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Archive for Sunday, February 26, 2006

Firebirds bowl way into state

Free State boys advance with solid regional effort

February 26, 2006

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A yell of "Free State" was easily heard over the clapping and cheering throughout Royal Crest Lanes following Saturday's regional bowling tournament.

After the coaches meeting adjourned, Firebirds boss Anita Carlson walked over to her team - which had been waiting anxiously - and told the Firebirds that the boys squad would be returning to the state tournament.

The third-place finishers - with a 2,270-pin total - then huddled together and had the bowling alley echoing with a roar of "Free State."

"It's a good day, because we got our state berth," Carlson said. "The boys struggled a little bit, but held it together enough to get their state berth."

FSHS was led by Mike Herschell's 654 series. His 218 average was the second-highest boys score for the tournament.

"The lanes were perfect," Herschell said. "I missed a few spares here and there, but a 654 is good."

The girls' 1,885 was only good enough for a fifth-place finish, despite strong performances by Melissa Burnside (537) and Lindsay Vannicola (496).

The pair bowled strong enough to join the boys team Saturday in Wichita for state.

"Realistically, both of them probably knew that chances of getting a state berth ... they were not favorites for the top positions," Carlson said. "So I'm really excited for them. And now we'll have to take two buses instead of just one."

An ecstatic Burnside said she was thankful to have a fellow female bowler going to state with her - especially having it be Vannicola.

"It's really important, because Lindsay keeps me from getting down, and she keeps me in a good mood and keeps me bowling well," Burnside said.

The Firebirds' crosstown rivals didn't have much success. Neither of Lawrence High's teams qualified for an appearance at state.

The LHS girls figured to have the best chance, but their score of 1,898 pins was 59 pins behind the third and final qualifying slot.

The Lions had to settle for Jessica Wyatt's 534 series, making her the school's lone state qualifier.

"She was consistent throughout the day," LHS coach Greg Farley said. "Her greatest asset as a bowler is her consistency and her ability to not let one or two bad frames impact her for the rest of the game."

Although Wyatt isn't lucky enough to have a teammate with her at state, she said she still would be able to hold her own.

"I was really hoping to have some people go along with me and not be so lonely, but I'll make it through it," Wyatt said.

The Lawrence boys' top finisher was Olson Kilmer with a 536 series, 25 pins shy of a top-six finish and a state berth.

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