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Panthers roll into Class 5A regional on Saturday morning


POSTED February 23, 2012 11:13 p.m.

Great Bend’s Walnut Bowl will be hosting one of the state’s four Class 5-1A regional high school bowling tournaments on Saturday.
The competition begins at 10 a.m. with the boys rolling first, followed by the girls.
GBHS head coach Mike Perry said that his teams are a little tense heading into the regional tournament.
“As far as bowling conditions, you know your own lanes the best, but the kids have been kind of wound up this week,” Perry said. “I talked with them, and they told me they were feeling a little extra pressure.
“I don’t know if it’s that they’re playing in front of home town or if it’s that they’re both returning regional champions. I just hope they settle down in practice before this weekend.”
Both the boys and the girls won last year’s 5-1A regional at Salina-Sacred Heart.
“I think the pressure is coming from being the defending regional champs,” Perry said. “When you go in as an underdog, you have high expectations for yourself, but you don’t have to worry about other people’s expectations. When you’re the top dog, you walk in with that No. 1 on your chest, and people expect you to be No. 1.”
There will be 12 teams — Andale, Buhler, Cheney, Garden Plain, Great Bend, Holcomb, Liberal, Little River (boys), Maize South (girls), McPherson, Newton, Salina-Sacred Heart — in all competing to qualify for the state tournament at Northrock Lanes in Wichita on March 1-2.
The Panthers will be represented by Western Athletic Conference MVP Dakota Conaway, Eric Ruiz, Mark Lang, Danny Herrman, Jeff Meitler and Kolt Ramey.
Ramey was the top individual finisher in last year’s regional, taking fourth place. He averages 182 pins per game.
Conaway has the top average with 217 pins per game.
“By now, the boys know what they’re capable of doing,” Perry said. “Dakota’s probably our No. 1 bowler, but the interesting thing is, looking back, sometimes he’s been No. 1. Then it’s Eric. Then it’s Kolt. Jeff Meitler is a freshman, and he’s never been No. 1. But he’s always there helping out.
“We have the WAC MVP with Dakota. Eric was the MVP last year. Danny Herrman was the regional champ two year’s ago as a freshman the last time the tournament was here, so we have a lot of experience.”
Alternates will be Matt Black and Alex Morgan.
The six girls competing for the Lady Panthers are Miranda Hejny, Maddie Roach, Jacy Quade, Kelli Kirmer, Erin Bowers and Addie Soukup.
Hejny has the top average with 197 pins per game. She was also the top finisher at the regional competition last year with fourth place.
While the first five have been varsity starters for most of the season, Perry said that choosing the No. 6 girl was difficult.
“We’ve fluxuated the sixth girl all season long,” Perry said. “There are 18 pins separating our 6-7-8 girls on our team. That’s for the whole season. Addie has gotten hot these last few meets for us, and she is the No. 6 girl by the averages, so we’re sticking with her. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, I guess.”
Sterling McAlister and Alex Eye are the alternates.


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