By BRETT MARSHALL
The Garden City Buffaloes' boys bowling team will return to the Class 6A state bowling tournament on March 6 after qualifying in the second-place position at Thursday's regional tournament at West Acres Bowl in Wichita.
The Buffs finished behind Wichita Northwest in the three-game series competition, but now they will head to North Rock Lanes for the state, where they placed third in 2013.
In addition to the boys team making its return to state, two girls — Alexa Hemmert and Haily Park — qualified as individuals and also will compete for individual honors next week.
"We didn't bowl our best, but it was good enough and in the long run that's the most important thing," head coach Kip Nichols said Thursday night. "We didn't get off to a good start and I told the boys at this rate, they wouldn't be coming back to Wichita for the state."
The Buffs opened with an 839 total, using the best four of six individual scores. They rallied and moved from fourth to second with a 911 game and then closed out with a 760, which despite being considerably lower, was good enough to hold their place, ahead of Dodge City (third) and Wichita East (fourth).
"It was a good day in the sense we qualified the boys," Nichols said. "But I would have liked for us to bowl better than we did. We'll have to be better, a lot better, next week to compete."
And while the boys punched their ticket to the state, it was a disappointing day for the girls, outside of the two individual qualifiers.
The Lady Buffs had game totals of 697-681-769 for a 2,147 and finished 51 pins out of the third spot, occupying the fifth place team position.
"We just could never get the third and fourth bowlers untracked to have good games," Nichols said. "I know they're disappointed. It was just a tough day for the girls."
On the boys side, Jarett Landgraf led the way with a 663 series (233-225-205), good for sixth overall while Tristan Funk was next at 627 (211-234-182), earning him a 10th place medal. Theron Kells was close behind at 625 (203-245-177) to round out the 600-plus bowlers.
Karl Larson Jr. rolled a 569 with games of 192-183-194; Ryan Strecker had a 533 (171-207-155) and Mickey Bridges rounded out the scores at 531 (183-169-179).
For the girls, Hemmert topped the list with a 584 series on games of 162-190-232 to place fifth and Haily Park had a 562 (182-180-200), earning her the last individual qualifying spot.
"I'm happy that we got the two girls in, but it was disappointing that we couldn't get the team going at all," Nichols said.
Amanda Deihl had a 531 (189-154-188), Emma Stoecklein a 448 (164-148-136), Jensen Strasser a 438 (162-157-119) and Tansy Park at 428 (130-149-149).