By BRETT MARSHALL
The Garden City Buffaloes boys bowling team had a commanding lead going into Monday's weather-delayed Western Athletic Conference tournament in Great Bend.
Less than two weeks earlier, the Buffs had struggled in a dual match with the host Panthers. But this time around, the Buffs made adjustments and captured 18 of the possible 21 team points and cruised to their first WAC title since 2010.
The Buffs boys finished with a season total of 70 points, while Great Bend was a distant second with 45, Liberal third with 34 and Dodge City fourth with 25.
On the girls side, the Lady Buffs weren't quite so fortunate, placing third at Monday's event, and finishing second in the season-long standings. Great Bend breezed to the girls title with 72 points, and the Lady Buffs had 52. Dodge City was third with 37 and Liberal rounded out the race with 13 points.
Jarett Landgraf led the Buffs' scoring on Monday, rolling a 643 series on a day where only two boys broke the 600-series level. Landgraf had opened with games of 187 and 180, before rolling a 276 in his final game.
"The boys had a great day, and Jarett was just really locked in that last game," head coach Kip Nichols said. "They did a good job of making adjustments from our last time there and it's to their credit. The kids had some new equipment and we practiced the oily shot before, and it paid off."
Tristan Funk was next with a 536 series, with a high game of 210. Mickey Bridges followed at 529 (212 high); Ryan Strecker was at 526 (209 high); and Karl Larson Jr. had a 513 (191 high).
The boys totaled 4,081 pins for the three-game series round and the Baker format. Great Bend was next at 3,890 and Liberal third at 3,691. Dodge City finished at 3,378.
"It was just a great team effort all the way around," Nichols said of the boys. "They've been consistent all season and today was no exception — couldn't be happier for this group."
The girls, though, struggled as Alexa Hemmert was the lone bowler to finish over 500 for the Lady Buffs. The junior, who was second individually for the season behind Great Bend's Miranda Hejny, had a 594 series on games of 233-188-173.
"She just didn't get the support that you need to do well as a team," Nichols said.
Great Bend had a total of 3,816 pins, while Dodge City was second at 3,512 and the Lady Buffs were at 3,340.
Jensen Strasser was second for Garden at 480, and Haily Parks followed with 462.
Funk, Landgraf and Kells finished in the top six individual standings for the league. Hemmert and Amanda Deihl were all-league on the girls side.
Next up for the Buffs will be the Class 6A regional on Tuesday at West Acres Bowl in Wichita. The boys will bowl at 10 a.m. and the girls will start at 1 p.m. A top-three finish will earn the Buffs trips to the state tournament on March 6 at North Rock Lanes in Wichita.
1. Garden City 4,081; 2. Great Bend 3,890; 3. Liberal 3,691; 4. Dodge City 3,378.
Garden City Results
Jarett Landgraf 187-180-276--643; Theron Kells 145-181-137--463; Tristan Funk 210-155-171--536; Mickey Bridges 148-212-169--529; Karl Larson Jr. 177-191-145--513; Ryan Strecker 209-169-148--526.
Alexa Hemmert 233-188-173--594; Haily Parks 145-171-146--462; Amanda Deihl 137-119-186--442; Emma Stoecklein 145-113-124--382; Jensen Strasser 144-166-170--480; Tansy Parks 152-175-126--453.