GCHS girls bowling heading to state as team

GCHS Athletics
Garden City High School's boys and girls bowling teams competed at regionals on Thursday, with the girls team finishing in second place and earnng a trip to the state tournament.

Resendiz, Strasser win regional titles

It goes without saying that nothing is as it seems on many occasions at a sporting competition.

Such could a case be made Thursday at West Acres Bowl in Wichita at the Class 6A regional qualifying tournament for the Garden City Buffaloes girls and boys bowling teams.

Here’s what transpired in the 3-game American 10-pin series along with four Baker game scores being the qualifying format for the teams. The American 10-pin series also served as the qualifying for individuals whose teams did not finish among the top two to advance to the March 5 state tournament at North Rock Lanes in Wichita.

The Lady Buffs team captured perhaps a somewhat surprising second place to earn their way to North Rock. The surprise, however, came in who led the way. Freshman Hope Resendiz had her finest day of competition in her first year of high school bowling, taking the top honors with a 645 series on games of 211-212-222. That total left her 31 pins ahead of runner-up Piper Reams of team champion Campus, and Kenzie Womack of Wichita Northwest, who finished tied at 614.

“The lanes provided a shot that plays well for her,” Nichols said. “It’s a shot you can’t overpower and she was just consistent by throwing more of a finesse shot.”

It was the first time Resendiz had posted a 600-plus series total in that format all season and it couldn’t have come at a more appropriate time, Nichols said.

“We had a good day, not a great day, and she certainly helped put us in position to qualify,” Nichols said. “We weren’t sure we were going to make it when we left the bowling alley.”

The Lady Buffs team shot a combined pin total of 2928 to finish 117 pins behind multiple defending state champion Campus’ 3045 and were 55 pins in front of WAC rival Dodge City’s 2873.

In the American 10-pin set, the Lady Buffs (using the best 4 of 6 scores in each game), rolled games of 763-703-737 for a 2203 total and then tacked on Baker scores (bowlers bowl 1 frame but not consecutively, all 6 can bowl or any combination of bowlers for the 10 frames). The Buffs had games of 184-185-200-151—725 to add into the other 3-game total.

Junior Holly Bridges, who had won her first WAC Bowler of the Year award last week, finished in the top 10 with a ninth-place position after rolling a 581 series on games of 223-176-182. After that, the Lady Buffs were all under the 500-pin level. Brooke Ptacek had a 492 (150-170-172), LilyAnn Leeper was at 471 (174-138-159), Rileigh Carr finished at 458 (152-145-161) and Jaelyn Grim had a 421 series (155-131-135).

“The girls have just been getting better each week this season,” Nichols said. “Every one of them contributed something in the 3-game set, and then we were just really consistent for the most part in the Baker set. They have had great chemistry and it really paid off today because we didn’t know how we stood until after we were done.”

On the boys side, Kaden Strasser came through with the big series of the day, rolling a 711 on games of 233-212-266, placing him 14 pins ahead of runner-up Tyler Smalley of Wichita Northwest who was at 697. Heading into the final game, Strasser was behind by 5 pins (450-445) but then rolled his 266 to Smalley’s 247 (+19 pins) for the eventual winning margin.

“He was just lights out today and took the team and put it on his shoulders and he very nearly got us qualified,” Nichols said. “He didn’t have a very good warm-up, but when we started it was like a light switch flipping on.”

While he didn’t have his best day, junior Kaden Whitehurst will have an opportunity to defend his individual state championship from 2020. Whitehurst, who just eight days prior had claimed the WAC Bowler of the Year award, finished with a 628 series on games of 220-181-227. That put him in the second individual spot to qualify behind Strasser for those bowlers whose teams did not qualify.

“He puts a lot of pressure on himself, but the thing he did today was to keep everybody up even when things weren’t going our best,” Nichols said. “I’m disappointed the boys didn’t make it, but especially I’m disappointed for Caleb (Carr) being the only senior.”

It was the Buffs’ boys who came home feeling the loss more than anybody as they had placed third at state a year ago and had nearly the entire roster returning, adding in Strasser to the lineup.

But the Buffs stumbled in both the American 10-pin series as well as the Baker format and came up 32 pins short of second-place Campus with a 3308 total to the Colts’ 3340. Wichita Northwest breezed to first place with a 3543 total.

“Bottom line, we didn’t do what we needed to do and that was not have a bad game,” Nichols said of the team’s second game 788 total, nearly 100 pins less than games one and three. “That’s been one of our real downfalls all season and it really bit us today.”

The Baker format was not particularly kind to the Buffs, either, as they only had one of four games over 200. Thirty-two pins spread out over the 3-game and Baker 4-games don’t seem like much, but it wasn’t enough to return the Buffs as a team to the state tournament.

This year, due to COVID-19 restrictions, there were 4 regionals with 2 teams qualifying as opposed to a normal year with 3 regionals with 3 teams advancing to state.

The Buffs opened solidly with an 883 total, but dropped nearly 100 pins to a 788 before rallying with an 884. But that nearly 100 pin difference was all it took for the Buffs to fall behind Campus. And in the Baker format, the Buffs struggled, too, shooting games of 172-234-167-180, with only that second game being in the range needed to put them in position to qualify.

None of the other four Buffs broke the 600-pin series level, with Caleb Carr in 15th at 574 (204-177-193), Ty Weilert in 16th at 566 (170-198-198) and Dionicio Resendiz at 548 (20th, 226-179-143). Jayce Farr was the final Buff at 535 (146-197-192).

But what did occur with the two medalists in Strasser and Resendiz is that in the history of the program dating back to 2005, the Buffs had never had two regional winners in the same season and only Alexis Leon in 2018 for the Lady Buffs had ever won a regional individual title. With the girls qualifying, Nichols has now had one or the other, or both, teams qualifying for state for just more than a decade.

The state tournament at North Rock Lanes will be on Friday, March 5. The girls will bowl in the morning session at 8:20 a.m., and the boys will bowl in the afternoon, beginning at 1:25 p.m. It will be the same format as regionals.