What is better than one statebound bowling team? Two statebound bowling teams.
Garden City's boys' and girls' bowling teams earned their way to the state tournament Friday, after each team finished second behind Haysville-Campus at the 6A regional tournament at The Alley in Hutchinson.
The boys had two top-10 finishers with senior Brayden Pickett finishing sixth with a 643, and on the girls' side, junior Karly Larson finished third with a score of 599.
“It was a little bit expected on the girls’ side, and a pleasant surprise on the boys' side,” said GCHS coach Kip Nichols.
The boys haven't been as dominant as the girls this season, so a trip to state wasn't as expected for the boys, but their solid performance on Friday changed that.
“We were tickled to death to have a second-place finish today,” Nichols said. “...The boys managed to put together decent scores, not great scores, but decent scores and keep themselves in the running for a state spot.”
In his last season, Bicket wanted to get a shot at a state title, and after his performance on Friday, that’s exactly what he and the Buffaloes will get.
“I thought I did really well. I knew I would finish in the top 10 with that score, just based on the conditions, but I was way more pleased that we're going as a team,” said the senior. “This being my last year, this is everything I could have wanted from these regionals.”
Garden City has built up quite a rivalry with Haysville-Campus, and Bicket thinks the Buffaloes can catch them at the state tournament.
“It feels really good because I know we have Campus on their heels. They know that we can beat them. If we can just put it all together at the same time, I think we’d be a force to be reckoned with.”
While the Buffaloes are happy with the second-place finish, they had a real chance to catch the Colts, but finished just short at the finish line.
“Once we got into Baker (play), we drew Campus, who eventually ended up as the regional champions, and were down 65 pins or so,” Nichols said.
“After dropping the first game, handedly, the boys then bowed their backs and got it done. Campus fell apart, we had them down to 30 pins at one point, but just couldn't close the door on them at the end of the tournament.”
Unlike the boys, the girls were considered one of the favorites to earn a state berth, as they walked through the regular season WAC crown only losing 4 points all season. The day started a little shaky, however, making Nichols a little nervous.
“It was a little bit frightening when we started today because we went in and shot 675 in the first game, which is terrible for us. Probably one of the worst scores we’ve shot all season long," Nichols said. "I thought, 'We're going to dig ourselves a whole we can't get out of.”
Even after a slow start for the girls, they were able to maintain their poise and earn themselves a trip to state.
“Then when I looked at the rest of the scores, I noticed we were in second after the first game. Campus had only shot 762. Then I realized we weren't in as bad a shape as I had originally thought. We were still 30-40 pins ahead of third,” Nichols said.
Nichols said he was proud of the girls, not only for the dominant season so far, but also for their resiliency on Friday.
“We shot about 60-70 pins under our team average for the season, and I think that's very indicative that shows we didn't have a good day," he said. "For us to battle through and still come out where we did, it says so much about the character of the young ladies who bowl for us.”
Two other Buffalo girls finished in the top 10 as Ryleigh Whitehurst was seventh and Alexis Leon finished 10th.
With what the Buffaloes were able to accomplish on Friday and with the state tournament a week away, Nichols is excited for what both of his teams can accomplish.
“I believe we're capable of both placing at state, and if things go right for us, we can be bringing home a couple of state championships next week," he said. "That’s not out of the question by any means.”