116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
MARION — Brennan Smith had a feeling that the new head-to-head, single-elimination bracket adopted this season might benefit his game. On Wednesday, the senior claimed the Class 2A individual state bowling crown for Marion.
The road to his title began at 3 years old when he started bowling with his older sister, Breanna, and their parents, Bryan and Ann.
By the time Smith was 10, his sister was a member of the high school team.
“I thought the things she did were cool,” Smith said of his sister, who qualified for state three times, including a second-place finish.
As a freshman, Smith averaged in the 180s and finished third at the Wamac Conference meet.
“It was my most fun year because I was the only freshman with all seniors,” Smith said. “They were the nicest people ever to be around.”
As a sophomore, Smith switched his approach.
“I just felt like one-handed I would get so worked up, so I thought I might do better two-handed,” Smith said. “I ended up getting better shots off and halfway through the season, I got use to it.”
Smith entered his junior year with a 205 average, but finished fifth in the district meet with only the top two advancing to Waterloo.
“The thing that killed me was having three splits in one game,” Smith said. “If they were single-pin spares, I probably would have qualified for state.”
With the Class 2A individuals competing Wednesday, Smith went a day early to practice and prepare for the competition.
“I was killing it (during practice),” Smith said. “I just applied everything to the next day.”
After bowling a 700 series (230-256-214) during preliminaries, the No. 3-seeded Smith was paired against the defending state champion, Clinton’s Cooper Kohl, in the quarterfinals.
“It was definitely beneficial because I got to choose who went first,” Smith said. “I couldn't believe I won that game.”
After dethroning Kohl by two pins, 202-200, Smith faced No. 2-seeded Trey VanWyk of Oskaloosa, who had just rolled a perfect game in the first round.
“I thought, 'Oh my gosh, I'm in trouble,'” Smith said, although he advanced to the championship with a 213-206 victory.
There, Smith beat the top seed, Urbandale’s Cody Reseland, for the title.
“I was on fire my final game,” Smith said. “I shot 245 and when I saw his (181), I already knew I had beat him before I was done.”