By Sara Miller
Kitsap News Group
For South Kitsap High School senior Sarah Stolle, bowling was always more than just something you did at your birthday party.
Stolle’s brother bowled and her parents were also in a league. When Stolle was 12, her mom decided to sign her up for a league because “she hated standing out in the rain to watch me play soccer.”
I didn’t like having to stand in the rain either,” Stolle said. “So she signed me up and taught me a few things, and I’ve been bowling ever since.”
Stolle has been captain of the Wolves bowling team for the last two years. And after capturing the South Puget Sound League title, she clinched her third consecutive trip to the state tournament.
“I’m excited for my final state appearance,” she said. “I’ve gone every year but never placed.”
Last year, Stolle finished 12th out of 69 bowlers. The year before, she finished ninth, one place shy of earning a medal.
“I’m looking forward to trying my best and placing,” she said. “I think it would be a nice finish.”
She said her favorite moment this year was when the Wolves won the league title on Jan. 18.
“All year, we heard how the SPSL is super-challenging competition,” she said. “But then we went 10-2 and won it. It made us realize we’re better than we think we are, and that’s kind of calming.”
After finishing first in SPSL, the team competed in the West Central District competition on Jan. 28. The Wolves finished second by 20 pins to Thomas Jefferson of Federal Way, with Stolle individually placing first.
She said she knew she was high in the standings, but didn’t know she had won until they made the announcement for second place.
“When they announced second place, and it wasn’t me, I was just like, ‘Oh man, I’m first,’” she said. “It’s awesome.”
Stolle bowled a 586 total in her three games, 20 pins higher than the second-place qualifier. And her favorite part is being with her team and watching everyone bowl.
“I watch everybody bowl,” she said. “Even the other teams. I clap and cheer. I get odd looks, but it’s fascinating to me.”
She made it clear she also watches her own team. And this year they started a new pre-game routine of getting in a huddle to talk and pray that they “kick butt.”
“It’s a recent development,” Stolle said. “It’s pretty silly, but it’s got us this far.”
Stolle said her favorite thing about bowling is watching the ball travel down the lane. She likes it because you can throw a perfect ball but have it turn into a split. Or a ball can look like it’s heading directly for the gutter, but then curl for a strike.
“The lane does crazy things,” she said. “It’s just a surprise, I guess.”
After she graduates in May, Stolle plans to go to college to study psychology. Although she has several options on where to attend, she hasn’t made a final decision yet. But she knows wherever she goes, she wants to continue bowling and hopefully play in the marching band (she plays clarinet, among other things).
“Bowling’s not just a hobby or late-night hang out,” she said. “You can do it competitively and, if you practice a lot, become great.”
Stolle will compete in the WIAA state bowling tournament Feb. 3-4 at Narrows Plaza Bowl in University Place.