State-savvy pair set bar for MHS

Change is apparent across the board for the Marshalltown boys bowling team but its end goal remains the same.

Seeking replacements in its lineup after the graduation of four varsity mainstays, the Bobcats enter 2013-14 with a proven pair to build around under the direction of its third head coach in as many years.

Junior Floyd Speck and senior Brett Wax return from last year’s ninth-place squad that competed at the Class 2A state meet for the third straight season.

Roger Taylor Sr. takes over the reins for Jeremiah McKeever and is hoping to keep the state meet run alive. McKeever held the post for a year after Taylor’s son, Roger Taylor Jr., manned the position for three years.

Speck (435) and Wax (394) finished second and third, respectively, in the Bobcat lineup at Plaza Lanes and will be joined by senior Calvin Halvorsen to form a proven trio at the top of the 16-member roster.

“Floyd, Brett and Calvin have been having a great year so far,” said Taylor Sr., who runs the pro shop at Totem Bowl. “Those three are the core of our varsity. They seem to have a pretty upbeat attitude that they’ll carry the rest (of the lineup) with them.”

Sophomore Brandon Freese leads a group of six other varsity hopefuls, which also includes seniors Severio Mancieri, Gavin Huntley and Austin Sowers, junior Max Mancieri and sophomore Caleb Hala. The Bobcats will look for their top players to set the tone after the departure of Grant Whitmore, Dacoda Ewalt, Aaron Schwandt and Kyle Bartles.

Wax and Speck finished 12th and 16th, respectively, in the Central Iowa Conference meet last winter and will be aided by several newcomers rising up from last season’s successful JV team.

“Our top three can pull the other four, five or six guys up,” said Taylor Sr., who believes another state appearance is well within the reach of this year’s unit. “Once we get into competition and the rest of them get a taste of what it means, they’ll be able to see the carrot at the end of the stick. They’ll have a better vision of what we’re trying to achieve.”

Taylor Sr., who previously coached the Marshalltown club team for four seasons, is making pin count an early point of emphasis.

“We’re trying to show them the importance of pin count on spares and split counts,” said Taylor Sr., who is joined by assistants Andy Schwandt and Stacy Galema. “The strikes will come but the spares are what build your average.”

The Bobcats earned an at-large bid to state last year after placing second in their regional meet with the fourth-best qualifying score of 3,207. MHS also had the fourth-highest match score average in 2A (3,079) heading into the season finale.

Marshalltown will need some time to build its experience in their pursuit of another trek to Plaza Lanes though Taylor Sr. and his players are excited for the challenge.

“I love to teach. I don’t know much but I know bowling and I love to share it with everybody,” said Taylor Sr. “This group of kids really wants to learn.”

It won’t be a big learning curve for the Bobcats’ top three though as Taylor Sr. believes Speck, Wax and Halvorsen could all vie for an individual state title and help MHS in its pursuit to the top of the podium.

“Those three have an opportunity to get the singles title,” said Taylor Sr. “We’ve got some history and we’ve got some unfinished business. We’ve got to go to state and get our trophy.”

Marshalltown kicks off the campaign against Newton at the Totem Bowl on Tuesday at 3:45 p.m.