Several city bowlers excited for first trip to 6A state bowling meet

Lawrence High senior Ashley Dykes rolls a bowling ball down the lane during the City Showdown Thursday at Royal Crest Lanes on Feb. 14, 2019.

After a strong freshman season, Jayden Cress eventually missed qualifying for the state meet by just two pins.

For Cress, who has been bowling all his life, it was a moment that stuck with him for the next year. Cress worked on his consistency in the offseason, and came back better than ever in his sophomore season.

It eventually paid off, as Cress clinched a spot in the 6A state bowling meet with a series score of 548.

“Over the year, I just got way better with my spares and strikes,” Cress said. “It was really exciting to get to state, and getting better throughout the year helped me power through the mistakes I made at regionals.”

Cress will not be the only city bowler making his first trip to the 6A state bowling meet, which is slated to take place Friday at Northrock Lanes in Wichita. The varsity girls competition is slated to begin at 8:50 a.m., while the boys event will start at 1:40 p.m.

All six city individuals that qualified for the state bowling meet did so for the very first time in their respective career.

For Lawrence, Cress and Rhett May will represent the boys program. On the girls side, both Ashley Dykes and Emilie Rodman will be competing in the state meet for the first time. Dykes, a senior, was actually an alternate two years ago.

“I really liked the bowling alley, I’m excited to bowl there,” Dykes said. “I was looking at everyone’s scores throughout the season to see if I had a chance, and it looked like I did. It was my goal to make it to state.”

For Free State, seniors Sydney Jordan and Lexie Lockwood are eager to make their first and only trip to the state meet in their bowling career.

Like Cress, Jordan has been bowling for as long as she can remember. She actually began competing in a bowling league at 7-years-old, even though it was a year earlier than she was allowed. Jordan got away with it, however, since her dad ran the bowling alley in Clay Center.

As a result, qualifying for the biggest meet of the season was always Jordan’s goal when she joined the Free State bowling program. For her, it was especially fitting to do so in her final season.

“I’m very excited, because my sister (Gentry Jordan) also qualified her senior year. There is a rivalry thing going on there,” Jordan said. “She is really excited for me. She called me a copycat first, but said she was proud of me.”

The Free State boys bowling team managed to qualify as a squad following a second-place finish at the regional meet. It is the team’s first such trip since the 2017 season.

Entering the season, senior Bayn Schrader, a three-time state qualifier, wasn’t sure the Firebirds were going to have enough firepower to qualify as a team. As the year went on, though, FSHS started performing better as a unit behind Schrader’s leadership.

A.J. Baker, Joey Taylor and Schrader all notched top-eight finishes to help Free State get the job done at regionals.

“After regionals, guys kept thanking me. That really meant a lot,” Schrader said. “It was great that all of them looked up to me, but I couldn’t have done without them. I mean A.J. did better than me, it was all of us doing our best at regionals.”

Schrader hopes to best his 12th-place finish that he produced last year, but he really wants to make the most of his final trip with his team.

“It is going to be really special,” Schrader said. “Four of my teammates are not seniors, so hopefully they will be able to make it back.”


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