OLATHE — Free State High's girls bowling team wasn't worried about how any of the opposing teams or individuals were performing at the Sunflower League meet on Tuesday at Mission Bowl 'N Olathe.
As long as the Firebirds had some healthy competition going on between themselves, they knew they'd be fine.
Everything went according to plan for the Free State girls, as made their way to the awards podium at the end of the meet following a third-place finish.
"We just try our best and we believe in ourselves," Nikki Miele said. "That's what always keeps us going."
2018 Sunflower League Bowling
The Free State girls bowling team made its way to the awards podium on Tuesday with a third-place finish at the Sunflower League meet. Nikki Miele (fourth place, 598 series) and Lexie Lockwood (10th, 543) both earned league medals. The Firebirds had the second-highest score in the four Baker games to move into the top three. Lawrence High finished fifth with Holly Evans (sixth, 581), Ashley Dykes (seventh, 563), Diamonique Vann (eighth, 558) and Emilie Rodman (ninth, 551) all finishing as medalists. Lawrence’s Jayden Cress (eighth, 623) and Free State’s Bayn Schrader (10th, 609) both earned league medals on the boys side. The LHS and FSHS boys finished fourth and 11th, respectively, in the team standings.
Miele blew her season-best series of 531 from the Free State Invitational out of the water, as she finished with a fourth-place series of 598. Although Miele was pleased with her personal effort and the team's performance, there was still another goal in mind during the third game that she fell just short of.
"Yeah," Miele sighed. "Just to get that 600 (series)."
The big game for Miele came in the second with a score of 246, and she was still steady in the first and third with respective scores of 177 and 175. Miele took the 'If it ain't broke, don't fix it' philosophy after she found her groove, and it paid off.
"Just continuing the same thing over and over again," Miele said. "I was staying consistent."
Miele had plenty of help in guiding the Firebirds to third place. Lexie Lockwood cracked the top 10 with a 543 series to earn a league medal. Lockwood was locked in early with a score of 213 in Game 1.
Sapphie Knight surged out of the gates with a Game 1 score of 202, which helped her to a 496 series. Knight was one of three bowlers to finish with a final total 496 along with teammate Gabbie McCurdy.
The final two Firebirds weren't far behind. Sydney Jordan and Raegan Finkeldei finished 31st and 32nd with respective series of 485 and 481.
The collective team effort by the Firebirds carried over into the four Baker games that concluded the meet, as they posted scores of 138, 157, 169 and 221 to finish with a final total of 685. The only team with a higher Baker total was Olathe North. The Eagles edged SM Northwest by three pins for the league championship.
Defending league champion Lawrence High still was only 30 pins back of SM Northwest going into Baker.
The Lions packed four bowlers in the top 10, and they were only separated by 30 total pins. Holly Evans led the Lions with a sixth-place series of 581 after throwing games of 207, 180 and 194. Ashley Dykes (seventh place, 563 series), 2017 league champion Diamonique Vann (eighth, 558) and Emilie Rodman (ninth, 551) also took home some hardware as league medalists.
The momentum carried over for the Lions into the first Baker game, as they led all teams with a score of 185. However, the Lions went into a slump for the final three games with scores of 144, 141 and 141. The Lions' struggles mixed with strong finishes from Olathe East, Olathe North and Free State sent them from second to fifth by the end of the Baker games.
"I thought the girls did really well in the first three games. We positioned ourselves very well and then just fell apart in the Baker," LHS coach Paula Bastemeyer said. "We hit the pocket, made a split and we just weren't carrying. We didn't do particularly bad. We would spare, but it's hard to go up with somebody who is shooting two to three strikes in a row."
With Tuesday's Class 6A regional meet at Royal Crest Lanes also having the same format as league, Bastemeyer assured that the Lions will be spending some time in practice playing Baker games.
"They've got to recognize the pressure they're under because if someone beside you is shooting … I think Olathe East shot like a 249 one game," Bastemeyer said. "It gets loud and it gets discouraging and you've got to work through that. You've got to be able to focus on your own score and your own bowling."
LHS boys 4th, FSHS 11th
Lawrence's Jayden Cress and Free State's Bayn Schrader both cracked the top 10 in the boys individual standings to earn league medals.
Cress threw an eighth-place series of 623 series, while Schrader followed in 10th at 609.
"It was all right," Cress said. "I had wished for better, but I can take it."
Cress had a balanced performance with scores of 211, 190 and 222. The key to consistency was pretty simple for the Lions' top bowler.
"Just hitting my spares was the most important thing," Cress said.
Hunter Krom joined Cress in the top 20 after throwing a 595 series, which was good for 14th place. Krom also had two games of 200 or better. Adonis Stanwix (26th place, 566 series) posted the high game of the day for LHS with a score of 235 in Game 3.
The Lions were in third place into the Baker games, but were surpassed by SM West and finished in fourth. While spare pickups were pivotal for Cress in his first three games, he said they were the Lions' downfall during Baker.
"We can do better — I know that. It's just the spares that got to us," Cress said. "We missed a lot. Fourth is all right."
Schrader felt the same way as Cress about how the Firebirds fared in the Baker games, but he couldn't have been much happier with how his day started. Free State's top bowler turned in scores of 193, 216 and 200 en route to his 10th-place finish.
"It's definitely gone better than the whole season has," Schrader said. "I'm proud of how well I did. I'm happy with how today went."
Schrader's confidence wasn't at an all-time high prior to the league meet, but once he warmed up to the lanes, he became more and more motivated with his goal of this day in reach.
"I was kind of nervous going in," Schrader said. "I really wanted to get top 10 and that's exactly what I did."
Two of Free State's three best games came from Schrader. John Hamer led the Firebirds in Game 1 with a score of 206 before finishing 50th with a 524 series.
"We're definitely doing a lot better than we did at the beginning (of the season)," Schrader said. "This was our best tournament so far, so hopefully we can just keep it going."
Sunflower League meet
Tuesday at Mission Bowl 'N Olathe
Varsity boys team scores: 1. Shawnee Mission South, 3411; 2. Olathe East, 3389; 3. SM West, 3200; 4. Lawrence High, 3146; 5. SM Northwest, 3111; 6. Olathe Northwest, 3034; 7. Olathe North, 3017; 8. SM North, 3009; 9. Olathe South, 2993; 10. Leavenworth, 2943; 11. Free State, 2887; 12. Gardner Edgerton, 2864; 13. Olathe West, 2830; 14. SM East, 2793.
Lawrence High results: 8. Jayden Cress 211-190-222—623; 14. Hunter Krom 203-227-165—595; 26. Adonis Stanwix 157-174-235—566; 43. Javier Lemmons 170-178-194—542; 51. Isaac Cox 194-144-186—524; 76. Ethan Huslig 159-144-162—465.
Free State results: 10. Bayn Schrader 193-216-200—609; 50. John Hamer 206-152-166—524; 54. Porter Neidow 139-198-180—517; 55. Joey Taylor 185-169-157—511; 61. Ryan Flakus 186-167-153—506; 82. Noah Mitchell 156-114-157—427.
Varsity girls team scores: 1. Olathe North, 2940; 2. SM Northwest, 2937; 3. Free State, 2884; 4. Olathe East, 2872; 5. Lawrence High, 2864; 6. Olathe Northwest, 2626; 7. Olathe South, 2592; 8. SM West, 2494; 9. SM South, 2451; 10. SM North, 2379; 11. Gardner Edgerton, 2240; 12. Leavenworth, 2236; 13. SM East, 2197; 14. Olathe West, 2119.
Lawrence High results: 6. Holly Evans 207-180-194—581; 7. Ashley Dykes 203-169-191— 563; 8. Diamonique Vann 195-191-172—558; 9. Emilie Rodman 170-157-224—551; 43. Skyler Scrivner 162-135-146—443; 56. Mollie Coffey 134-150-118—402.
Free State results: 4. Nikki Miele 177-246-175—598; 10. Lexie Lockwood 213-176-154—543; 27. Sapphie Knight 202-129-165—496; 28. Gabbie McCurdy 150-176-170—496; 31. Sydney Jordan 166-147-172—485; 32. 32. Raegan Finkekdei 157-145-179—481.