The rosters are set and the anticipation is building for the McPherson High School bowling team, which is gearing up to start it’s season in the new year.
Head coach Herb Halinski returns five from last year’s girls’ team that took fourth at the state tournament in Wichita on March 2. Coming back for another run at the state championship are Crystal Nutter, Macy Nightengale, Moli Metheny, Makenzie Benson and Jasmine Wann.
“Each one of these girls has dedicated themselves to bowling league, practicing on their own and bowling tournaments,” Halinski said. “The girls have made a pledge they want to improve at state and are spending time to improve.”
Nutter, who Halinski said has traveled the region and participated in a national tournament in Indianapolis over the summer, had a fantastic showing at state last year, taking fourth place as an individual. Nutter bowled a 665 series behind games of 224, 182 and 259 in the competition, which helped the Bullpups score a 2,295 as a team to wrap up fourth.
Though experienced, the girls’ team is still fairly young, as Nutter, Macy Nightengale, Echo Miller and Berkeley Jackson are the only upperclassmen as juniors. Benson Metheny and Wann, along with Abby Hughes and Rhianna Smith, are all sophomores. Santana Lee joins the team as a freshman.
The season will be challenging for the young bowlers, as they will have to face off with the defending Class 5-1A girls’ state champion Buhler several times as part of the AVCTL Division III. The first such showdown comes on Jan. 11 at Starlight Lanes in McPherson.
“Even with the experience on the girls side,” Halinski said, “it will be a challenging season.”
For the boys, Halinski only brings back two varsity members in Levi Holgerson and Joel Morey.
Morey just missed out on a medal at state in March, taking 21st with a 651 on games of 219, 228 and 204.
That leaves a lot of room for new bowlers to step up for the Bullpups, which Halinski said he saw some of during tryouts in November.
“Tyler Morse was a big surprise, averaging over 200 for the week,” Halinski said. “The rest of the competition was stiff, with Brett Hartzell, Jacob Krehbiel, Jacob Lehman and Jacob Helmer all right there together.”
Lehman and Matt Nelson join Holgerson as the seniors on the team, while Hartzell, Krehbiel and Helmer are three of eight juniors on the team.
Halinski said the new Bullpups will face a lot of competition due to their inexperience.
“It will be a tough learning curve for the boys,” he said. “They will need to lean on the leadership of (Morey) and (Holgerson).”
The season opens for the Pups Jan. 5 with an invitational at Wichita West Acres Bowl.