WICHITA — After only four years of existence at Great Bend High School, the boys and girls bowling teams have already been to the Class 5-1A state meet twice with the most recent being a trip for both this year.
The took sixth place at the bowling meet on Thursday a the Northrock Lanes in Wichita. The Lady Panthers took seventh place.
Great Bend’s top finisher was sophomore Dakota Conaway, who knocked down 680 pins in three games to take fourth place. It was the highest placement of a Great Bend bowler at a state meet. Kayci Huslig held that honor until Thursday with a fifth-pace finish at the state meet two years ago.
“Dakota was just in a groove,” GBHS head coach Mike Perry said. “We could tell watching him in warm ups that he was in a groove. He just found his shot. I finally got to sit down and visit with him on the bus and he said that he wasn’t nervous this time. Last year, he was a freshman. He said he was nervous last year, but this year he was getting pumped up by the crowd noises behind him.”
Conaway’s 256 game was the top game bowled for the Panthers.
“The boys really bowled well,” Perry said. “It was just that we could only get three hot at a time, not four. We were matched up with the team that eventually won first (Kansas City Washington). That kept pushing us. We had a ton of energy, come out good, we just got out bowled.”
For the Lady Panthers, Kelli Kirmer finished in 13th place individually with a 583 series. She rolled a 235 in her final game at the meet.
“You know, she told me after the meet that it was the highest series and game that she had ever bowled in her life,” Perry said of the sophomore. “Unfortunately for us, we only had one or two girls heat up. Hejny really bowled well, too.
“She said to me after the medals were awarded, ‘Coach, I’ve only been bowling for two years. This is awesome.’ I was really happy for her.”
Miranda Hejny also finished in the top 20 individuals for Great Bend. Hejny rolled a 571 series to finish in 18th place.
“I thought the girls seemed really tight,” Perry said. “They got down right off the bat and it was just hard to play catch up after that. It is not the end of the season that we wanted.”
Both the boys and girls graduate a pair of seniors this year. It is the first class to spend four years on the bowling team.
It was the final meet for Tyler Jones and Tyler Seems on the Panthers’ side. Jones bowled a 615 series, and Seems rolled a 459.
“There were a lot of tears today,” Perry said. “After everything kind of calmed down, we talked about how far we’ve come in four years. We had all of these goals set for us and it seemed like this year, we reached a lot of them. All of the records we’ve broken this year, winning a (Western Athletic Conference) title with the girls and second place for the boys. That’s the highest the boys have finished in the WAC. We won a regional championship. We’ve never done that before.
“After everything that we’ve done this year, this was not the ending that we would have liked to write for ourselves.”
The Lady Panthers say goodbye to Koa Pelster and Dariane Marshall. Pelster’s top game was 175 on her way to a 512 series.
Marshall rolled a 471 series. She opened the meet with her top game of 181.
“I thanked everyone for just letting me come along for the ride,” Perry said. “You know, four years ago nobody knew who we were. Now, we come to state and everybody knows who we are. We’ve really come a long way.”
Class 5-1A state
At Northrock Lanes, Wichita
1. Topeka Seaman, 2,423; 2. Buhler, 2,415; 3. Bishop Carroll, 2,370; 4. Andover Central, 2,306; 5. Lansing, 2,267; 6. Shawnee Heights, 2,216; 7. Great Bend, 2,181; 8. KC Turner, 1,978.
Great Bend results
Kelli Kirmer: 192, 156, 235 — 583; Miranda Hejny: 170, 225, 176 — 571; Koa Pelster: 175, 167, 170 — 512; Jacy Quade: 188, 143, 162 — 493; Dariane Marshall: 181, 154, 136 — 471; Erin Bowers: 159, 151, 157 — 467.
1. KC Washington, 2,729; 2. Bishop Carroll, 2,679; 3. Topeka Seaman, 2,624; 4. KC Turner, 2,623; 5. McPherson, 2,603; 6. Great Bend, 2,566; 7. Gardner-Edgerton, 2,552; 8. Trinity Academy, 2,471.
Great Bend results
Dakota Conaway: 256, 234, 190 — 680; Eric Ruiz: 213, 193, 218 — 624; Tyler Jones: 176, 241, 198 — 615; Daniel Herrman: 217, 171, 222 — 610; Kolt Ramey: 172, 97, 220 — 489; Tyler Seems: 183, 129, 147 — 459.