WATERLOO — Newton head bowling coach Christie Hughes’ one message to her Cardinal girls’ team on Monday was to simply enjoy themselves.
Newton’s girls’ bowling team qualified for the state tournament for the first time in five years and the expectations were to have fun and enjoy the experience.
“They did a good job. I told them coming in that I didn’t care where they finished. I wanted them to enjoy it, especially my seniors,” Hughes said.
At the end of the Class 2A girls state bowling tournament at Cadillac Xtreme Bowling Center, the scoreboard showed the Cardinals in seventh of the eight-team field.
They entered the Baker games in eighth but bested Waverly-Shell Rock in the Bakers to climb up a spot. Newton had a 2,440 on the day.
“It’s pretty cool to do this as a team. They’ve had this goal all season and they all were excited to be here,” Hughes said. “It’s surreal being in such a big place with such great bowlers.”
LeMars won the 2A girls state title with 3,061 pins, edging Keokuk (3,034) by 27 pins for the top spot. LeMars had three individuals in the top eight.
Western Dubuque also earned a team trophy in third with 3,016 pins. The Bobcats had four individuals in the top 20.
The rest of the eight-team field included Waterloo East (2,907), Fort Dodge (2,820), Denison-Schleswig (2,574), Newton (2,440) and Waverly-Shell Rock (2,357).
“We just wanted to bowl and have fun and experiencing this as a team was just great,” said senior Abby Price, who bowled at state last year as an individual. “It was a fun day.”
Price led the Cardinals with a 361 series. She finished 24th in the individual standings.
Sophomore Bailey Hansen was next in 31st with a 336 series, while sophomore Beka Weithers (302), freshman Genessa Slings (301) and freshman Libbie Keith (300) placed 42nd, 43rd and 44th, respectively.
Senior Jenna Miller had a 258 series and finished 47th.
Fifteen bowlers in the state tournament field rolled a 400 or better series.
Waterloo East’s Stephanie Burge won the 2A individual state title with a 481 series. She rolled single games of 267 and 214.
Keokuk’s Jasmine Saunders (471) was 10 pins back in second, while Denison-Schleswig’s Claire Miller (467) finished third. Saunders’ top single game was a 247, while Miller had a 244 game.
Newton’s biggest issue on Monday was not picking up spares. They had 44 open frames and also navigated through nine splits in the first round of games.
“We struggled with the splits and left too many single pins here and there,” Hughes said. “They were good pocket shots, but we just couldn’t get them to hit right. It could have been our angle. It could have been our speed. I don’t know. We just struggled with them. We tried to make little adjustments as we went.”
Price’s 190 led the Cardinals in the first game. She had a stretch of four strikes in a row and also picked up three spares.
Hansen had a 177 in her first game, rolling five strikes and converting one spare. Her first two frames resulted in splits that were left open.
Keith started her day with a 152. She rolled two strikes and picked up five spares, four of which came on first-ball rolls of nine pins.
Weithers had a 150 in her first game, bowling two strikes and four spares. Slings’ first game was a 132 and Miller rolled a 122. Slings had two strikes and two spares and Miller rolled a strike in the 10th frame and had four spares.
Price had a 171 in her second game of the day. She started with five straight spares and had eight spares total along with one strike.
Slings scored a 169 in her second game, rolling four strikes and three spares. Hansen’s 159 included three strikes and three spares.
Weithers was the most consistent bowler on the day as she had a 150 in the second game and rolled a season-best 302 series. In the second game, Weithers tallied two strikes and four spares.
Keith’s second game was a 148 as she rolled two strikes and four spares. Miller bowled a 136, finishing with one strike and four spares.
“My mark was really thin,” Price said. “We had to find a new mark and move our feet over and try to keep adjusting. We just had to play around with it.”
The Cardinals were much better in the Baker games. They trailed Waverly-Shell Rock by 26 pins after the first round but made up for it with an 840 Baker game series. The Go-Hawks had a 731 Baker round.
Newton also had a better Baker game score than Denison-Schleswig, which rolled a 776.
Price rolled two strikes in the 10th frame of the first Baker game as the Cardinals rolled a combined 144.
In the second game, Newton had its best round, rolling a 202. The Cardinals turned in five strikes and three spares.
The rest of the Baker scores were 188, 126 and 180.
The 188 included three strikes and six spares. It also featured a split picked up by Hansen.
Hansen picked up another split in the fourth game but Newton tallied only one strike and three spares in the game.
The final game netted two strikes and seven spares.
The Cardinals did not have a chance to bowl at Cadillac XBC before the state tournament. It was a quick turnaround and lining up schedules between all six bowlers and the two-hour drive proved to be difficult.
“I am not sure who did get to come here and bowl before the tournament, but the opportunity to do that is available,” Hughes said. “It costs a little bit of money, and it’s hard to get schedules lined up when it’s so far away.
Newton’s varsity team included just two seniors. So four starters could be back next year with the hopes of returning to state.
“It was an experience for all of them to be here. And it was an experience for me, too. This is the first time I have been to state with a team,” Hughes said. “We’ll be a young team next year. It will be mostly freshmen and sophomores and a few juniors.
“We just need to keep putting in work. We need to get better at picking up spares. That’s what hurt us the most today.”