The Manhattan High boys’ bowling team kicked off the start of its season by traveling to Wichita to compete in Bishop Carroll’s annual invitational to start the year using the Baker format for scoring.
The boys finished in sixth place out of the 26 teams represented, just narrowly missing the medal stand.
“The top five teams earned medals, and we missed that fifth spot by four pins, but we did very well, especially for the first tournament of the year,” Manhattan assistant coach Robert Regan said. “We’ve got a good group of kids this year.”
The girls’ team did not make the trip because of illness.
“The girls did not go, we just had too many of them sick,” he said. “It was tough.”
Of the 12 games Manhattan bowled in the Baker style, they won 10 of the matchups, which netted them 30 extra pins per matchup.
They start the season with the typical format on Tuesday with a trip to Topeka.
“Tuesday we go to a tournament hosted by Hayden at West Ridge,” he said. “We’ll go up there and have individual competition, as well as team.”
Regan said the team started out well for its first meet of the year.
“We bowled very well, to take sixth,” he said. “I was proud of our underclassmen, they really shined today, and our upperclassmen did too.”
The boys’ team is looking to build off of last year’s surprise run to the state tournament in Wichita after winning its Class 6A regional tournament in Manhattan.
They have a strong nucleus of returners, with Smit Thirakul, Alex Huerta and Shon Eakes all back. Joining them is Dustin Wichman, a freshman, that Manhattan head coach Chris George said has potential. Others, such as Frank Felber, Tanner Holen and Sean Dewitt figure to be in the varsity mix as well.
“The names on the varsity roster are likely to fluctuate some from week to week until there are six bowlers who establish some consistency in all aspects of the game,” George said. “And in representing Manhattan High School.”
For the girls, returning captain Meghan Dooley will lead a squad that also returns Krystyn Winiecki, Andrea Miller and Kat Eimer. Also returning is Danielle Miller, who bowled as a freshman but didn’t compete last year. George said the girls’ team is still searching for its sixth varsity bowler.
“Numbers are down on the girl’s side and we are still looking for a 6th bowler who can compete at a varsity level,” he said. “We might have to go with five if we want to field a JV squad at tournaments.”
George said each team has the goal of making it to state this year.
“Our goals this year on both sides are to win the league and advance to the state tournament,” he said. “It might be considered a lofty goal, but that will always be our goal.”
As far as areas of improvement George would like to see, there are multiple things, with the biggest being consistency.
“Last year we had a senior come out of nowhere to set a new school record and lead our team to state by winning regionals,” George said. “This year the same thing might have to happen with our lack of proven depth. Our main concern is to make sure that everyone is doing all of the little things right, both on and off the court, so to speak.
“We will get better as the season rolls along. Hopefully a couple of kids will rise to the occasion and strengthen the team.”