West Delaware bowlers ready for more success

Jeff Boeckenstedt, Alex Schneiders lead defending state champs

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MANCHESTER — On the surface, his new job as West Delaware’s boys’ bowling coach appears to be an easy one for Bob Morris.

After serving as the program’s assistant since the school started the program in 2007, Morris takes over for John Chapman, who had to give up the position because of travel demands in his full-time job.

Chapman, who still will help with the program when time allows, led the Hawks to the 2017 Class 1A team championship. Five of the six bowlers who competed on that team return, including the top two finishers in the individual race — senior Jeff Boeckenstedt and junior Alex Schneiders.

“No doubt we had great success last year,” Morris said. “The challenge this year will be to keep the boys motivated to keep improving.”

Improvement was a key factor in the Hawks’ success last season. They saved their best bowling for the end of the season at districts, then at state where they finished with a team total of 3,143, 52 pins better than Maquoketa.

“We got hot at the right time,” Morris said. “The boys had confidence in their abilities and it came through at the right time for us.”

The performance of Boeckenstedt and Schneiders at state reflect just that. Neither bowler was among the team leaders in scoring average entering the state meet. Boeckenstedt came through with games of 219 and 262 to finish at 481. Schneiders was just nine pins behind his teammate.

Boeckenstedt said winning the title didn’t hit him immediately.

“Winning the state championship was quite the rush of emotion, not right away but definitely afterward,” he said. “I worked really hard working on my technique, attitude and work ethic for two weeks leading up to the state meet and it really paid off.”

Morris agreed.

“Jeff had some big games in practice and sometimes one game in a meet, but he had never put two games together,” he said. “He trusted his game and it came together at state.

“Alex is a very competitive kid. He was in and out of the varsity last year. He worked hard and it paid off at state.”

Schneiders said he and Boeckenstedt got a break when they got to state.

“A lot depends on the lane conditions,” Schneiders said. “It’s a silent factor that can make a big difference. The lanes at state set up really well for both of us and we took advantage of it.”

Jim Shover, the team’s senior captain, tied for 11th at state, junior Ian Tibbott was 14th and senior Tristin Kelley was 30th.

“We are blessed with many good bowlers,” Morris said. “They’ve all worked hard, competing in league bowling to get ready for the season.”

With all the success the Hawks enjoyed last season, Schneiders knows they will get the best from their opponents this year.

“In the past, we always knew who the powerhouse teams and bowlers were,” he said. “We always looked forward to bowling against them. This year, I think most teams are going to feel that way about bowling against us.”

The Hawks open their season Dec. 8 at Independence.

Boys' teams to watch

Cedar Rapids Jefferson — Veteran Coach Vig Cerveny has a team full of potential this season with the influx of some new bowlers. Four starters, headed by junior Riley Watson, return for the J-Hawks. “We have more experience and some new players with potential,” Cerveny said. “The boys’ team should be improved over last year.”

Cedar Rapids Prairie — Coach Don Wilfong’s team was seventh last year in Class 3A. Four members of that team return, led by junior Dathan Stolba, who finished 15th at state. “We have some good experience coming back,” Wilfong said. “As long as others step up, we will do well.”

West Delaware — The Hawks are the defending Class 1A state champions and return five of the six members of that title team. Bob Morris is in his first year as head coach after eight years as the assistant. Senior Jeff Boeckenstedt and junior Alex Schnieders finished 1-2 in the individual race. “Obviously, having five returning starters from a state title team is a strength,” Morris said. “The challenge will be to keep those five motivated to repeat and to find a consistent sixth man.”

Boys' bowlers to watch

Jeff Boeckenstedt, sr, West Delaware — Won the Class 1A individual state championship in 2017.

Carter Kramer, sr, Western Dubuque — Finished fifth in the Class 2A State meet.

Alex Schnieders, jr, West Delaware — Finished second in the Class 1A state meet.

Jim Shover, sr, West Delaware — Finished 11th at the Class 1A state meet.

Dathan Stolba, jr, C.R. Prairie — Finished 15th at Class 3A state meet.

Ian Tibbott, jr, West Delaware — Finished 14th at the Class 1A state meet

Shawn Wille, jr, Cedar Rapids Prairie — Finished 23rd at the Class 3A state meet.

Girls' teams to watch

Cedar Rapids Prairie — Wilfong also coaches the girls’ team and it nearly brought home a state title last season, finishing second to Johnston by 85 pins in the Class 3A race. Kaitlyn Early and Riley Hansen have graduated, but there is plenty of talent remaining, led by seniors Jade Klinefelter and Mikayla Hite, along with junior Ashley Sundstrom. “We have good depth and experience,” Wilfong said. “They will do well this year.”

Vinton-Shellsburg — The Vikings finished just behind West Delaware last season at state, taking sixth place and all six bowlers from that team return. Coach Amber Pattee has four seniors leading the way, headed up by Erin Wood, who took ninth at state.

West Delaware — The girls’ team is right up there with the Hawk boys in terms of returning talent. Coach Ken Bosenberg’s team finished fifth in Class 1A and also boasts a defending state individual champion in senior Andrea Salow, who scored a 441 to take top honors at the 2017 state meet. Only Miranda Axline is missing from the group that went to state. It could be another banner year of bowling in Manchester.

Girls' bowlers to watch

Taylor Berry, sr, Vinton-Shellsburg — Finished 24th at Class 1A state meet.

Mekena Diercks, sr, Linn-Mar — Finished fourth at Class 3A state meet

Megan Kitzmiller, jr, Cedar Rapids Jefferson — Finished 28th at Class 3A state meet.

Jade Klinefelter, sr, Cedar Rapids Prairie — Finished 18th at Class 3A state meet.

Andrea Sallow, sr, West Delaware — Won Class 1A individual state championship in 2017.

Ashley Sundstrom, jr, Cedar Rapids Prairie — Finished 13th at Class 3A state meet.

Erin Wood, sr, Vinton-Shellsburg — Finished ninth at Class 1A state meet.

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