Front Row: Abby Hughes, Alexis Kieffer, Makenzie Benson, Ashley LaSalle, Jasmine Wann, Shauna Denny, Kimko Burris, Shelby Steven, Amanda Miller, Isaiah Williams, Michael Polasek and Bailey Holton.
Back Row: Rhianna Smith, Carl Frazier, Clayton Ouellette, Tyray White, Wes Epp, Allon Taylor, Evan Berry, KC Becker, Jeff Reed, Anna Young, Talin Gobel, Kolton Lare and Jimmy Fortner
To say the McPherson High bowling teams have a tough act to follow could be one of the great understatements in recent memory.
The MHS girls are coming off their first-ever state championship, while the boys took third in the state.
The Bullpups begin the 2015 season Tuesday against Wichita Collegiate at The Alley in Wichita before performing before the home fans on Friday at Starlite Lanes against Andale (3 p.m. start).
The girls must replace longtime standouts Crystal Nutter and Mayce Nightingale, but four starters are back off the team that will soon be raising its 2014 banner in the Roundhouse.
“It is going to be a very interesting season,” said Herb Halinski, the only coach in the history of the program that started in 2008. “There are six girls from last year’s team with varsity experience — Abby (Hughes), Alexis (Kieffer), Ashley (LaSalle), Jasmine (Wann), Makenzie (Benson) and Rhianna (Smith).
Halinski said there could be a bowler push that group.
“Bailey Holton will be another girl who is going to contribute this year as well,” Halinski said. “Bailey had a good week of tryouts and has improved a lot. Jaz and Makenzie have each bowled twice at state and have a desire to get back a third time this year. This is a talented group of girls who have been helping each other out during tryouts and want to do well.”
Halinski said they have put in the necessary offseason work to make a run at a repeat.
“They have been bowling (in) league (play) for Nettie (Wann) when their schedules permit it,” Halinski said. “A lot of these girls went to summer camp and the International Training and Research Center over the summer and had input from the Team USA Coaches and have been working hard. Makenzie would like to win a second championship to 1-up her brother, who was on the boys state championship team.”
Halinski added that Wann, the top returnee, competed in some fall tournaments and “turned some heads, doing very well.”
As for the boys, this could be the most inexperienced team Halinski has had during his tenure, but he does have a solid base with a couple of state returnees.
“The boys are going to be very young with only Carl (Frazier) and Jeff (Reed) bowling varsity last year,” Halinski said. “The younger ones will be looking to them for guidance on the lanes this year. Carl has been bowling individual tournaments against some WSU and Newman players and been in the Top 5 on three different occasions, finishing second in his most recent tournament. He also recently shot a 298 game in a tournament.”
One bowler who has caught Halinski’s eye is freshman Clayton Ouellette, who recently became the youngest ever at Starlite Lanes to bowl a 300 game.
“I have worked with him for several years. He is a sponge and wants to learn as much as possible,” Halinski said.
KC Becker, Michael Polasek, Talin Goebel, and Wes Epp were other bowlers who showed promise during the preseason tryouts.