medal winners. "We'd have a couple of frames where we'd be down, then a few frames that went well, and we couldn't sustain the consistency that you need."
Landgraf, who had bowled with the Buffs as a sophomore then opted for wrestling in 2013, had games of 199-220-224 en route to his series total.
Theron Kells and Tristan Funk placed 28th and 29th, respectively, with series totals of 626 and 621. Kells had games of 202-223-201 while Funk had games of 197-199-225. Mickey Bridges and Karl Larson Jr. were in the middle of the pack, placing 42nd and 45th with totals of 578 and 569. Bridges had games of 181-205-192 while Larson rolled a 202-173-194. Rounding out the Buffs was Ryan Strecker, 67th at 488 (148-163-177).
"We just couldn't seem to find our shot, and that shouldn't have been a problem as we've bowled here before," Landgraf said. "It didn't seem like we had our normal energy from the start. When you come here and bowl average, it's not good enough. You can't bowl average here and do well. And we were average."
For coach Kip Nichols, it was a tough way to see one of the best seasons in school history come to an end.
"We just couldn't put strings (of strikes) together and you have to have strings to go anywhere here," Nichols said. "There's no slouches here at this tournament."
While Nichols said many teams might be happy with a 2,491 series, it was far from what was needed on a day that say high scores as the rule rather than the exception.
To compare it to a year ago, the Buffs shot 2,588 in finishing third in 2013 while the winning score a year ago for the team race was 2,674, which would have been fourth on Thursday.
Individually, Derby's Noah Brooks edged Tristan Musick of Olathe North, rolling a series of 734 (289-224-221) to Musick's 729 (268-234-227). Five bowlers broke the 700-pin barrier and it took a 681 to place in the top 10. The 20th spot was occupied with a 650 total. In 2013, a top 20 finish was at 621.
Nichols said his two girls just couldn't get any momentum built throughout the three-game set, either, but said both competed well.
"You're always hoping for your kids to do well at state," Nichols said. "You want them to have a good experience. We've got a lot of kids back next year. We've had a very good season and something to build on for next year."
Hemmert had games of 162-175-188 while Park fired games of 187-129-183 for her total.
"It just seemed like we couldn't get it going," Nichols said. "The lane conditions were about what I expected after practice on Wednesday."
Olathe North won the team title easily with a 2,393 total while runner-up Topeka-Washburn Rural had 2,282. Individually, Ashton Anderson of Washburn Rural had a 662 and Hannah Hull of Wichita Southeast took second at 654. It took a 561 series to place in the top 20 for a medal.