DES MOINES — Doug Techel knows what it takes to win on the bowling lanes.
After leading a dozen Ottumwa girls bowling teams to state tournament play, Techel had an idea what to expect from the field at this year’s Class 2A state bowling tournament. Techel gave his team a score to meet to win the program’s sixth overall state title.
“I think 2,950 will do it,” Techel said. “We need a 2,950 to win the title.”
Techel was right. A 2,950 would have been enough to top second-place Cedar Rapids Jefferson by almost 200 pins.
But a 2,950 by any of the other 11 teams in the field wouldn’t have been nearly enough to catch the Bulldog girls on Friday.
Ottumwa saved the best for last, stepping up with their best score on the final day of the season.
As such, the Bulldogs led from start to finish on Friday. The third IGHSAU state bowling title for Ottumwa came in dominant fashion with a 3,101 score, winning by 316 pins over the J-Hawks and the rest of the field at Plaza Lanes in Des Moines.
While the Bulldog girls won their sixth overall state title, the Ottumwa boys shook off a slow start and closed their side of the state tournament by making their own run at a first-ever championship.
The Bulldogs’ settled for third, tying the best finish for the program. Ottumwa’s 3,256 finish was just 53 pins behind state champ Dubuque Hempstead and six pins shy of CIML Metro rival Des Moines Lincoln.
“The lanes transitioned on us in the first game bad. We thought we’d get that transition during the second game and instead it happened right in the middle of the first,” Bulldog boys head coach Brett Salter said. “I’m more proud of where we ended up finishing. We didn’t even get 1,000 in the first game, but the fight in these boys is unbelievable.”
Ottumwa recovered from a tough opening game to roll a 2,082 total, just 125 pins behind Davenport North but back in the field in eighth place. The Bulldogs then flexed their muscle again in the baker games, putting up the top two scores immediately on the way to a meet-best 1,174 score to move up five spots in the five games.
“All season long, we’ve led the state in baker-game average,” Salter said. “We knew if we could finish strong, we had a chance to really move up.”
There was plenty of shuffling throughout a day in which the top six boys teams finished within 93 pins of each other and nine girls teams were only separated by 251.
There were few teams that managed to maintain leads over other foes. In fact, only one stayed in front from the first ball of the day — the state champion Ottumwa girls.
In the face of the intense atmosphere of the state bowling meet, the Bulldogs were coolly focused on their task. Ottumwa opened the day with an 1,132 score, building a modest 19-pin lead over Waukee.
The Bulldogs were just getting started. Ottumwa narrowly missed out on a 1,200 second game and a 200-pin lead on the field, settling for a 1,190 that allowed opened the Bulldog to open a 192-pin advantage over Waukee.
“Once we made a few shots and got the crowd going, that got us pumped up,” Michaela Maloy said after leading Ottumwa with a 452 score in the first two games. “We had a pretty good feeling going into the baker games that we had met our goal. We just went back to work in the baker games.”
The Bulldogs weren’t about to let up in the baker games. After keeping a solid cushion through the first two games, Ottumwa put up an eye-popping 278 in the third baker game to essentially seal the state title in amazing fashion.
“We don’t want the girls to ever bowl like they’ve got a meet wrapped up. We don’t want them to let their guard down,” Techel said. “You want to keep putting everything you can into it. The girls didn’t want to miss. They didn’t miss a lot.”
While the rest of the Ottumwa girls celebrated the news of the team title, Maloy joined Ali Salter and Sierra Lennie in defending an individual title won by Katie Maher for the Bulldogs last season. Maloy came the closest, adding the best third round score of any individual top 10 qualifier with a 221 to move from fourth up to second with a 676.
Des Moines Lincoln’s Brittany Smith, who entered the final round with a 63-pin lead, held on with a 706 total to beat Maloy for the crown.
“Brittany certainly deserved that, but it was great to bowl for that title,” Maloy said. “It was great to have Ali and Sierra in there with me. I couldn’t have made it that far without their help.”
Senior Ali Salter finished in strong style, making the biggest final round move in the individual race. With a final 202, Salter moved from eighth up to a fourth-place finish with a 644 total to cap a special day for her team and family.
“It’s amazing to win a state title. I think it shows Ottumwa kicks some butt in bowling,” Ali Salter, the daughter of Ottumwa boys coach Brett, said. “I’m proud of my dad and the job he does with the guys. I’m glad they got third place for him.”
All told, the Ottumwa bowling program left with plenty of hardware besides a state championship trophy. Three top-10 individuals and the only school in the state to have two top-three teams leaves little doubt that the state’s best bowling program resides in the City of Bridges.
“We’re hard workers, we don’t give up and we put the work into it every day,” Techel said. “It’s something that we can be proud about, the school can be proud of and the city can be proud of.
“Ottumwa’s got a great bowling tradition. This was a great day for all of us.”
2012 STATE BOWLING RESULTS
Team Scores: 1. Ottumwa 3,101; 2. Cedar Rapids Jefferson 2,784; 3. Muscatine 2,756; 4. Waterloo West 2,745; 5. Waukee 2,734; 6. Cedar Rapids Kennedy 2,641; 7. Davenport Central 2,639; 8. Mason City 2,637; 9. Davenport West 2,557; 10. Southeast Polk 2,533.
Individual Scores: 1. Brittany Smith (Des Moines Lincoln) 706, 2. Michaela Maloy (Ottumwa) 673, 3. Shelby Klumpers (Waukee) 646, 4. Ali Salter (O) 644, 5. Kendra Ballensky (Muscatine) 613, 6. Amanda Wiedemeier (Cedar Rapids Kennedy) 608, 7. Courtney Moore (Cedar Rapids Jefferson) 607, 8. Alexus Wilson-Brunson (Waterloo West) 606, 9. Sierra Lennis (O) 592, 10. Kate Palmer (Cedar Rapids Prairie) 553.
Ottumwa Individuals: Maloy 452, Salter 442, S. Lennie 429, Payton Wilbanks 379, Cybil Lennie 350, Sydney Swallow 269.
Team Scores: 1. Dubuque Hempstead 3,313; 2. Des Moines Lincoln 3,262; 3. Ottumwa 3,256; 4. Clinton 3,240; 5. Marshalltown 3,222; 6. Waterloo East 3,219; 7. Davenport North 3,144; 8. Fort Dodge 3,038; 9. Cedar Rapids Prairie 2,969; 10. Cedar Rapids Washington 2,879.
Individual Scores: 1. Cody Taylor (Marshalltown) 764, T2. Jeff McCann (Waterloo East) 728, T2. Dacoda Ewalt (M) 728, 4. Ryan Felton (Des Moines Lincoln) 714, 5. Jerry Wagner (Fort Dodge) 701, 6. Austin LaMaack (Davenport North) 686, 7. Charlie Neff (Pleasant Valley) 676, 8. Seth Pennock (Clinton) 672, 9. Andrew Gonner (Dubuque Hempstead) 653, 10. Austin Halcomb (C) 605.
Ottumwa Individuals: Joey Lee 447, Tyler Ollom 441, Isaac Goodman 417, Austin Palmer 389, Anthony Roberts 388, Alan Brady 357.