By JASON ELMQUIST
Kip Nichols had never seen it before. Neither had the members of the Garden City High School boys bowling team.
A tie in a triangular. Garden City 2,386 pins... Great Bend 2,386 pins.
"How we ever ended up — after 12 kids bowling three games each — after 36 games of bowling, how we ended up in a dead-heat tie is beyond me," Nichols, the GCHS coach said. "But it has become a great teachable moment for me as a coach, because now I can emphasize that point real strong how important every single pin we shoot is. When you end up tying a match, it really makes that a glaring reality that those pins are so important. Every last one of them."
Leading the way for the Buffaloes was senior captain Dylan Burns, who bowled a 621 series — the only 600-plus series by Garden City. Right behind him was Juan Ramirez, who shot a 594.
"The boys showed me some heart," Nichols said. "That match was getting really, really tight coming down and they could see that their opponent was bowling well and they stepped up and did their job."
Adding to the frustration of the Garden City boys was being unable to get over the hump against Great Bend. Last year, in their home dual with the Panthers, the Buffaloes fell by six pins.
"(Great Bend) always comes in and beats us by five pins or three pins or something like that and it gets really frustrating," Burns said. "Then to come into a new year, with a fresh start, and end in a tie is just even more frustrating. It's horrible."
On the girls side, the Lady Buffaloes were off their game, finishing 42 pins behind Great Bend, which scored a 2,073.
"We're really disappointed because that's only four marks and any one of us could have made those four marks and we could have beat them," said GCHS girls captain Audree Roth, who finished with a 482 series. "So we all just need to work on our spares a lot more. We're all really down on ourselves right now."
Rikkie Hemmert was the lone Garden City girl bowler to break 500, with a 533. Ashley Kells had a 495. The Lady Buffs lone state qualifier from a year ago, Erika Motley, finished just behind Roth with a 479, while Morgan Landgraf bowled a 441 series.
"I was real disappointed with how the girls bowled today," Nichols said. "A week ago, we bowled over at Garden Bowl against Holcomb and Liberal and really bowled a nice solid match — shot a 2,231. The girls hit the lanes today and for whatever reason, it was like I showed them the bowling ball for the first time."
For Nichols, he feels Tuesday's performance by his girls squad was more of a mental thing than anything else.
"Like I just told the team, physically you're bowling machines," Nichols said. "It's that thing you are rattling around on top of your shoulders that isn't right right now. It's in their head, for whatever reason it is."
Holcomb's girls finished third in the three-team match with a team total of 1,933. Holcomb's Carey Watters finished with the best overall score in the triangular — 555 — thanks to opening with 212 in the first game. Sammantha Wilken also broke 500 for the Lady Longhorns as she finished with a 502.
The Holcomb boys were led by a 541 series by Chris Foreman and a 528 series by Dylan Knoll. Ryan Wilson was the only other Holcomb bowler to break 500 with a 508 as the Longhorns finished with a team total of 2,081.
Holcomb and Garden City will face off in a dual on Thursday at 3:30 p.m. at Garden Bowl.
Team Results — Great Bend 2,073; Garden City 2,031; Holcomb 1,933.
GCHS Results — Rikkie Hemmert 533; Ashley Kells 495; Audree Roth 482; Erika Motley 479; Morgan Landgraf 441; Jennifer St. Clair 364.
Holcomb Results — Carey Watters 555; Sammantha Wilken 502; Shannae Carmen 476; Hayley Walck 398; Ashley Foreman 362; Violet Ruiz 359.
Team Results — Garden City 2,386; Great Bend 2,386; Holcomb 2,081.
GCHS Results — Dylan Burns 621; Juan Ramirez 594; Jared Powers 562; Jacob Brungardt 561; Justin Perez 543; Ryan Bordewick 506.
Holcomb Results — Chris Foreman 541; Dylan Knoll 528; Ryan Wilson 508; Brian Green 451; Levi Swann 448; Brendon Pfeifer 413.