OTTUMWA — Down by 22 pins, down to their last game and on the verge of seeing their conference title hopes fade away, the Ottumwa girls bowling team got it done.
Faced with a season sweep at the hands of CIML Metro rival Des Moines Lincoln, the Bulldogs faced a make-or-break situation with little margin for error.
“In a baker game, you only get two shots per game,” Ottumwa girls head bowling coach Doug Techel said. “You don’t want to be the one that misses. You have to feed off each other. It takes a total team effort.”
In their most pressure-packed situation of the season, the Bulldogs thrived. Ottumwa beat Lincoln by 28 pins in the final game, rallying for a 2,660-2,654 win over the Railsplitters to avenge a early-season loss and keep their conference title hopes alive.
“To me, it was a character builder,” Techel said. “We didn’t bowl our best. We still left a lot of single pins out there, but the biggest thing is we didn’t give up. This was fun. This was almost a state tournament atmosphere.”
Several fans packed into Champion Bowl on Thursday to watch the two best teams in the Metro collide in both boys and girls bowling action. With both boys and girls squads of both teams separated by one loss coming in, the day served as something of a conference-championship meet, leading to plenty of drama and plenty of cheers throughout.
While the Ottumwa girls took their battle with Lincoln down to the final game, the Ottumwa boys were putting together their best series of games together. The Bulldogs long-standing goal of a 3,200 score was not only met, but exceeded as Ottumwa scored a season-best 3,330 to best a Lincoln squad that also broke 3,000.
The 274-pin win brought out plenty of excitement throughout from the Ottumwa boys. Every strike and every spare thrown by a Bulldog bowler brought out an eruption of cheers from his teammates.
“It was really fun to meet our goal,” Isaac Goodman said after leading Ottumwa with a 262 average. “It was so loud. It was like being at state.”
“This was our big meet of the year at home and I was glad to see the guys were up for it,” Bulldog boys head bowling coach Brett Salter added. “I was glad to see them up and yelling, getting into it rather then having that ‘deer-in-the-headlights’ look.”
Salter also said the meet had a “state-tournament feel” to it. Stepping up to put up their best score in that atmosphere made Thursday’s result even more impressive for an Ottumwa boys bowling team that is second in the state in scoring and first in baker games.
“The noise was definitely more than normal. When you get to state, it’s a whole different tournament,” Salter said. “It was good for the guys to experience something like that.”
The Ottumwa girls, meanwhile, came out with the intention of making up for a disappointing day in Des Moines back in December. The normally dominant Bulldogs fell at Bowlerama to the Railsplitters in just their second meet of the season.
Things did not start out well, however, as Ottumwa found themselves behind by 63 pins going into the baker games. The Bulldogs shaved 41 pins off the margin heading into the final rotation, then surged past Lincoln at the end to win with a 937 baker score to the Railsplitters 865.
Ali Salter led the way for the Bulldog girls, finishing with a 195 average. After finishing fourth with an average score of 171 for Ottumwa in the first two games, Cybil Lennie came up big in the baker game with a 200 as the Bulldog girls posted the best four individual baker scores.
“It always feels good to beat the team that beat you the first time,” Techel said. “We’ve always done well in our baker games. We don’t get a lot of close matches, so for these girls to come back and win in that manner was special.”
While Ottumwa and Lincoln faced off in varsity action, the Ottumwa JV boys and girls took on a southern Iowa 1A varsity team. The Bulldog boys JV squad got a 234 average from Braxton Coble to edge Mount Pleasant, 3,087-2,974.
The Ottumwa JV girls lost their first meet in their first test against a varsity squad. The Bulldogs took a 12-pin lead into the baker game and finished with a 2,544 but were edged out by just 48 pins by Mount Pleasant.
Sydney Swallow led the Ottumwa JV girls with a 212 average. The Ottumwa girls (6-1, 6-1) and undefeated boys (7-0, 7-0) will be back in action on the road Monday in CIML Metro action at Des Moines Roosevelt.
Ottumwa vs. Des Moines Lincoln
At Champion Bowl, Ottumwa
Team Scores: 1. Ottumwa 2,660; 2. Des Moines Lincoln 2,654.
Ottumwa Individuals: Ali Salter 195, Sierra Lennie 178, Micheala Maloy 176, Cybil Lennie 171, Payton Wilbanks 144, Lynissa Lasley 135.
Team Scores: 1. Ottumwa 3,330; 2. Des Moines Lincoln 3,056.
Ottumwa Individuals: Isaac Goodman 262, Tyler Ollom 242, Anthony Roberts 219, Austin Palmer 200, Alan Brady 194, Joey Lee 193.
Ottumwa JV vs. Mount Pleasant (varsity)
At Champion Bowl, Ottumwa
Team Scores: 1. Mount Pleasant 2,592; Ottumwa JV 2,544.
Ottumwa JV Individuals: Sydney Swallow 212, Whitney Bone 162, Ashley Schooley 162, Sadie Shaw 159, Nikki Mitchell 154, Maddison Ware 144.
Team Scores: 1. Ottumwa JV 3,087; 2. Mount Pleasant 2,974.
Ottumwa JV Individuals: Braxton Coble 234, Tyler Bartlett 216, Jordan Mitchell 210, Lukas Jordan 200, Ryan Haigst 199, Kolton Fountain 176.