Prep Sports

Cedar Rapids Washington boys earn surprise state bowling berth

Prairie, Xavier boys and Jefferson, Kennedy, Prairie, Xavier girls also advance

Punching tickets to state is all the rage this time of year, especially if you can do it when no one is expecting it.

That’s what the Cedar Rapids Washington boys’ bowling team did at a Class 2A state-qualifying meet Tuesday at May City when it advanced after knocking down 3,151 pins, second only to Cedar Rapids Xavier’s total of 3,226.

The Warriors came into the meet with the 27th best average team score (2,399.3) for the season out of 30 teams in Class 2A, while going winless in duals.

“It’s amazing to see how they performed today,” Washington head coach Monica Benish said. “They just blew it out of the water.”

Leading the way for the Warriors were juniors Connor Rissi and Casey Christiansen, who finished 1-2 while tossing the second and third highest totals in the state of all the Class 2A qualifiers.

“Some of it had to do with us being paired with Xavier,” Benish said. “It pushed the boys to focus as a team and that’s exactly what they did.”

As for Rissi, this checks off an item on his bucket list.

“It’s been a long time since Washington has had someone at state as an individual and I was really hoping that I would qualify sometime in my high school career,” Rissi said.

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Benish said it’s been more than five years since the Warriors have sent an individual to state, let alone the whole team.

“We are all extremely proud that they showed everyone what Washington can do,” Benish said.

Along with Xavier and Washington, Western Dubuque qualified on the boys’ side after tossing a 3,161 total, good for fifth in 2A.

Saints senior and defending state champion Dale Weaver grabbed the final at-large berth after throwing a 459 two-game series.

West Delaware joins Xavier as Class 2A girls’ qualifiers after scoring 2,586, which seeds it seventh headed into Waterloo next week. The Saints had the eighth best total with 2,513 pins tallied, led by senior Olivia Nolte who was the district champion with a 452 series, second best in 2A on the day behind Alexis Kenney of Fort Dodge.

“There’s a little bit of relief and also some excitement,” Nolte said. “This is our third year in a row going back as a team, but my first as an individual qualifier.”

Nolte plans on working on her spare game, a place where she feels there have been opportunities to add some pins to her total.

“I missed a lot of easy ones,” Nolte said.

In Class 3A, Cedar Rapids Prairie qualified both teams at Lancer Lanes and also crowned two district champions in seniors Johnathon Keiper and Amanda Moyer.

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“I came into practice Monday and coach sent me home after one game because I was bowling well,” said Keiper after following his game one 247 with five strikes to start game two, capturing the title with a 513 series.

“I woke up this morning feeling good and only had to go to school for half the day which was nice. When I got out, the sun was shining and I came here and the ball was rolling really well for me.”

Along with bowling well enough to earn the district title, Moyer placed herself in charge of team morale.

“I stayed relaxed and made sure everyone was in a good mood, because it really is a mental game,” she said.

“If I do well great, but if not I’ll try harder next time.”

Also qualifying in Class 3A for the boys is sophomore Nile Franz of Iowa City High. He and Prairie senior Jace Merta tossed almost identical 460 series.

Cedar Rapids Kennedy punched its Class 3A girls’ team ticket with a 2,682 total, good for fifth in 3A. The Cougars were led by Michaela Beckman, who won the district with a 450 series. Cedar Rapids Jefferson earned a spot in Waterloo by winning the district title at Lancer Lanes with a 2,801 total, good for third in 3A.

In Class 1A, the Monticello boys qualified for state with Easton Lee earning a district title for the Panthers. Monticello (3,069) rolled the fifth best total in the state.

Independence qualified as a district champion while throwing the fifth best score in the state (2,487).

Vinton-Shellsburg junior Christina Harrelson was a district champion with a 421 series.

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The state tournament will be held at Cadillac Lanes in Waterloo Feb. 24-26 with 1A bowling Monday, 2A on Tuesday and 3A on Wednesday.

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