TACOMA — The South Kitsap High bowling team will once again be represented at the state tournament in 2018.
Juniors Ginger Cermak and Abigail Kay both qualified as individuals at the district tournament on Jan. 27, finishing 12th and 22nd overall. The team finished sixth with a total of 2,926 pins, falling short of a qualifying place by just 99 pins.
The pair hopes to follow in the footsteps of Sarah Stolle, last year’s 4A champion. Head coach Lee LaDeaux said Cermak and Kay, along with juniors Shylene Tudela and Erin Alonzo, who qualified for the state tournament as an alternate, have been the best bowlers since her departure.
Cermak finished 12th at the state tournament last year and has increased her league game average 30 pins from 122 last season to 152 this year. Kay has battled through injuries, including a broken wrist at the beginning of the season, but has also increased her average to 152.
LaDeaux pointed out that Stolle was able to turn up her game to another level at the state tournament last season, averaging 209 during the tournament, compared to her league average of 188. He believes Cermak and Kay both have the capability to do the same and finish high at this year’s tournament.
“[It was] something I knew she was more than capable of doing,” LaDeaux said.
“It’s not just about the skillful side of bowling. It also has a lot to do with your mental game. That is something Sarah did a great job on last season, and in my opinion, the biggest reason why she won state.”
“If these two ladies can stay focused at state, with their ability anything is possible,” he said.
Alonzo finished 25th at the district tournament with 451 pins over three games. She, too, has increased her average by more than 30 pins this year. LaDeaux is hoping Alonzo gets a chance at state where “she could cause some serious damage.”
Junior Shylene Tudela was fourth among South Kitsap bowlers, just missing out on the state tournament with a three-game total of 408.
“Shy has done a fantastic job in not only increasing her average but also developing her style,” LaDeaux said. “She worked hard during and after the season. If Shylene continues with this work ethic, I can definitely see her qualifying for state next year as an individual if we do not as a team.”
As a team, the Wolves got off to a slow start this season and finished fifth in the league standings, but they surprised the South Puget Sound League with a second-place finish at the league tournament, allowing them to qualify for districts.
South Kitsap was in the running throughout the district tournament, never too far away from the fourth and final qualifying spot. The team bowled well all day, but never got the big game they needed to leap over Puyallup or a surging Jackson team.
Going forward, the program is in good shape with 30 bowlers on the team this season. The competition was fierce for the final varsity spot among several athletes, including Tawnee Yates, Anabelle McElhaney, Jazmin Lamoureux, Maxine Wilson, Abigail Rogers, and Karley Wilson. And with newcomers such as Francesca Corso, Gillian Ciarelli, McKenlie Nachbar, Phoenix Morton and Rebecca Depoe in the mix next year, every bowler will have to be at their best to have their name in the varsity lineup.
“Depending on how hard these ladies work during the offseason, both in and out of the bowling alley, [there] will be the tale tell signs,” LaDeaux said. “At the end of the day, when you are bowling, the numbers do not lie for your average.”
With so many bowlers in the program, LaDeaux said it can be difficult to ensure his players are receiving the right amount of attention.
Tylor Hale served as an assistant coach last season but was unable to do so this year due to work and school commitments. Fortunately, Ben Hale came aboard a month into the season, and it made a big difference, LaDeaux said.
“You are always worried if you are spending the right amount of time with a particular athlete,” LaDeaux said.
“It is hard to find that balance sometimes. Since bowling is a non-cut sport at the high school, it attracts all level of abilities from complete novices to serious athletes who bowl in competitive leagues outside of school and who want to challenge themselves and get to state. I just want them to enjoy the experience and that is up to them as much as it is [to me].”
4A West Central District III Tournament
Team results: Thomas Jefferson, 3,293; Rogers, 3,052; Cascade, 3,040; Puyallup, 3,025; Jackson, 2,996; South Kitsap, 2,926; Decatur, 2,709; Kennedy Catholic, 2,309.
Top South Kitsap bowlers: Ginger Cermak, 515 (12th); Abigail Kay, 474 (22nd); Erin Alonzo, 451 (25th); Shylene Tudela, 408 (34th); and Tawnee Yates, 306 (two games; 49th).
Mark Krulish is a reporter for Kitsap News Group.