NEWTON — Strikes and spares. That is what it is about on the bowling lanes.
No one did it better than Newton’s Cardinal boys Tuesday in the Class 1A regional tournament hosted by the Cardinal bowling teams. After an up-and-down season, the Cardinal boys saved a great outing at home for a Class 1A Regional team championship.
“This is awesome,” freshman Nick VerSteeg said following the announcement of final scores.
Newton’s boys powered their way to a 2,883 total pin count as a team. The Cardinals posted a 175-pin win over last year’s regional champion and Little Hawkeye Conference champion, Knoxville, which had 2,708.
“The boys’ team was fired up and just crushed the pins today,” Newton head coach Seth Banwell said. “They will be making their first ever appearance at the state tournament on Monday representing the top 10 bowling teams in the state.”
The Cardinal boys were led by sophomore Jake Karlzen. Karlzen tied for the regional individual championship with Austin Artwein of Norwalk. They each posted a total of 434 in their two-game individual series. They both advance to the state tournament.
Karlzen posted a 202 in his first individual game then had the highest game of the day in the boys’ competition with a 232. Artwein threw games of 219 and 215.
“I’ve bowled for a long time,” Karlzen said. “This is amazing to be regional champion myself but also as a team. We came out with more energy today and came together as a team.”
It was a bittersweet day for Newton’s girls. The Cardinal girls went undefeated until Saturday’s Little Hawkeye Conference meet.
“We bowled amazing today,” junior Melanie Stice said. Newton finished second — 19 pins out of the top spot — to defending regional champion Knoxville. Knoxville piled up 2,494 pins to Newton’s 2,475 pins.
“We’re disappointed about not qualifying for state, but not disappointed in the way we bowled today,” sophomore Madison Humphrey said.
Newton junior Erica Bailey, who is a steady force on the lanes for the Cardinals, finished second individually. Bailey rolled games of 181 and 199 for a 380. Mackenzie McCarty of Knoxville was the regional champion with a 403.
“I keep my emotions in check when I bowl. I cheer on my teammates, but I don’t show much out there when I’m bowling,” Bailey said. “I think me keeping calm helped me bowl well today.”
Pella Christian’s teams finished seventh at the regional tournament. The Eagle boys had a 2,121 score while the Eagle girls ended up with 1,262.
Junior Alex Bare said last week going into the conference tournament that Newton had beaten every team in the conference but Knoxville. “We’ll get them,” he said.
And the Cardinals did on Tuesday.
“This is when it counted. It’s regionals and a chance to go to state,” Bare said. “Yes, I enjoyed today. It means everything to us. We were bowling at home in the regional and we were determined to win.”
Freshman Reid Miller finished third individually for the Cardinals. Miller rolled a 402 (188-214) then sophomore Bryan McMahon and junior Payton Cox tied for seventh at 381. McMahon followed his first game of 178 with a 203 while Cox had games of 182 and 199.
“No. we’re not this rowdy at regular meets but we had to bring it today — it’s regionals,” Cox said.
“Being regional champions means the world to me. I just love bowling and have so much fun competing in it,” McMahon said.
“The rowdiness paid off,” freshman Nick VerSteeg said. “We usually aren’t sitting with our girls’ team and bowling next to them. Today, we were and for me, it helped me bowl better. We were supporting each other all day and it was great.”
Bare tied for 15th with a 343 (220-123) and VerSteeg finished with a 243 (124-119) for the Cardinals. VerSteeg said the whole day was all about cheering each other on and doing well as a team.
Newton led Knoxville 1,941-1,777 going into the Baker games. The Cardinal boys threw Baker games of 202, 143, 207, 193 and 197 to seal the win.
“The stars were aligned and the guys just threw tons of strikes,” Banwell said. “The fan base and team support demonstrated was incredible and the boys fed off the energy in the room. The meet was very exciting with lots of cheering from a packed house.”
Banwell said in the individual round the Cardinals averaged an amazing 194 per game and averaged 188 in the Baker round. He said he was very proud of the boys and is looking forward to the state meet.
Pella Christian senior Nick Lanser led the Eagle boys with a 350 (222-128), which landed him in 13th individually. Jordan Pleima, a senior, posted a 298 (140-158) followed by sophomore Brandon Rozendaal with a 260 (137-123) and senior Andrew Veensta with a 255 (110-145).
Junior Grant Fynaardt had a 247 (117-130) and junior Caleb Van Zee rolled a 241 (135-106). The Eagles had Baker scores of 174, 132, 153, 105, 147.
NEWTON’S GIRLS had one of the highest team scores of the season in the regional tournament. They placed three bowlers in the top five and five in the top 16.
“The girl’s bowled outstanding today and made tremendous improvements throughout the season,” Banwell said. “The girls were only down by 17 pins after the individual round and it could have gone either way.”
The Cardinal girls’ Baker game scores were 151, 166, 155, 159, 160.
“It’s really tough taking the second-place finish and missing out on qualifying for the state meet by only 19 pins, but I was so impressed with the girls today. They stayed positive and fought hard for every pin. The team supported each other and gave their best effort,” Banwell said.
Junior Courtney Tabor finished third overall with a 353 (170-183) and Humphrey was fourth at 344 with games of 175 and 169. Stice placed 11th at 314 (148-166) and sophomore Mariah Gonzales was 16th at 293 (153-140).
“We were really excited today and bowling really well,” Tabor said. “I think I was able to stay calm, which helped me. Everyone was feeding off each other today.”
The lone senior on the Cardinal varsity team was Bailee Stier. She placed 28th at 241 (108-133).
“I’ve struggled through the course of the season with a knee injury. I’m so glad I was able to be a part of this today and bowl better than I have all season,” Stier said. “I was very impressed with my teammates. They bowled well and made this experience so wonderful.”
A trio of sophomores led Pella Christian’s girls at the regional. Holly Milby tied for 18th with a 287 on games of 134 and 153 while Abbie Vandermolen was 22nd at 268 (137-131) and Anna Burg tied for 23rd at 264 (150-114).
Senior Alexis Wright posted a 238 (116-122) followed by juniors Chanae Van Wyk at 205 (101-104) and Jenna Vanderpol at 195 (89-106). The Eagles’ Baker game scores were 133, 119, 146, 98, 104.
Newton’s boys will compete in the Iowa Class 1A state bowling tournament Monday, Feb. 27, at Plaza Lanes in Des Moines. Competition begins at 10 a.m.