WICHITA — Like any sport, bowling doesn’t provide the opportunity for many moral victories.
Win, and you celebrate, as the Manhattan boys’ bowling team did last week at regionals. Lose, and the season ends without much fanfare.
The latter was true for the Indians on Friday afternoon, in the team’s first appearance in school history. Manhattan finished in eighth place of 10 teams, with a score of 2,427. The biggest bright spots of the day were Shon Eakes’ 14th place medal-worthy finish with a 645 series, and finishing ahead of Washburn Rural in the team standings.
“It’s the first time we’ve ever brought a team to state and that was a goal we set at the beginning of the year, so that was good,” Manhattan head coach Chris George said. “We’d have liked to have bowled a little better today, but we just didn’t quite have enough scoring at the bottom end.”
Olathe North took the team championship with a 2,674, with Haysville-Campus taking second with a 2,631 and Garden City in third with a 2,588.
Individually, the top series came from Derick Holmes of Wichita Southeast with a 739.
Manhattan’s AJ Cabanatuan, who set the school record for a series last week at regionals, tied with Alex Murph as the next-highest Indian finisher with a 575, in 43rd and 44th place, respectively. Cabanatuan won the tiebreaker because he had the high game between the two seniors.
Tucker Reffitt, another senior, took 54th place with a 552, while Smitt Thirakul finished in 56th place with a 546. Alex Huerta rounded out the scoring with a 534, good for 61st place.
“Shon led the way, and Alex (Murph) was up there for a while,” George said. “AJ was at 19th through two games, but we just didn’t hang in there long enough to move up the ladder.”
George said the team took the lower-than-desired finish as motivation to improve this offseason.
“It really wasn’t that big of separation from the middle teams,” he said. “We were hoping to at least get a trophy, but I guess that’s what we’ll have to shoot for next year.
“I heard a couple of them talking about getting back here next year, so at least we have our foot a crack in the door.”
Also bowling on Friday were Manhattan’s two individual qualifiers on the girls’ side, Kat Eimer and Meghan Dooley.
Eimer finished in 28th place with a 536 series, while Dooley took 65th with a 414.
Combined, the two teams lose just four varsity bowlers to graduation this year, meaning George will have a strong group of experienced bowlers to work with next season.
“Other than that, we’ve got some young kids coming up and I think we have a good nucleus for next year,” he said. “And I think they saw, it wasn’t a lot of fancy stuff, just down and in and consistency. The people that won weren’t real flashy, they just did the same thing over and over. They didn’t have ups and downs — we just weren’t as consistent as we were at regionals.”