Prep Sports

Vinton-Shellsburg's Christina Harrelson aims for state bowling return

Vinton-Shellsburg senior Christina Harrelson finished second at state individually as a junior and is focused on returni
Vinton-Shellsburg senior Christina Harrelson finished second at state individually as a junior and is focused on returning to Cadillac Lanes in Waterloo with her entire team for the 2021 tournament. (Submitted photo)

Athletes come in many forms.

Vinton-Shellsburg senior bowler Christina Harrelson has learned that over the years as she has grown from the lone freshman on varsity in 2017 to state runner-up as a junior in 2020.

“You have to be yourself,” Harrelson said. “Don’t try to fit into a category because there is no point in changing who you are, or your personality, to fit a specific role.”

The Viking leader returns for her final season at the high school level focused, avoiding the pressure many are faced with when choosing a college, after recently signing with Coe to continue her education. She’ll also get to help build the Kohawks’ bowling program, which is in its first year of existence this winter.

“I did a lot of sports growing up and I get along with people,” Harrelson said. “But actually making a connection has been kind of harder for me.”

Along with her growth in the sport, bowling has helped Harrelson work toward her real-life goal to follow in her mother Mary’s footsteps and become a nurse practitioner. It’s a career choice that demands building connections.

“I would say I got into (nursing) around middle school,” Harrelson said. “It dawned on me that I like helping people. My mom would talk about it all the time and I’ve always just grown up around it.”

Harrelson started bowling after also growing up around it, with her friends and older brother, Nathan, competing in leagues as kids.

She rejoined the sport as a freshman with her best friend Chloe Tharp after taking five years off.


“I like being able to have something in common with the other bowlers,” Harrelson said. “We get to do something that we all love together.”

While Harrelson tries to keep her teammates motivated and mentally strong through the ups and downs of bowling 10 frames competitively, she dials in when it’s her time to shine.

“I grab my rag to wipe down the ball,” Harrelson said. “I grab the ball with the rag and I wipe it off before throwing the rag on the machine. I rub my foot on the lanes to get my sliding figured out and to also make sure I don’t still have my shoe cover on because I have done that. Then I step up there and just get ready to bowl.”

Although Harrelson does put a bit of curve on the ball, as in life, she prefers to take a more straightforward approach.

“I’d say that I can be calm about (life and bowling) both, but it took a lot to get where I’m at now,” Harrelson said. “I’m usually very quiet.”

With sports up and running for now, Harrelson and her teammates are doing what they can to prepare for the uncertainty of the season.

“I told the kids to just do what they can to stay safe,” said Amber Pattee, the Vikings head coach for all eight years of the program’s existence. “We’re just going to play it by ear and I told them that if all of a sudden they change it and we can’t bowl, than they need to take care of themselves and when we come back it’ll be as a better team.”

One goal Harrelson is working on is returning to the state tournament as an individual and with the team, something the program most recently accomplished on the boys’ and girls’ sides in 2019.


“That was really fun and I want that for a lot of our seniors,” Harrelson said. “I don’t really care if I place or not, it’s more about getting there and knowing I can do it.”


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