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Manhattan’s Jasmine Bridges warms up before Friday’s regional in Junction City. Bridges is the top returned for the MHS girls.

David Murph, Manhattan High’s new head bowling coach is leading a high school program for the first time.

But he comes into the 2022 season with a glut of coaching and bowling experience, and says he is ready to lead the young Indian bowlers toward success this season.

“I was super excited to get the head coaching position,” Murph said. “I really like and enjoy bowling, and I like passing that on just like I’ve done with my two kids. They will have something they can carry on and enjoy for the rest of their lives: a sport that they can do by themselves or as a team.”

Murph started bowling at 8 years old while growing up in Ohio. He carried that love for the game through into high school before enlisting in the military.

He continued bowling as a hobby and went on to get his two sons, Alex and Nicholas, involved in the sport. Alex graduated from MHS in 2013 while Nicholas now is a junior for the Indians.

Murph started to coach in youth bowling leagues in 2005. He also has coached youth baseball, football and soccer.

Manhattan has just three seniors on its roster headed into the year, and all are on the girls’ team. The vast majority of the Indians’ lineup consists of freshmen and sophomores.

Murph hopes that with both middle schools in Manhattan now offering bowling — Anthony Middle School is offering the sport for the first time this year after Eisenhower has offered it the past several years — Manhattan High can start to build a strong base of enthusiasm in bowling for kids coming into high school.

“The more kids get interested, the more athletes we’ll have to work with and choose from,” Murph said.

Senior Jasmine Bridges leads the girls’ team. She was a key part of last season’s squad, which placed second in regionals. Bridges only has gotten better since then,

She finished seventh individually at regionals as a junior, and 28th at state.

“She’s one of the top female bowlers in the state,” Murph said. “We had a tournament (on Tuesday) and she had a 764. The highest score that day was a boy from Seaman who shot 784, so she was the second highest in the house. She really, really did well.”

Joining Bridges will be Mia Dawson and Leah Reid, both of whom were part of last season’s team that took sixth at the state meet.

The boys return just one varsity bowler from last year in Nicholas Murph, who will be joined by freshmen and sophomores making their first varsity appearances this season.

“My goal this year is to really build their skills as student athletes to make them better in the sport so they can become those sophomores, juniors and seniors who are the top bowlers in the state,” Murph said.

The Indians opened their season Tuesday in Topeka and will travel back Wednesday for a quad with Emporia, Shawnee Heights and host Topeka West.