Bobcats’ expectations go unmet at third straight state meet

DES MOINES – Most teams would be thrilled to match the success of the Marshalltown High School boys bowling program.

The Bobcats aren’t like most teams.

With three state tournament berths and a pair of top-5 finishes to its name, the MHS boys bowling team was left wanting more after a ninth-place finish at the Class 2A State Tournament at Plaza Lanes Tuesday.

Though their final tally of 3,016 didn’t match up with their best performances, MHS first-year coach Jeremiah McKeever didn’t want his squad to forget the season as a whole.

“I’m really proud of them. They had a really solid year,” McKeever said. “They can’t hang their heads, we’re one of 10 teams that made it to state out of 40.”

Coming in with the fourth best qualifier score in Class 2A, the Bobcats struggled to find their momentum at times Tuesday.

“We were about 60 pins off our season average and you can’t come into the state tournament shooting average,” McKeever said. “You’ve got to really step up and come to the plate and we just didn’t have it today. Every time we’d get a string going, we’d just catch a bad break.”

Davenport North rose to the occasion with three bowlers placing in the top five to cruise to the their second team title in the last three years with a score of 3,633 – 272 pins ahead of runner-up Ottumwa. Individual champion Zach Fries led the winning Wildcats with a perfect opening game and finished with a 555 series while Bryan Cline of Cedar Rapids Washington took runner-up (503).

Marshalltown’s Grant Whitmore flirted with perfection in his second game opening with nine strikes, before coming up just short in the tenth frame for a 265. Whitmore led the Bobcats with a 464 series to place 13th individually.

“I just didn’t have enough speed on that last ball, otherwise it was a great shot,” Whitmore said of his near perfect game. “We could have done a lot better, but it felt great to bowl with these guys one last time.”

Whitmore was one of four seniors on this year’s varsity squad that will need to be replaced, while the Bobcats lose 12 seniors overall from their 23-member roster.

“Grant has been solid all year,” McKeever said. “He really stepped it up today. He’s always confident up there and never lets anything else bother him.”

The Bobcats’ next two finishers – sophomore Floyd Speck (435) and junior Brett Wax (394) provided a preview of next year’s squad.

“Those guys have shown a lot of promise,” Whitmore said of the Bobcat duo. “They’re good bowlers and if both of them improve over the offseason, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Bobcats come back (to state). We’ve still got some pretty good guys on JV.”

Making his third appearance at Plaza Lanes, Dacoda Ewalt tallied a 386, while Aaron Schwandt (365) and Kyle Bartles (292) also represented Marshalltown.

While the Bobcats didn’t finish as high as they hoped, McKeever couldn’t discount the importance of returning to state – and the experience and motivation Speck, Wax and the rest of the team can take away from it moving forward.

“Making it to state again really pushes everyone else. They want to show that they can do it too,” McKeever said. “With Floyd and Brett coming back, we’re going to have a pretty solid team. I’m looking forward to next year.”

Waterloo West won the girls team title with a score of 3,152, finishing 113 pins ahead of runner-up Ottumwa. The Wahawks’ Alexus Wilson claimed individual honors with a series score of 503, while Des Moines Lincoln’s Brittany Smith (474) earned runner-up.