When there are three pins lurking at the other end of the lane and you need one person to knock them down, the Free State High girls bowling team just might have your answer.
Her name is Michelle Scheiffer, but you can call her The Spare Queen.
“Sometimes we call her that,” said Free State senior Christina Picicci. “I mean, her first game tonight was all spares.”
That’s right. Ten times during her opening game Scheiffer stepped to the line with pins still standing, and 10 times she sent her red and white enemies tumbling to the ground. The result was a rather impressive 181.
“They all sit there and say, ‘Oooh, I want to get a strike,’” Free State coach Anita Carlson said. “But you don’t need one to get a decent score.”
Added Picicci: “We always say spares take more talent to get than strikes.”
Sure, Scheiffer recorded her share of strikes on the night. Any bowler worth the suede on her shoes should pick up a couple of big, bold X’s in 30 frames. But even after racking up a 182 in Game 2 and a 181 in Game 3 — for a 544 series that helped pace the FSHS girls to a second-place finish at Tuesday’s home quad at Royal Crest Lanes — all Scheiffer wanted to talk about was her remarkable consistency.
“I just stayed focused the whole night,” she said. “I was actually really surprised that I was able to stay so focused because usually I’m a lot more inconsistent.”
Her steady wrist along with Picicci’s 562 series — which included a team-high 214 in Game 2 — helped the Firebirds challenge for the top spot with a team total of 2,004. Lansing rolled a 2,017 to take home first place.
“That’s still really awesome that we were that close,” Picicci said. “But 13 pins, that’s just one more spare and it could’ve come from anyone.”
Gretal Briand (449), Liz Love (449), Allyson Butler (421) and Sarah Perala (326) rounded out the scores for Free State’s varsity girls.
On the boys side of things Tuesday, Free State senior Rob Wagner rolled the high series for the entire quad (679, with a high-game of 266) and helped the Firebirds finish in first place as a team.
Wagner opened the day with eight straight strikes in Game 1 en route to his 266. He followed that up with a 211 in the second and a 202 in the third.
“It was just working for me,” he said. “It was a good day.”
Wagner was followed in the scoring by Justin Walthall (572), Nick Conrad (566), Adam Miltner (562), Connor King (536) and Joel Bonner (515).
The FSHS boys finished with a team score of 2,379, 71 pins ahead of second-place Olathe Northwest.
Despite narrowly watching her girls miss out on the team title and seeing some of her boys post scores lower than expected, Carlson said she was thrilled with her squad’s effort. Furthermore, she said she looked forward to watching them improve the rest of the way.
“We are right where we want to be,” Carlson said. “And the best part is they all know where and what they need to work on to improve. They had a good day today. And what I liked the most was the camaraderie and how they supported each other, and that really showed in the way they bowled.”